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How to Help a Child with SPD
This post is very different than what we usually share. It’s different from anything I’ve ever written. Today, I’m going to share the story of my 10 year old and our journey through life with sensory processing disorder (SPD). It most likely isn’t applicable to 95% of our readers, but maybe this is what the other 5% are looking for. There isn’t a cure for sensory processing disorder and you can’t make it go away, but you can find adaptations to get through life.
Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder is still relatively new and in the medical world some still don’t recognize it as being a real thing. Our pediatrician told us that my son didn’t have SPD because “those kids are weird ducks and you can spot them clear across the room”. This is after we had an official diagnosis. Weird duck, right here! In the world of sensory kids there are the seekers and the avoiders. Seekers need different things than avoiders. I have an avoider. I feel that avoiders get less attention because they’re in the back, against the wall…well, just avoiding life.
- Visual (sight)
- Auditory (sound)
- Olfactory (smell)
- Gustatory (taste)
- Tactile (touch)
- Vestibular (balance and orientation)
- Proprioceptive (muscle/joint movement)
Autism and SPD
Ever since he was a pre-schooler I felt something wasn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I would spend nights googling oddities hoping to find answers. Every time I was lead to Autism, which makes sense because a lot of individuals on the Autism spectrum also have SPD, but not all with SPD are on the spectrum. After reading countless Autism checklists, I never felt like that’s what we were dealing with. I had never heard of SPD, and it was my sister who steered us in that direction. The “authorities” often think it could be Autism as well, but professional screenings have ruled it out on multiple occasions.
If you have any question as to whether your son or daughter may have SPD I highly recommend reading The Out of Sync Child. Your local library probably has a copy you can check out. I read it aloud with my husband and it was obvious this is what we were dealing with. If we hadn’t read the book together I think it would have been a lot harder to convince my husband that this was the issue. If you are curious, you can find the red flags of SPD here. I think it is safe to say that all of us have some level of SPD, but when these issues prevent us from normal daily activities they are then a problem.
No matter what your child is dealing with, I want you to know you are the only advocate your child has so keep looking for help and keep fighting for them. One thing I’ve learned is that no one else is going to push for your child. Sure, if he/she is a behavior problem or falling behind in school the school may try to help but they have a lot of kids to worry about. So if your child and you aren’t the squeaky wheel they will focus on a bigger and louder problem. If you are concerned about your child you can request testing through the school, or you can take them to a pediatric occupational therapist outside of the school for help. A lot of people don’t realize you can receive therapy outside of the school. Just don’t give up. If you can’t afford therapy, you should read The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun it is full of activities for sensory kids that I found to be very helpful. (I feel like I need to disclose that this post is in no way sponsored or affiliated with the author. These books have played an important part in our understanding of SPD and I recommend them to anyone with questions.)
We have found a fantastic team of occupational, physical and speech therapists and after 3 years of continuous therapy he has passed all of his goals! We have found solutions and work arounds to most of life’s problems, his confidence has grown, and he is able to experience life with the rest of the family.
It has taken a lot of work and determination (on all of our parts) but he has accomplished milestones some thought were impossible. He can ride a bike and swim! He also loves snow skiing and is thriving in a dual immersion school program learning a second language. I am a huge believer that the brain can be exercised and strengthened and change over time and we are seeing that with him!