Sensory Processing Disorder

*Tantrums happen when a child is trying to get something he wants or needs.
*Meltdowns occur when a child feels overwhelmed by his feelings or surroundings.

Understood.org

I haven’t shared too much lately about Asher’s progress. We’ve resumed working with Occupational Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder. It isn’t ADHD or Autism, but some symptoms are similar to those with such diagnoses. Basically, his senses are out of sync and he needs support to grow through it. These quirks can change over time, and may or may not be things he outgrows. They are often described as a “traffic jam” in his brain.

For example, he can hear a faint sound¬†of an airplane but is slower to register/understand when prompted. He benefits with and often demands us to help him bounce for very long periods of time to think/process or to have deep pressure for calming down. He only has about a dozen foods in rotation (beyond standard picky eater) when he used to eat mostly anything presented. While these may be very typical “terrible two’s” toddler boy things, he exhibits them to extremes greater than kids without such a diagnosis.

He was tested for this diagnoses on a standardized and widely used test. Assuming he is just “in a phase” or is somehow an unruly child isn’t the right perspective. Likewise, we’ve learned that this isn’t about how we are parenting him. It might stem from being a preemie, but not necessarily.

A key factor in this is handling tantrums and meltdowns. 

  • Tantrums happen when a child is trying to get something he wants or needs.
  • Meltdowns occur when a child feels overwhelmed by his feelings or surroundings.

When faced with a child throwing toys around, crying loudly, smacking anything in site – it can be very challenging to sort through the situation in the moment.

We’ve found our strategies all along with helping him. We were doing many things before resuming OT because we found what works (usually). The testing has relieved our minds in terms of concerns others have shared in our parenting (why we still sometimes wear him in a carrier, use a toddler leash, can’t keep him still and seated during some activities like other kids).

Working with the same OT that saw him as a newborn is fantastic. She’s helping us develop more strategies to work through hard areas with Asher, balancing when to challenge and when to just ride out the situation, and other areas to keep working on.

Helping Asher form positive coping strategies now is vital so that his learned behavior builds on that. Identifying as he matures how the senses are maturing, shifting, and changing will be critical as well.

The testing and label are not his identity. These do not give him a free pass to be disruptive, compulsive, whine constantly, etc. However, it does help to reveal more of his identity. It helps us to see how to best communicate with Asher, ways to challenge, praise, and enjoy him.

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Courtney Robertson

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