Could It Be SPD?

by Cami
(Phoenix, AZ)

My 4 1/2 year old daughter has some symptoms from the checklists, but not a lot. Somethings run in spurts; very sensitive to seams in socks, must be perfectly straight to doesn't care about this at all.


The past 2 months she has become extremely sensitive to her sibilings not doing what she wants, crying over everything. Not wanting to sleep in her bed. She seems to get upset over transitions. She has always had a hard time going to sleep, but it is even worse. She talks/plays in her bed for hours sometimes, which makes her sleep deprived and even more sensitive.

She recently, about a month or so ago, started doing something strange. She will hit her head and say "stop it brain" over and over again. When I ask her why, she just says her brain won't stop it. Sometimes if you ask her a question she will say "stop it brain" several times before she answers. She says she has make her brain stop first. When I tell not to hit herself in the head she will stop. She has also verbalized that her brain counts a lot. I asked her what her brain did when I said "house", she said it says house, mouse, louse, bouse etc., then she has to tell it to stop.

She tells me she has to tell her brain to stop-it a lot when she's at preschool.

HELP - my good natured, easy going child, is now easily angered, over sensitive, crying all the time and tired. What could this be????

P.S. She is extremely bright, has a gifted brother and is more than likely gifted in math. Maybe this accounts for part of it?

The SPD Help Line Answers...


Hello!

I am glad that you wrote asking these questions! Sensory Processing Disorder can manifest in various severities and sensory systems. Each person will be different in symptoms and behaviors.
One of the hallmark signs of SPD is the inconsistencies. You have not mentioned that she is in active therapy, so I take it she is not?

These symptoms and behaviors you mentioned are not at all uncommon with a child who has Sensory Processing Disorder. It is not as important the number of symptoms you checked off on the list, but the severity of the one's you did. She is showing some severe symptoms and behaviors that are impacting her ability to live a typical child's life, have good relationships and will also negatively impact her ability to learn, if she continues without treatment.

When an SPD child does not feel in control of her feelings, her responses, her body and even her thoughts, we do frequently see controlling behaviors. They may desperately try to control anything or anyone they can. In an unconscious effort to feel in control of something in their lives. You may be able to redirect her in a more positive way by offering her choices, many choices, through out her day.

Give her two or three choices, as often as you can. Examples:
"Which outfit would you like to wear today. This one? Or this one? YOU choose."
"Which game would you like me to play with you, this one, or that one? You choose."
"What do you want for dinner? This? Or that? You choose."

We see it can help these kids, to feel some measure of control and we can offer them that, in more appropriate ways. The... head banging, and racing thoughts are also not uncommon with many of our SPD kids. The repetitions, and rhyming? Yes, this is looking a bit like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and maybe ADHD, but you really would have to have her seen by a professional to differentiate between behaviors that can LOOK like one disorder, but may actually be another. Sometimes we see children diagnosed with several disorders initially, and many of these co-occurring disorders are regulatory and/or processing disorders also. But as therapy progresses, the symptoms and behaviors commonly subside, until we are then wondering if SPD was the root of the problem after all? Because the children are getting so much better!

Can SPD affect all these issues you have described? YES. Is it possible with therapy she can and will get a lot better? YES. There are many strategies I would like to offer to you, to help her sleep, and to help her and the family cope. But the single most important thing your daughter needs right now is to be evaluated by an Occupational Therapist who has been SIPT (Sensory Integration and Praxis Test) certified and has experience in pediatric SPD(click here for a database of SIPT Certified OT's). The longer she waits, the more severe her symptoms may become. The sooner she is in active therapy, and you are learning what to do for her, based on her Goals and Treatment plan provided by her OT, the sooner she will begin to recover.

Once you have a plan, please do come back, and based on your therapist's recommendations, we can then help guide you to the activities suggested for your daughter. No child is exactly like any other in their needs for therapy, so I wouldn't want to steer you in the wrong direction.

The best news I can give you today, is that she can and will get so much better, if she gets treatment and you learn and do all you can to support her therapy at home. I have no doubt that she is a very bright child!

And as she begins to improve, and these alarming behaviors begin to subside... you will not only see the sweet, lovely child she really is, but will begin to see those gifts shine through, because she will be able to let them. This is not a quick fix, this therapy, but with your help, it will be sure and steady progress.

(I would like to talk with you further on the phone if you are interested. Please contact Michele Mitchell via her contact us form on this site to give her your phone number to give to me, if you want.)

Michelle Morris
Administrator,
SPD International

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