In my last Blog I mentioned sensory processing disorder. So what is it? As it was explained to me and from what I have read, it means my kid or kids do not process the information their senses are telling them in the same way other people do. Basically, it is the reason a kid may end up in a ball on the floor, because of a sound or the socks don’t fit right. Now, the initial instinct to these seemingly benign triggers is say “get over it”. The kicker is they cannot. Yes, that insane reaction to the seam on the top of the sock is in fact out of their control and yours. So we are left with 3 options. 1. Punish the behavior and continue on hoping that works. 2. Make a valiant attempt to find every trigger and avoid all them, failing miserably. 3. Help our kids learn how to process the world.
To start I have tried all of these, and my personal, non-professional, opinion is the best approach is a combination of all three. Why? The complexity of these types of problems in kids will only lend themselves to a multifaceted or diverse approach. To make things very clear. I am not a professional psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, pediatrician or any other type of person that would help to treat these issues. I am a mom. I am a mom who has taken the time to learn about my kids and what they face. I have also learned a lot about myself in the process.
I would like to give a true picture for all the parents out there of what this looks like in my world. Let’s take an early morning, no ADHD meds yet, we are trying to get out to school and there is one pair of old socks left in the drawer. Child number two grabs them and puts them on, but there is a problem. You see child number two likes his socks almost too tight and these are too loose. Now, average kid’s response is something like “mom these are not comfortable.” Right? Not my kid. I come upstairs to a sound that can only be described as a weak and wounded injured animal. I recognize the sound and so I go to the room prepared for battle. When I get to his room. My child is on the floor, often holding his foot, making his death whine. My response is, “What is wrong?” The next statement is accompanied by violent flailing stating “These socks don’t fit. They are uncomfortable!!!!!!” Followed by more rocking and whaling. My response to this has ranged from entering into a battle royal about putting on the socks laid out (ineffective as hell), to put on the socks you had on yesterday. I don’t care if they are dirty and come downstairs and eat. Now, you would think it would end there but no. See for us this may start a downhill array of over reactions. Once he becomes aware of one problem the others seem to become more pronounced. Here is why I made it a point to note no meds. He is better able to control the reaction when we suppress the impulsivity. So, it may be an issue. He may make some injured animal sounds, but the fall out is so much less. I can better reason with him on medication. This is one minor example of how this causes problems. His sensory sensitivity is auditory and touch. I have not noticed too much in the way of texture of food and such, but it would not surprise me. So how do I deal with it? Well I have tried all three approaches individually and we are using all three together.
Punishment – punishing behavior a child is not conscious of is completely useless, however you can make them aware of the problem and provide them with the correct reactions. Once they are conscious of it, you can then set boundaries and necessary disciplinary procedures. The best way to make them aware is through Occupational Therapy, maybe Play Therapy, and maturity.
Avoidance – whenever possible do this, often times this is not possible. So the issue with the socks, I can avoid that. I just make sure he has socks that fit his feet. I don’t like loose socks either so I understand it is uncomfortable. With noise at school he has noise cancelling headphones (Shooting ear protection works perfectly and is often cheaper). Unfortunately, every trigger is not avoidable.
Coping – at the end of the day, the only thing that is going to have a long term effect are coping skills. Occupational therapy does wonders for the actual processing issue. Play therapy helps them to better identify the emotions around the experience. When they have the necessary vocabulary, they can better help you understand what is happening. Understanding, will help you better cope with the problem.
Not every kid with ADHD, Autism, ODD or any other learning difference or disability will have Sensory Processing Disorder, and not ever kid with Sensory Process Disorder will have any of the above, but from what I have read this generally does accompany another problem. So be vigilant. It is manageable. You are not the only parent who has dealt with it or who will deal with it and you can survive it and your family can thrive with it.
Black ADHD Mom