Body rocking and crying to sleep

by Anna
(New York NY)

I have a 2.5 year old daughter who is a body rocker. it got much worse when her brother was born when she was 20 months old. We began OT 4 months ago and it seemed to work a little at first, but the past 2 weeks the rocking has gotten really bad (very frequent throughout the day). I feel like my she does it when she's overwhelmed and cant' control her environment, and also when she doesn't get enough attention. But i can't tend to her all day long with my 9 month old around either.


Also, her quality of sleep is very poor and she seems tired/anxious often even though she sleeps through the night. She's also very anxious and cries herself to sleep almost every day chanting the same words "i want daddy to sleep on the couch next to me" I feel lost and don't know what to do to help her. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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May 17, 2011
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breaking rules
by: Anonymous

i believe there are boundaries they have to learn in order to live in a society,thats the goal for spd kids, but timing is the key. for sure there have to be rules, but when its the right time to make the rules? my son its making me a better person in any possibles ways, but i get tired, we have to stop our lives in order to make them be part of this world, but if it makes us be a better person is it wrong for brothers and sisters?

i dont know for sure but i want to believe that trying to help, trying to understand, trying to love someone that is not easy to love, i want to believe that can only bring love, hope, and better person, so yea they have to learn to share, to tolerate frustration, not to focus in obsessions, to deal with so so many things, so why dont we give them more time.

i cant imagine the broken heart you must have as a mom because its difficult to care and to provide love to your two kids and that they need so much different things, but time must be the key. what would your son will learned for your love, time, and dedication to make your daughter get in sync, i can tell you that an example that big,only bring amazing things... so what its timing means for me, yea hitting its not allowed, thats a rule it cant be break, but if she hits him you can put her on time out. but even if shes grounded you can be with her. its like letting her know that you still love her but hitting its something that cant be done. so if you are with her, you make her feel safe and anxiety might not appear, and at the same time you are teaching her that aggression is not ok.

she has to learn that there are other ways, and you can take your boy with you when shes calmed down and teach her how to say no to her brother, and help her say sorry. thats hard for spd kids, but she can maybe learn her own way to say sorry,and it dosent mean she dosent love him but she cant handle it.

know she needs time, you can make the time she needs, no hitting its not aloud but what is it? we are not sure, so she is lost right know:it is not fair for your son, for you and your husband. and its not fair for your daughter, it just not fair,but it happens at our homes...we dont want our kids to miss them self not even for a second. so we must break normality, we must break timing in rules, we most learn how to make something that break our hearts in to something that really make our heart stronger, we have to be strong so we can make our spd kids strong enough to live, we have to give them time to learn to manage things at home in order to manage life...

May 09, 2011
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New York
by: Anonymous

AJ- thanks again for all your comments and resources. :)

May 03, 2011
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Utah
by: AJ

I feel your position, trying to be the best parent to both of your kiddos. My son requires much of my attention during the day, and much more effort and patience on certain days, depending on how well he is self regulating. It's so difficult some times to balance it and make sure you are giving the time and attention to the other kids in the home.

does she always rock when you tell her no, or discipline her or get frustrated with her? my son does the hand flapping at those times or also when he feels no control over a situation of if he's anxious or even excited. it's certainly a coping mechanism for him. we are at the point now though that he's old enough to try working on exerting that energy into something else more productive & verbal. which is something the ot has given insight on.

i agree with you about continuing to try and find and ot and see what kind of resources and ideas they can hook you up with. because i have found with my son, it is about helping them pin point and then address the triggers and helping them learn to deal with things when they don't go as expected or when it does cause some anxiety. they have to learn effective coping strategies so that they can deal with life as it comes. have to learn flexibility at some point, right?! you're wise and you're a nurturer, i can tell that from your comments. :) and you are doing the best you can. kudos to you for seeking help.

i agree too, that there are certain rules that are just 'not ok' to break. i would classify hitting or physical aggression to be one of them. it can be difficult to teach these things to child, let alone children who have a touch of spd. but we can't walk on pins and needles with them, we have to draw the line and have boundaries for sure. and we can't always control the environment, we can only learn ways to help them deal with those things that set them off.

i think as your daughter gets a little bit older and can verbalize a little bit more to you, that will improve. one thing that has helped my son is talking to him about emotions and how things make us feel. we did a lot of art and creative out letting with this topic. if she likes to doodle or color, maybe you can try to introduce different topics that you feel she struggles with and help her draw pictures to depict emotions and ways to deal with those emotions. she may be a little on the young side, but it can't hurt.

also, i was just introduced to another website not too long ago, it's:

http://www.modelmekids.com/

there are some great dvd resources on there about all types of topics and situational events. my son responds well to movies/videos and books. just a thought. :)


May 03, 2011
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NY
by: Anonymous

Caro- thanks for your comments. i've tried to so many things to decrease her anxiety, but its very hard. we dont really know what sets her off, its always something different each day. and to be honest, how is she going to deal with life if she can't handle changes coming her way? Especially with the baby in the house, I can't control this environment enough to make her feel less anxious. We tried multiple times in the past to have her sleep with us, but we ALL lose sleep. she thinks its playtime when she's in bed with us and she always ends up back in her bed to finally fall asleep. She would feel better if I slept next to her in her room but its not realistic when I have to also tend to another child. My sons needs have been shoved aside plenty of times to give my daughter the attention she craves all day long, its just not fair to him. She has to learn to adapt to different situations, I am hoping that OT will help her learn these skills. THe problem is, when we tell her she can't hit her brother, and she has to share, she breaks down and starts to rock. Am i supposed to forget the rules there? let her do what she wants? I'm trying to be the best parent I can be to BOTH my kids.

May 01, 2011
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body rocking
by: caro

Hi, i have a 3 years old boy and one of are biggest problem is sleep time, he dosent go to bed if he hasn't have like about 30 to 45 min like relax time in the bedroom before go to bed, he had this terrible nightmares that sometime last like 2 or 3 months in a road, and he cant have a nap because he says " is day mom the moon is not out yet i cant go to sleep", and he looks sleepy all afternoon, i didnt know what to do, so i decide it was worth it to break rules to make him rest, because it was like being on a circle he didnt sleep well, he was tired, he got more anxious and more sensitivness and that makes him have more nightmares and everything again, so what it worked for us it was breaking the circle, last Christmas i told my husband that we all needed to rest, so as he got really anxious i make our home the place he had to feel safe, so we did not went out and no one came in to our house, for about 9 days, he started to relaxed and so i broke more rules, he slept in bed with us for 3 or 4 nights, so we all could rest, he felt less anxious and we cut out the bad circle we were into..with a baby at home i can imagine everything gets harder, but you can find out what rules or habits you can break or change to make her feel less anxious.

Anxiety makes them have hand flappings, rocking body or other thinks that they use to focus the anxiety so the main problem to work as a goal it might be anxiety for you as its for us, i really hope you find a way to work with her anxiety. The overwhelming part is that everything can change or come back at any time, but ones you find the sensory diet for your daughter you will see that those behaviors that took her to stop maybe days weeks or months she will learn to stop them in just days and the goal ist maybe hours, wish you the best.

Apr 28, 2011
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Utah
by: AJ

keep plugging away! :) with the things you are doing to try and address what's going on, it's bound to get better!!

Apr 27, 2011
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NY
by: Anonymous

LOL, my husband often says to my daughter "wait till you're a teenager and i'm waking YOU up at 630am!" We've come to accept that she isn't a fabulous sleeper. If she didn't have this rocking behavior all day long i wouldn't be as concerned about her catching up on her sleep now. I worked with a sleep consultant in the fall and she said maybe when she catches up on her sleep the rocking will stop. It decreased significantly for about 3 weeks, and then she got a horrible cold. We all did, and were very sick for 3-4 weeks in December. Since then we haven't been able to get her back on track with her sleeping, and the last month the rocking has been AWFUL.

She is NOT a cuddler. Oh how I wish she was! Its part of her SPD. And the times i've helped her fall asleep she ends up getting up multiple times during the night looking for someone. I'd help her every night if she just then slept through, but in the end it hurts her sleep rather than helps her.

Since starting OT she is better at touch and i've even gotten a hug or 2 out of her. I'm hoping now that the weather is getting better (it was a harsh snowy winter here in NYC), wish more opportunities to head to the park every day maybe this will help her expend her energy.

good luck with you too! i'm thankful for this website to find others who have gone through what i am now


Apr 27, 2011
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Utah
by: AJ

i would suggest trying the epsom baths for a couple weeks. wow-she's hardcore on not going to sleep! that's rough. does she get physical activity during the day? that's been one key thing for my son, LOTS of opportunities to expend energy. i've noticed a huge difference on the nights when my son still struggles to settle in and fall asleep, those tend to be the days he wasn't as active.

i wonder what your pediatrician would say to giving her a small dose of melatonin to see if that helps her calm and become sleepy. i'm sure you've heard of it, it's just a natural alternative (the body already produces it. i'm not big on medications, but i do think there is a time and place for them and especially temporarily.

when my son was about 3 i had him on melatonin for a couple months (i just dissolved it in his milk or watered down juice). that was through a naturopathic doctor recommendation, because he was not sleeping through the night still and having night terrors as well. idk, something to consider maybe.

does she like to snuggle and be close to someone at night? my son is like that, at age 5, i sometimes still have to go in and lay next to him for 10 minutes while he settles in. but he sleeps with a body pillow which i think has helped, because he senses that he's got something to curl up next to or be close to. try the weighted blanket at night or a weighted vest during the day even maybe... maybe she'll catch up on her sleep when she's a teenager. :) that's what they say, we spend the first half of their lives trying to get them to sleep and the second half of their lives to get them to wake up!

so tough. keep plugging away! good luck.

Apr 26, 2011
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NY
by: Anonymous

Yes, she definitely has vestibular processing issues, that is what my OT said. She didnt' score across the board, but is sensitive to noises and has tactile issues.

I've always been on top of her hearing and artic issues, she was a late talker but caught up quickly and is pretty intelligible now. She never had an ear infection. We'll see what happens as time goes on. We're at the point where she is so overtired she flat out refuses to sleep no matter how tired she is. (i've been listening to her sing and bang her feet against the crib for 40 minutes now, usually takes her over an hour to fall asleep).I have no idea on how to help her catch up on sleep! we are very good about keeping a schedule (nap at 1230, bedtime at 7) but the amount of time she naps and how long it takes her to fall asleep at night it so random and erratic. I even put Epsom salts in her bath tonight and i guess it is not working. I tried to wrap her up like a burrito but she rolled right out of it.

thanks again for all your help !

Apr 24, 2011
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Utah
by: AJ

all just suggestions of things to consider or try or read about... :) that's how i had to do it a piece at a time, asking around, trying to educate myself, making a therapy plan with an ot, etc.

adenoid enlargement?! interesting. maybe that is affecting her quality of sleep huh? does she have any challenges with auditory processing? like hearing or articulation? maybe the body rocking is an indication as well of not just anxiety or being overwhelmed, but maybe a coping mechanism for vestibular issues she could be experiencing which would be related to ears and adenoids? the vestibular processing could also be a source of her appearance of being tired all the time. check out this link and maybe scroll down and skim the page for symptoms and explanation and see if you think it fits your daughter-

http://nspt4kids.com/health-topics-conditions/vestibular-processing/

when you did an eval of her and received an spd dx, did she score across the board in the different areas or just in a few?

my son has some of the vestibular challenges that it sounds like your daughter has, but they present themselves almost the opposite way that your daughter's do. so fascinating.

well, good luck with the adenoid issues. maybe that will really help her to have them removed? i have a friend who just had her son (age 4) dx with sleep apnea and she had his adenoids and tonsils removed and she said it has made a world of difference for him (he is not spd, but his quality of sleep was poor and was affecting day to day activities in a difficult way).

Apr 23, 2011
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NY
by: Anonymous

AJ- thanks so much for all your comments and advice. Its good to feel i'm not alone with all this. We do use a white noise machine and have seen an ENT recently who said she may have large adenoids. We began using Nasonex to shrink them down and I think its working (she no longer breathes heavy or snores). I never thought that the daytime tiredness may be due to her anxiety. So many appts to make just to rule out allergies, sleep apnea, etc.

Like you said, there is only so much patience, time and money to try everything, but our children are worth it all.
:)

Apr 22, 2011
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Utah
by: AJ

do you think that perhaps she's sleeping well but that the tiredness and anxiousness during the day is just her way of reacting to what's going on around her? maybe she has a vitamin deficiency that is playing into her lethargy during the day? sleep apnea is another topic you may want to read on, perhaps she has some of those symptoms?

cont.... if you think her sleep quality is poor maybe trying white noise at night (like a fan)? is she a light sleeper? i often use lavendar oil on my son when he's restless or has a hard time turning his mind off at the end of the day. he also has compression pajamas that he wears at night some times as well which seem to help when needed. he went through a period of night terrors, which i think was anxiety related... she doesn't have those does she? ugh, anyway, so many things to try... only so much energy, time, money, and patience to try them. :)

good luck, from one mother to another! hope something here may help you.



Apr 22, 2011
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Utah
by: AJ

so sorry you are overwhelmed! i know the feeling in relation to dealing with these types of issues and trying to sort things out and find the right balance for your child on so many levels.

and i'm sure it doesn't help to have some stranger saying 'it will get better' and trying to cheer you on, because when you're in the moment, it can be so difficult. but for what it's worth, you are making an effort and your are aware and you are a concerned parent-that will make a huge difference, especially that you are taking initiative so early on. :) you will find the right combination of things that will work for your daughter, just takes time. and as she gets older and is more able to vocalize things to you, that will help.

anyway, so to answer your ?, my son is now 5. he was dx when he was almost 3, but i knew all along some things about him were 'quirky' and that he was neurologically wired a but differently. i just couldn't pin point what was going on.

we did all kinds of different tests, different therapies, tried different diets, limited sugar intake and artificial dyes. there are so many things that can be going on in their little bodies and when they are small it's so hard to know and to sort it out.

i think the 'how your engine runs' program is useful for sure, but i don't know how young they start doing it with children, we just started it recently. but i would bet there are a few things you might could glean from it that would be beneficial.

has your ot talked to you at all about the willabrger brushing technique? that can be helpful for children with spd, we have a brush and use it, less regularly now that we once did, but i can tell it makes a difference when we do need to use it.

here's a link for magnesium cream that we use, there are many out there i'm sure, i tried a couple before settling on this one and really like it. it's a little pricey but has been worth it for us. i use it on my son in the mornings before school, in the afternoon when he gets home and then again before bedtime.

http://www.kirkmanlabs.com/ViewProductDetails@Product_ID@124@Product_Group_ID@1.aspx

i also have my son on a daily probiotic (which is actually really a good idea in general, so we all take them) and on limited sugar and dye containing foods. i've seen a difference in some of his behaviors for certain. do you think your daughter has food allergies or sensitives at all? is she picky eater or have food texture issues? my son had issues with milk from the beginning and so we have used rice milk and supplemented with multivitamins for anything he might be deficient in. we had a hair analysis done a couple years ago which was interesting and accurate i thought. and we also did a couple different allergy tests, didn't like the pin prick skin test, but thought the electrodermal testing for allergies and sensitivities was the most accurate for what i was suspecting... i'm going to have to continue in another comment...




Apr 22, 2011
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NY
by: Anonymous

AJ- thank you so much for your suggestions. im just feeling overwhelmed at this point. She is sleeping with less complaining at this point, but i'm worried about the quality of her sleep as she seems exhausted all day long. I'm wondering, if in addition to your suggestions, i should go for a sleep study and allergy testing to see if anything else can be affecting her sleep and causing her to rock.

is there a type of magnesium cream that you buy? i think that may be better because often I bathe my children together and I don't want to use the salts with my 10 month old.

How old is your child? Will the "how your engine runs" program work with my 2.5 year old. I feel even though she is bright in so many aspects, when it comes to how her body feels (thirst, hunger, tired) she reverts back to a 1 year old who just cries!

thanks so much

Apr 20, 2011
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Utah
by: AJ

ok- this is my third attempt to post this, for some reason the page keeps shutting down on me and everything is lost....

i didn't think my son would like the weighted blanket, but he does. not all the time, which those of us know our children with spd are anything but consistent. :) but the blanket has helped. i also made a 'lap pad' for him to use when he is feeling anxious or needs to calm or organize himself. here's a link if you're interested in making one. they can be pricey to just buy.

http://www.davidsblanket.com/downloads/Weighted-Blanket-or-Lap-Pad-Instructions.pdf

if you make one, use poly-pellets, they are the safest and they are machine washable. a little expensive but if you use a coupon at the craft/fabric store it will help offset the cost. also, perhaps your daughter would respond to being tightly swaddled like a 'burrito' before bed. sometimes that helps my son and we roll him up and talk about all the topping and things we like in a burrito. he enjoys that.

we also broke down and bought a 'chilly swing' for my son and we mounted it in his bedroom. since he too responds well to swinging.

magnesium cream helps my son and i do epsom baths as well.

another thing we recently implemented is tools and wording from the 'take 5' or also known as 'how does your engine run' program. the idea is to teach children to recognize how their bodies are feeling (their engines) and what they might need to help their engines run better or just right at different times of the day.

http://www.alertprogram.com/

we have a sensory 'toolbox' for my son to choose from when we notice or he notices he needs help self regulating. has worked well. if you need ideas i'm happy to try and share some. but essentially it's a plastic storage bin with all types of things in it and ideas and pictures that we have drawn or cut out as well.

these kids needs us. :) they are bright children, and they are ours because we know how to or will learn how to give them the tools they need to be successful and happy in life. it's a journey for sure! good luck!


Apr 20, 2011
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bath
by: Anonymous

i forgot to mention, baths don't help either ,but i need to try Epsom salt with her (the OT recommended this)

Apr 20, 2011
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OT suggestions
by: Anonymous

AJ, My OT recommended a weighted blanket but my daughter hates blankets and kicks them off in a minute or so. She does not like massage or anything heavy on her, not much calms here besides swinging at the park (not music either). I need to try the blanket anyway and see if it works. she has gotten better about not crying when we put her to bed. the rocking, however, has gotten much worse. we dont know what to do and no one seems to have any answers for us. she is a typically developing child other than SPD and this rocking

Apr 20, 2011
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Utah
by: AJ

does your OT have any ideas for you? have you tried calming music cd at bedtime? have you tried bath every night before bed or magnesium cream for soothing and calming? have you tried a weighted blanket at night or nap time?

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