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The SPD Companion, Issue #004- Adolescent and Adult SPD
June 01, 2006
Adolescent and Adult SPD: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment
First, I would like to say THANK YOU to all
who completed the site feedback form from last
month's newsletter! That feedback means so much to me, I
appreciate the time and effort you took to fill it out.
For those who are new, or have not gotten around to
filling one out, don't worry, you still can by going
SPD Companion Back Issue #3: The Gift Of Support
It is true that there are fewer SPD resources directed at adolescents and adults than kids. This, in part, is because often the symptoms and treatment are similar. So, it may have been assumed that much of the information can cross over and be relevant to the older crowd. (Additionally, there is less research on adults, but this IS changing!) But, there is only a handful of unique resources specifically for teens and adults regarding identification and treatment with age appropriate activities.
You are asking for help, and support and I MUST respond!
First, the teenagers...I know of many stories in which parents have never heard of SPD until their child was a teenager (if they were lucky enough to hear about it at all). At this point the parent and the child have been struggling for too many years; it almost feels hopeless. Parents have just about given up on their teens because they have done all they know how to do, and nothing seems to help. They are tired, they have exhausted every resource they know of, and used up every ounce of energy they had! Patience has all but faded. Add that to the normal issues which crop up for teenagers, and oh!... well you can just imagine!
I am sad to report that I even know of cases where teens have taken or destroyed their lives with suicide, alcohol or drug abuse just to deal with whatever is "wrong" with them! I have seen the extremes... the child just climbs deeper and deeper into a lonesome hole and loses any potential ounce of self-esteem; or they become the riskiest of risk takers and manage their lives through dangerous stunts and substances, anger, and social isolation. They too have "lost" their chance at healthy self-esteem (or so they think). Oh, it is just heartbreaking to see.
Please, let's not allow this to happen any more! I know I am
probably "preaching to the choir" because if you are reading this you
are most likely well on your way to becoming educated, or are already quite
knowledgeable about SPD. But, this is what I beg of you...spread the
word! Tell everyone you know about it. Tell one, they tell another,
they tell two more, and so on, and so on.
Now, about YOU, the adults...Have you wondered why you have such a difficult time with so many things that seem to come easy for others? Have you been given a mental health diagnosis and treated for that with little success? Have you always felt that something is not right, but didn't know where to turn? Have you been invalidated and misunderstood your whole life for things that you can't control? Do your sensory sensitivities significantly impact your every day functioning? Are you wondering if your "symptoms" are actually the signs of Sensory Processing Disorder?
Have you read Karen's Story yet? If you want to see what UNTREATED and misunderstood SPD has done to a 49 year old woman, read her story! It is guaranteed to make you understand the importance of identifying and treating SPD.
You must understand, there IS HOPE!! It is up to US and IT IS NOT TOO LATE.
Note: Even Karen is getting better! With our help, she has just begun OT treatment and is finding that her delicate skin is tolerating more since beginning the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol! She can't believe that she doesn't need to soak all her clothes in fabric softener anymore, and her nails are growing for the first time in her life because the feeling doesn't bother her anymore! If she continues her therapy, she will continue to notice positive results.
It's time to start listening to our teens AND adults! They are suffering too.
I can't even tell you how many times I have heard a mom or dad say, or finally figure out, that THEY TOO have significant sensory issues after first recognizing and treating their children for it! Now, there are parents trying to help their children and teens when they TOO have difficulties. That's right...put an SPD kiddo with an SPD parent, and WITHOUT treatment or support, we could very easily have a recipe for disaster!
But, let's look at it another way...who better than a parent with SPD to understand and validate their own SPD child or teen?! (Although not yet proven WHY, know that there does appear to be a strong "genetic" or "hereditary" component to SPD. Continued research should be able to tell us more in the years ahead)
So, what do we do now?
Second? Support and treatment!
Lucky you... I can get you started on both.
THE EDUCATION...Based on the "new" categories of Sensory Processing that Dr. Lucy Miller just revealed in her new book Sensational Kids, I have created an Adult/Adolescent Checklist For Sensory Processing Disorder! I do hope this helps you understand and recognize the symptoms so proper diagnosis and treament can begin!
Keep in mind, this is NOT for definitive diagnostic purposes, only to help determine if further evaluation is needed.
Some of you may even be so familiar with
the ways in which you have helped your children (if they have SPD) that
you have started your own "sensory diet". Others of you may, instead,
have a "flash" when you read it... "OHHHHH, SO THAT'S WHY I DO THAT"..."OHHHHH,
I HAD NO IDEA THAT WAS A SENSORY THING". Either way, let's identify it
for what it truly is, get rid of negative labels, get a PROPER diagnosis,
throw away that low self-esteem, and get on the road to "recovery". Once
you understand the "WHY" it is much easier to understand the "WHAT NOW?"!
The NEW Adolescent and Adult SPD Checklist!
If you find that you would like to know more about SPD and how it affects
adults and adolescents, as well as treatment and accommodation ideas, I would HIGHLY
recommend the following books...
How Does Your Engine Run? A Leader's Guide to The Alert Program For Self Regulation
; includes adult checklist and specific sensory diet suggestions!
THE TREATMENT: PART I.
OK, so you think YOU or YOUR TEENAGER might have a Sensory Processing Disorder
that needs to be evaluated and/or treated? Well, the first place I would
start is by contacting a local Occupational Therapist who has experience
treating kids and/or adults with SPD. Not sure who to call?
Being older is a mixed blessing as far as "treatment" goes. The down side is that these sensory issues were not addressed earlier, self-esteem has probably suffered and life experiences been missed. The up side, however, is that you have coping skills that younger children do not. You have probably, naturally, made accomodations in your life based on your sensory preferences. That may be working well enough, which is great! If it is not, however, we need to help you. If you are having difficulty functioning in any areas of adult "occupation", whether it be work, rest, or "play", then education and treatment needs to happen.
Besides reading and educating yourself as much as you possibly can, I have a few suggestions for support, which IS CRITICALLY important! First, counseling can never hurt. It may be a necessary part of your treatment, either individually or as a family. Let a professional decide. You have been invalidated or misunderstood for so long, it is almost guaranteed to have affected your self-esteem and coping skills. It's OK to get help! You need it, and it should be from someone who understands this disorder. If they don't understand the disorder, at least find a professional who is willing to learn about it. You NEED a good fit and validating therapist!
GREAT NEWS!! We have JUST formed an adult SPD support group!!
You need to know there are many adults with this disorder, that can offer help, support, or just a listening ear. It is a great place to talk to other parents and other adults that truly understand your struggles...
We are proud to introduce...
SPD Adult SHARE! Come join us at:
Also remember that many of the parents in the "All About Kids" group (which is the main support group we have been using) struggle with their own sensory issues as well. And while mainly focusing on helping their kids, you can find them supporting each other with adult SPD issues too...
SID-DSI_AllAboutKids! You can join over 900 wonderful families at:
Keep in mind, our beloved Michelle Morris is owner of both of these groups and does a wonderful job taking care of "her people".
So whether you are in there talking about your kids or you, it's all the same, we are all a big family and support each other in any way we can! Come join us in ANY of the groups for some much needed support!
PLEASE, UNDERSTAND... YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You CAN help yourself and your
child, it's NOT too late!
So, let's get you started "thinking sensory"!!
You need to already know, or TRY, different activities to see which ones produce your desired result. Each person's nervous system is individual and everyone reacts differently to various stimuli. Some activities help with sensory modulation issues, some for sensory motor, some for sensory discrimmination, and some can be used for all three.
Just use the guidelines above, think about
what you typically do to calm or rev yourself up, or what you have
difficulty doing and need some more practice or accomodations for... and
with the help of your OT, you can figure out what is right for YOU!
Wilbarger Brushing Protocol (under direction of OT), weighted vest, weighted
blanket, massage chairs and mats, spandex/lycra clothing under regular
clothing, swimming, bean bag chair, fabric softener, deep pressure/heavy
work activities before dentist/hairdresser, hammock and hammock chair,
warm bath, massage parlor, jaccuzzi or hot tub
Relax chairs, hammocks, hammock chair, glider rocking chair, bicycles,
jogging, amusement park rides, bench swing, swimming, waterslides,
exercise equipment, therapy ball, water skiing, tubing, sledding, jet
skiing, hangliding, sky diving, bungee jumping, rocking chair
Trampoline, bean bag chair, jumping jacks, running, aerobics, sports
(especially contact sports), sleeping bag, weighted products (vests,
blankets, lap pads, hats, etc.), massagers, massage chairs and pads,
tubing and/or knee boarding, massage parlor, tight clothing (spandex,
Relaxing music, earplugs, cotton balls in ears, musical instruments,
therapeutic listening program, white noise machines, water fountains,
nature sound machines and tapes, windchimes, headphones (special noise reducing or regular ones to block some sound and relax/distact you with your own music)
Vibrating toothbrush, nuk toothbrush, oral massagers, gum, sour candy,
straws with thick drinks, crunchy or chewy foods, sweet, sour and/or
bitter foods, lollipops, licorice, a warm cup of tea
Incense sticks, cologne, perfume, car sprays and air fresheners,
aromatherapy oils, carpet sprays, scented candles, potpouri, aromatherapy machines
Bothered by cleaning smells in your home? Then read...
Cleaning Solutions For The Hypersensitive
You will find many of these activities, products, and equipment at any of the links below. Others will only be obtained through your therapist, in a clinic, or within your community. Visit any of the following to find what YOU are looking for...
I know this was a lot of information to absorb...so, let's re-cap.
Another informative article you don't want to miss about adults with SPD is: www.spdnetwork.org/aboutspd/response.html
One last thing, as you read this newsletter I will be recovering from surgery. Assuming all goes well I should be back in (limited) gear in one or two weeks. If that is the case, I will be making next month's newsletter all about Sensory Diets! I will talk about activity suggestions and accomadations for home and school for all ages...the how, when, why etc., as a continuation to the sensory diet information I started this month. So keep this issue handy to refer back to. Those are my plans, let's hope my recovery is good!
If you have any questions from today's newsletter, feel free to contact me via the "contact us" form!
Until next time my friends...bear hugs for everyone!