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I need some insight - PLEASE! please. My daughter is 3 1/2 and has been spirited and very demanding since she was an infant. We just adapt to her needs, give her lots focused attention and positive reinforcement. We do not spank (and never will) and overall have gentle parenting style, but still have rules and boundaries and we don’t give her everything she wants (therein lies a power struggle). I stay at home with her and her 20 month old brother (yes, there are very apparent jealousy issues). Right now, most of my days are spent working through prolonged meltdowns... by prolonged I mean anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and a half. Often we talk through them or if I am not available to sit with her and hold her hands and breathe, then she goes in her room to thrash around and just peter-it-out on her own. Lately, she immediately opens the door and runs at me, screaming, clawing and grabbing saying she, "really likes me" and wants me to hold her a very specific way. She has ALWAYS had some serious meltdowns, often hitting her face or back of her head on the floor. Recently, she is also hitting her legs and biting her fingers. We are realizing she only whines, fusses, and tantrums, melts down around me or my husband. She goes to preschool 2 full days a week, and does just fine. Holds it in and usually looses it right after I pick her up. Just had a parent/teacher meeting and they are like, ‘Ya your kid is super sharp and right on point developmentally.’ They have zero concern about autism spectrum. She IS very smart, and I keep feeling like she’s totally working/manipulating me, but I also remain compassionate and try to see if from her perspective. She is just figuring out how things work, and cause and effect etc. I guarantee my husband and I are inadvertently reinforcing certain behavior, but I need to find something that is positive, gentle and EFFECTIVE, because she just flat out won’t respond to the typical stern discipline techniques we have tried out of desperation. Ignoring a tantrum completely elevates the intensity, duration and results in self-harm and extreme distress and I do not want to do that anymore. I just can’t anymore…ethically. F*** that. Yesterday it resulted in a giant bruised goose egg on her forehead after banging her head on the kitchen tile. No. F*** no.
I suspect some sort of high functioning sensory processing sensitivity. She displays just a few of the indicators, but doesn’t fit in any label or box. She has a fear of the sound of a toilet flushing, very particular (cuff of sleeve needs to be rolled a certain way, socks and pants are not tight enough, tag hurts, brother is looking at her, blanket is not straight, etc.) She was never snuggly as a baby, and often doesn't realize her own strength when playing and hugging etc. She has an extreme need for comfort (specifically from me) and recently it has intensified.

….ask me anything as I may have not included all the specifics, just trying to sum it up with the little focus I have these days.
 

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Hi Clem, sorry you didn't get a response yet. I know it takes a lot of energy to put that kind of concern out there!

My first impression: probably VERY bright and sensory processing challenges. Two directions to explore--one is the Hoagies Gifted Pages online.http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/parents.htm If it turns out she is not gifted you will still learn some terrific things, but one of the hallmarks of a very bright child is that they develop in an asynchronous manner---so though she may be cognitively amazing, great with fine motor, gross motor, etc, her social/emotional development may be lagging behind. So she is functioning more like an older toddler when it comes to figuring out the social/emotional stuff. Read some of their info and see if it fits at all. If not, no big deal. If this is true of your daughter it may just help to try to understand that her development is at different levels and you may worry less because she will eventually catch up to herself and even out.

On the sensory stuff, you can work toward getting an evaluation with an occupational therapist. You may have to pay out of pocket for this since the school has few concerns, but insurance should cover it if you go through primary care (and potentially neurology first, just to 'bless' it). OT clinicians are amazing at evaluating and determining which sensory systems are getting overwhelmed in a child and giving you strategies to help the child regulate. An example might be--even though she wasn't snuggly, she might simultaneously crave a certain kind of touch or pressure, which may be why she is asking to be held a certain way when she is dysregulated and out of control. She is asking for what she needs (maybe) and knows that you are bigger, stronger and wiser and can help her with this. Children with sensory issues often hold it together in school but come home and lose it after all the stimulation or just because they are tired. If you can't access OT and/or you just want to try some things, look at the Out of Synch Child book by Carol S Kranowitz https://www.amazon.com/Out-Sync-Child-Recognizing-Processing/dp/0399531653

I'm assuming you've already read Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka, which is a 'must read' for this type of child. If not, please do! :wink:
 

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Not a lot of help, but I was going to suggest sensory challenges, too. My daughter is similar, and I also really struggle with how psychological feelings affect the way my body feels. I was a self-harmer in teen and young adulthood, and I can attest that there was no deep psychological reason for it, but that when I felt strong feelings self harming really did make me feel "better." In adulthood I'm very sensitive to certain sounds and details of my environment. When my daughter struggles to control herself, she slaps her stomach and yells at it to stop because that's where she feels those feelings. It is really a hard line to walk between compassion and feeling like they need to just learn how to get over it. I'm curious what the triggers are for your daughter? My DD is 6 now and her tantrums have reduced because she's grown out of some of the triggers. But when new challenges arise, she seems just as ill-equipped to handle it.
 

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A couple general suggestions. One would be to cross-post in Special Needs. It's not unusual to be "gifted" but still have special needs - both my kids technically fit that description (although we do not use the word "gifted" in this house - I hate the labeling). Getting an OT eval as a PP suggested is also a great idea. Make sure it's an OT who works only with kids. OT is a huge field, and you want somebody who's got a lot of experience with children. If you don't feel the first one clicked well with your child, try another. You may need a referral from your Pediatrician to scheduled.

Also, it's not uncommon for problems to surface in only one environment, or vice versa. A lot of kids have some capacity to control socially awkward reactions, but it costs them a lot of energy and when they know they're out of the social spotlight they lose it. It doesn't necessarily mean that you and your husband are doing something "wrong." On the other hand, it is important to be sure that you and your husband are consistent with each other. For us, that meant seeing a child and family therapist, basically because one of us was avoiding setting limits due to fear of causing tantrums. Just having a third-person viewpoint (from an experienced, wise therapist) was very helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Clem, sorry you didn't get a response yet. I know it takes a lot of energy to put that kind of concern out there!

My first impression: probably VERY bright and sensory processing challenges. Two directions to explore--one is the Hoagies Gifted Pages online.http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/parents.htm If it turns out she is not gifted you will still learn some terrific things, but one of the hallmarks of a very bright child is that they develop in an asynchronous manner---so though she may be cognitively amazing, great with fine motor, gross motor, etc, her social/emotional development may be lagging behind. So she is functioning more like an older toddler when it comes to figuring out the social/emotional stuff. Read some of their info and see if it fits at all. If not, no big deal. If this is true of your daughter it may just help to try to understand that her development is at different levels and you may worry less because she will eventually catch up to herself and even out.

On the sensory stuff, you can work toward getting an evaluation with an occupational therapist. You may have to pay out of pocket for this since the school has few concerns, but insurance should cover it if you go through primary care (and potentially neurology first, just to 'bless' it). OT clinicians are amazing at evaluating and determining which sensory systems are getting overwhelmed in a child and giving you strategies to help the child regulate. An example might be--even though she wasn't snuggly, she might simultaneously crave a certain kind of touch or pressure, which may be why she is asking to be held a certain way when she is dysregulated and out of control. She is asking for what she needs (maybe) and knows that you are bigger, stronger and wiser and can help her with this. Children with sensory issues often hold it together in school but come home and lose it after all the stimulation or just because they are tired. If you can't access OT and/or you just want to try some things, look at the Out of Synch Child book by Carol S Kranowitz https://www.amazon.com/Out-Sync-Child-Recognizing-Processing/dp/0399531653

I'm assuming you've already read Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka, which is a 'must read' for this type of child. If not, please do! :wink:

Oh! REPLIES! Thank you! I have been enveloped in a journey over here based on suggestions of fellow parents and doctors. I got a referral last Thursday to both an allergist (to rule out anything she might be having a reaction to) and also an Occupational Therapist that specializes in Sensory Integration/Sensory Processing Disorders. I am reading "The out of Sync Child" and I have on order "Raising the Spirited Child" - Thank you! I have had many people recommend those. The Out of Sync Child is a total game changer.....it is helping me understand my husband as well......time to buckle up. :eek:

I found that in my state there is a law that all employers are required to include behavioral therapy in the benefits package for anyone under the age of 6. So, the treatment will be covered, but the initial 4 week evaluation won't. She takes priority right now and we will make it work somehow, so I'm not going to fret about that. I REAAALLLY wanted to avoid 'diagnosis' and labels, but I think this will do our family a great service into finding answers, coping mechanisms and having empathy. Some family members have been critical of the way she behaves, and I always try to shake the mom guilt thinking it's my fault that she is 'out of control' or 'disrespectful' or 'spoiled' when really it is something far different and far more complex.

I'm going to check out Hoagies Gifted pages, also. Thank you!
 

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A couple general suggestions. One would be to cross-post in Special Needs. It's not unusual to be "gifted" but still have special needs - both my kids technically fit that description (although we do not use the word "gifted" in this house - I hate the labeling). Getting an OT eval as a PP suggested is also a great idea. Make sure it's an OT who works only with kids. OT is a huge field, and you want somebody who's got a lot of experience with children. If you don't feel the first one clicked well with your child, try another. You may need a referral from your Pediatrician to scheduled.

Also, it's not uncommon for problems to surface in only one environment, or vice versa. A lot of kids have some capacity to control socially awkward reactions, but it costs them a lot of energy and when they know they're out of the social spotlight they lose it. It doesn't necessarily mean that you and your husband are doing something "wrong." On the other hand, it is important to be sure that you and your husband are consistent with each other. For us, that meant seeing a child and family therapist, basically because one of us was avoiding setting limits due to fear of causing tantrums. Just having a third-person viewpoint (from an experienced, wise therapist) was very helpful.
I found a pediatric OT practice that is run by a woman that studied with A. Jean Ayres - I was actually stunned! My husband and I are also going to do family therapy because this impacts all of us. We have also learned that as a child my husband exhibited a lot of similar behavior that my daughter is currently experiencing, so, I'm sure we will all learn a bit more about ourselves in this process! I have hope now....everyone's advice has been right along the same track. Thank you
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Not a lot of help, but I was going to suggest sensory challenges, too. My daughter is similar, and I also really struggle with how psychological feelings affect the way my body feels. I was a self-harmer in teen and young adulthood, and I can attest that there was no deep psychological reason for it, but that when I felt strong feelings self harming really did make me feel "better." In adulthood I'm very sensitive to certain sounds and details of my environment. When my daughter struggles to control herself, she slaps her stomach and yells at it to stop because that's where she feels those feelings. It is really a hard line to walk between compassion and feeling like they need to just learn how to get over it. I'm curious what the triggers are for your daughter? My DD is 6 now and her tantrums have reduced because she's grown out of some of the triggers. But when new challenges arise, she seems just as ill-equipped to handle it.
Thank you for sharing your experience.
What triggers her? Anything. Anything. When the dog looks at her. When I put my hair up in a pony tail. When her food it too cold or too hot. When the cuff of her pant is not folded over the cuff of her sock the right way. The next day it will be the opposite. I cringe everytime we get ready to leave the house because she will 9 times out of 10 be on the floor writhing because the jacket didn't fit to her expectations, or the sleeve of her shirt got crunched up in the sleeve of the jacket, or her shoes don't fit right. Outings to loud places can only last 45 mins to an hour on a good day, because she will get overwhelmed and completely lose it. She is sensitive to feeling cold or itchy. When she has to poop, pee, or has already wet herself she gets incredibly irritable or aggressive. I can't predict what will happen, but I would be relieved if she grows out it. If she doesn't grow out of it, I will just continue to love and support her, of course!
 
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