Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sensory Processing Disorder

Today I attended a training titled Sensory Integration: Tools, Resources and Real World Solutions for Life with Challenging Kids.  I went there hoping to come home with all the answers to my 4 year old identical twin boys (who happen to have PDD Autism and Down Syndrome) actions that we just can't quite figure out, and I think that I may have accomplished that.  Not with a solid solution, but with a different kind of thinking that may accommodate their sensory needs.  I am one of those parents who try to STOP the actions that I don't like and find inappropriate to do out in the community.  One thing my boys do all day long is swing their arm with a closed fist up and hit their head... several times a day.  When they are over stimulated, when they are upset, when they are engaged in something and having fun, sometimes when they are watching tv, basically just all the time.  As a matter of fact, they communicate by signing to us and I can't tell you how many times people have asked us what they are signing when they pound their head like that.  "We've come up with the reply that they think your a weirdo...LOL"

Instead of taking away something that they need (sensory input to their head), I'm going to look for a new more appropriate way to give it to them.  I am considering a weighted ball cap.  I found one in a magazine they gave to us to bring home with us.  I often wondered if they made these but never really researched it.   Also, they are head bangers, this may help with that as well.  Apparently, they are not understanding where their body fits in space.  

Another thing about Caleb that I'm trying to understand is his sock obsession.  He swings them, they chews on them, he hoards them and hides them all over the house.  He will only chew on the top end, he will only hold the top end and rub that end on his face... So a solution they gave to me today was to cut that end off of a sock and attach it to a necklace like and allow him to carry this with him for comfort.  Put it in his pocket or backpack and allow him to have it as a reward to stay on task or as a motivator.

There are several types of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  There is Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD), Sensory Based Motor Disorder (SBMD) and Sensory Discrimination Disorder (SDD).  The one I found the most fascinating was SMD.

Three types of SMD:

Sensory Under Responsive Kids:
  • Low Muscle tone
  • Lacks appropriated demonstration  of pain or temperature
  • Difficult to motivate or engage in a task
  • Hard to sustain attention
  • Prefers sedentary activities such as watching TV
  • Difficulty siting in a chair, may lean forward for support
  • May eat too much because he doesn't register hunger
Sensory Over Responsive Kids:

  • Irriability
  • Aggression
  • Shut Down
  • Inability to sit still
  • Hand flapping
  • Inability to calm self
  • Changes in eating or sleeping
Sensory Seeking Kids:

  • Always making a mess
  • Can't keep hands to self
  • Likes rough housing, crashing, unable to stop talking
  • May have TV, ipod or radio very loud
  • Prefers strong flavors of foods - hot, spicy, sour
  • May lick or chew on non-food items
  • Can't stop moving or fideting
  • Bumps into things
  • Enjoys playing with things or touching textured objects
  • Jump, Jump, Jump
  • Very difficult to engage in activities such as church, movies, and the like
Honestly, my boys have lots of characteristics from each of these types of SMD.

The above information came from our power point hands outs.  Our presenters were nervous as it was their first attempt at this training, but I have invited them to come and talk at Camp Friendship in August.   I will be sure to advertise it locally here when they decide to come.  I would encourage anyone with a child on the Autism Spectrum, ADHD, ADD, Down Syndrome and/or Sensory Issues to attend.  It was worth the 6 hours we were there!!


Anonymous said...

And an Addition:

My boys have been diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, also now known as Sensory Processing Disorder. We got the diagnosis two years ago and have just now finally been matched up with an OT that is certified in sensory therapies.

Natalie said...

I'm sure it's incredibly overwhelming to have a child, let alone two, with some form of sensory integration disorder. But, having said that, isn't it a little bit of a fascinating subject to learn about? We all have sensory needs... think about what you do for yourself when you're feeling overwhelmed. Shaking your foot... taking a bath... deep breathing. But for kiddos that can't figure out their place in this world, it's so interesting to me.

Have you tried weighted blankets over the boys' shoulders to help with that deep pressure that they might be craving to stop hitting their heads? I know very little about sensory processing, so it's just a guess. :)

I'm glad you had a good conference and got a lot out of it.


Hartley said...


I stumbled onto your blog today -- my son has PDD and SPD as well. It can be overwhelming, but I am glad you have found direction and information!

If you have any questions, maybe I can help. Feel free to ask!

Happy Mother's Day,

christina said...

Stacy, I'm so glad you liked the workshop enough to talk about it on your blog! Six hours is a long time it was important to us to make it worthwhile. We can't wait till august and will be tweaking the workshop until then! Those alpacas above are adorable.