I am concerned; should I be? - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > I am concerned; should I be?
luckymamaoftwo's Avatar luckymamaoftwo 10:30 PM 11-04-2011

So my DD is 3 1/2 and she is incredibly affectionate, sweet, bright and perceptive, but I've often noticed that she's different than her peers. I have had concerns and am getting more concerned lately, so please share your advice on whether or not I should worry so much.


DD seems to have anxiety, especially regarding large groups/parties, new experiences, new people,etc. She almost always ends up happy and loving the new experience, but beforehand and during she almost always clingy and nervous.  Usually before something "new" she has a meltdown over small things. Just last night we were headed out to a preschool event and she had a huge, huge meltdown over what?? En route to the event, she articulated how she felt. "I don't want to see a lot of people, just some people that I know." This is a pretty common comment from her.


So is this level of anxiety normal? I want to be as compassionate as possible and handle her meltdowns well. I admit that I haven't always recognized her behavior as a response to anxiety (thought she was just cranky, tired, etc), and therefore didn't respond appropriately. I want to change that.


Second part of my concerns are regarding her freak outs about her clothing (often times when dressing for something like school, gathering, event, etc), so the two could be related, right? Regarding the event last night, we were going to be outdoors and she needed to bundle up. She freaked. Didn't want to wear socks because they don't feel right in her boots. Didn't want to wear a coat because it's too puffy. Didn't want to layer with a sweater or warmer shirt because it felt too tight, etc. etc. Is that excessive or normal? She often seems to be focused on her clothing in every day situations, too, and will change because her pj's buttons feel weird. She cannot stand to wear anything that goes on her shoulders (like a jumper), has zippers, snaps or turtlenecks.


Like I said in the beginning, DD has always seemed a little different than her peers and is definitely more perceptive, in tune to emotions, adults and less "active" than other children. But the anxiety and the fixation/meltdowns about her clothing worry me.  


Worth noting that she's always been a very picky eater, gags easily, needs "tiny bites", doesn't like certain textures, has an amazing sense of smell (often too sensitive), and has ALWAYS been a very high-needs, wakeful sleeper. 


Just wanted some feedback. Perhaps it's worth an evaluation? 


Thanks so much.

Just1More's Avatar Just1More 10:41 PM 11-04-2011

Sounds like sensory issues to me.  And those can be made much worse by being tired and/or hungry, so your perception that those things were the problem was probably not too far off. 


And, she sounds shy.  It's okay to be shy, and three is still really little.  My ds needs lots of talking and explaining about new things (he's 4), and still seems like a terrible grump in new situations.  He won't smile either, even if he's having a good time.  Dd1 needed even more, but after TONS of talking through EVERYTHING, she's mostly okay now (at 6), and will just bring me her questions and problems to work out. 


So, I think it's normal little kid, but I'd look into the sensory stuff.

luckymamaoftwo's Avatar luckymamaoftwo 10:50 PM 11-04-2011

Just1more, I have LONG suspected sensory issues too but when I read through the "checklist" she only has a few of the items listed (problems eating and sleeping, overly sensitive to smell, uncomfortable clothing). But maybe those few signs are enough to be concerned? She also was so incredibly tactile until just recently, that is why I originally started thinking it was a sensory thing. She used to rub our arms obsessively in order to fall asleep (and would wake and do the same in the night). She's stopped doing the arm thing, but....?

SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 09:20 AM 11-05-2011

She sounds so much like my daughter in many ways.  I've always let people know when she acted grumpy and wanted to take one of us outside away from the hubbub that she was just "slow to warm up".  And sure enough, after sometimes 3 tortuous hours she would have the time of her life.  


She was always easily overwhelmed.  As an infant, if she didn't get her latch right away she'd scream unconsolably for 1/2hr before she would acknowledge the breast again.  And forget being held by anybody but mom or dad.  Even Grandma couldn't her own moment until dd was nearly 10 months.  


Much of her personality is still present at 6.5, so it hasn't gone away entirely.  At nearly 3yo she screamed and fussed for 2 hours on *Christmas* amongst family she knew very well.  Now, she'll pout instead if something isn't the way she wants.  She can still be an overbearing grump when something is overwhelming for her, too many kids, needing to use the potty but not.  It's BC (before coffee) so my brain isn't pulling up all the parallels that could be helpful.  She is cheerful with most everybody now, doesn't demand we leave the playground if just one other kid shows up.  She still insists on wearing no socks and is very demanding about how much to put on.  Mostly I give in to her on this.  At 6.5 she can be responsible for her own comfort.  But I do bring socks and an extra layer just in case her furnace peters out.  We live in the PNW, so weather is rarely extreme.  When our needs dictate, though (long walk or being outdoors for hours) I am finding it easier to get her to wear socks and layer up, perhaps because most times I let her  choose (?)


I suspect my daughter has sensory issues, but she acts so normal that I really don't want to get her  evaluated.  Maybe your situation is more extreme than ours.  At some point on the scale an evaluation will be useful, especially if it helps the parents deal with it without fighting against the child.  But somewhere before that, it can be helpful just to treat it as close to normal as possible.  Meaning no diagnosis, respect for the child's needs (they are real, and not just a product of stubbornness) and reevaluating what areas the parent can bend their requirements (some clothing issues, food) and where they need to stand their ground (clothing for extreme weather.)



LynnS6's Avatar LynnS6 01:16 PM 11-05-2011

Two book suggestions:

The Highly Sensitive Child

The Out of Sync Child


The books might help you figure out of it's just hypersensitivity, or if it's crossed the boundary into something to seek help for.


It is possible that your child has sensory issues (I've got one of those), or she could just be a highly sensitive introvert. In addition to his sensory issues, our son was extremely slow to warm up. That had very little to do with his sensory stuff. It's just his personality. We have heard every year from his teacher of the year: "We'd really like him to talk more in class."


Given that her sensory issues are making some daily living functions difficult, I'd be tempted to seek an evaluation for your daughter. She's having trouble with food, clothing and sleep. That's enough to at least warrant an evaluation, in my book.

dogmom327's Avatar dogmom327 01:39 PM 11-05-2011

I agree, have her evaluated. DS has similar issues (similar age range too) and we recently had him evaluated. I'm so thankful we did. We are now working toward improving his brain development balance. From what we've learned, the longer we wait to start therapy, the more difficult issues can be to correct.

luckymamaoftwo's Avatar luckymamaoftwo 09:30 PM 11-06-2011

Thanks, all. I will check out those books (although my reading pile is getting larger and larger these days with parenting books!). 


I would like to look into an evaluation. What are my next steps? Contacting the school district? I know that our insurance does NOT cover OT so I wonder if it would be provided through the school district should it be deemed necessary. 

SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 09:02 AM 11-07-2011

I had wanted to comment on the statement a pp made about sensory issues and introversion being different.  I think they can be very much linked.  I have some sensory issues, different in origin, intensity and character than what you've described, but still challenging at times.  Even normally I have a hard time tuning out extraneous sounds, electronic noises, refrigerator hum, etc.  When I get upset or am in pain, these sounds become torture to me and I can also be extremely sensitive to light and touch for some of the same reasons.  (Conversely, beautiful music can be a spiritual experience and bring me to the point of tears.)  


So, if I was a little kid who had trouble with my senses being so forceful and intense, and I was going somewhere around unfamiliar people, that would be enough to make me extremely uncomfortable.  Simply not enough friends or family to help me tune out those sensations.  Not introversion, you see.

APToddlerMama's Avatar APToddlerMama 09:25 AM 11-07-2011

Originally Posted by luckymamaoftwo View Post

Thanks, all. I will check out those books (although my reading pile is getting larger and larger these days with parenting books!). 


I would like to look into an evaluation. What are my next steps? Contacting the school district? I know that our insurance does NOT cover OT so I wonder if it would be provided through the school district should it be deemed necessary. 

It definitely sounds to me like sensory issues.  Both DS and I have sensory issues and also some anxiety.  I think they can be paired frequently.  When DS was evaluated by the school system, we were told that they would not have an OT see him for the sensory needs.  When he was in Early Intervention they would though.  Regardless, I wasn't impressed with their level of understanding of sensory integration so we found someone to see privately.  She was $40/hour which is very reasonable for an OT but also I realize out of reach for some.  However, if you were able to see someone privately, you could probably get by with going once or twice, getting lots of suggestions for what to do at home and then just following up occassionally if you had questions, wanted other ideas, etc.  We ended up seeing this woman about every 4 months and still saw nice improvement.  DS would tolerate activities with us much better than with a stranger anyhow. 


monkeybum's Avatar monkeybum 10:51 AM 11-08-2011

Luckymamma, I don't know if it's "normal" but it sounds so much like both of my kids! :)  I hear so many of those EXACT same comments from both of my boys at various times.  With the clothing issues, depending on the situation, I either let them choose what to wear and buy clothing that they prefer/won't bother them, or I say "well, if you are not wearing socks you cannot come to the party" and let them decide.


What I have found works almost all the time when we are going somewhere "new", is to say "let's go check it out, and if we don't like it we can leave".  I assure them I will stay with them, and I do until they are comfortable.  If I know its somewhere we can't leave (i.e. a new camp and I have to go to work) I just say "let's go check it out together, let's just go and see it before we decide if we like it or not" or "let's just try it for today", or if it's a party or something, "let's just go and see who's there...".  This usually quells most of the fears till we get there, and most of the time they end up getting involved in some way and enjoy it.


That's pretty young to be comfortable in new situations with strangers, esp if it's busy or if they think you might leave them there or something that is scary to them.

My 7 yo has pretty much outgrown these issues but on occasion, if he's tired mostly or hasn't eaten well, I'll still have to say "let's just go check it out" and that works, and/or his clothes are still too tight, too scratchy, too puffy, too warm, too cold, too big, too small, too short, too long, too fancy, are are just "bugging me...". LOL

Good luck!