Dealing With The Extreme Tantrums And Emotional Ups/Downs Of SPD

by Stephanie

My daughter is three years old and has had issues from day #1. She has come a long way, but it is still SO DIFFICULT being her parents. She is constantly flipping out over what appears to be nothing. She has absolutely ZERO ability to self soothe or calm down. Everything with her is so dramatic. I realize that she isn't intentionally meaning to make us crazy. I realize that she is struggling so much to "keep it together". At the same time, it is SO HARD! I just want our days with her to "flow". Everything is painstaking. Everything is a battle. So much screaming from her, so many tears, in constant need of attention, demanding, can't do anything on her own, little ability to entertain herself, super lethargic, etc.

She's received Early Intervention services since she was 1 year old and now is the highest functioning child in her special education class. She receives OT twice during the week and is in a special "socialization" group.

She is VERY bright, articulate, and loving when she wants to be and when she is able to be.

I am so looking to hear from other parents about how it is for them and how they manage. I need advice on how to manage and maintain my own sanity. I also have a 15 month old that is picking up bad behaviors (screaming, hitting) from my older daughter... and I am pregnant with a third due in 7 weeks. Thanks!

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Take time to do this for yourself, ok? Make sure you talk to these other parents about specifics regarding the therapy she is receiving. I know she has made progress, but I am concerned that she needs so much more. It seems that if your OT is experienced with SPD, is doing the right therapies for her, if she is getting therapy often enough, and if you are following a sensory diet and doing programs at home every day, 2 years of therapy should have gotten her further. I am concerned that her system is not more integrated and regulated after 2 years. Talk to others in the group about this, ok?

Make sure you are involved in the things I mentioned above. If not, talk to your OT about what else you can do and the concerns you still have! See what the OT thinks and maybe talk to other OT's as well?? Make sure you are on track with the right intensity of therapy and the right activities that will help her regulate and integrate her neurological system.

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Toddler brains
by: Anonymous

I want to say this for what it's worth because I'm sure you know of the parents who think they are doing everything right and we clearly see otherwise. Obviously there are different ways to treat different children however there is one universal emotion and that's love, right? With that being said... No matter a child with sensory disorder or not, they learn A LOT fom us parents, sometimes more than we'd like. Ha ha. But how we deal with they're dealings in life...teaches them how to deal with life right? We can technically MAKE our child scared crazy of the dark...obviously none of us would want to do that but we might be installing fear and or frustration in just how we handle them. Are we consistent? ....At the same time loving or consistent and mean? They will learn if we love them and care or just want to be in control and have them obey. Do they know when we've read the last story we've let them have another drink and finally we say it's time for bed....that we mean it. When we say "one more" do they know we mean it? Their brains are being wired" together so to speak in these delicate years and we need to realize really how we are being around them, how we talk to them and talk to people around them, how we deal with situations and they see us and of course how we deal with them.. Might be an eye opener for many...

i understand
by: ismael

My son is 5 years old, I understand what you are going thru, my son has meltdowns lasting up to an hour and he will hit me, bite me, screams out, spits, and sometimes even hits himself, I have tried to hold him and it does not work, he gets more angry, I,be tried putting him in time out and he destroys anything on his way, not I have to stand next to him in an area where he can't hit anything and ignore him as he tries to do all the above actions. When I see that he's ready or ask him, I will count to ten in a calm voice and then thank him for waiting the ten seconds...its very hard. Sometimes I just wanna give up but I can't, he's my son and I love him..I ask god to help him and give me strength..

Dealing with tantrums
by: Mammata

Only moms with "out-of-sync"kids really know how hard it can be sometimes. I fully agree with the first mom about remaining calm and loving and speaking in a gentle voice - I have also found it to be the correct approach with my 3,5 year old son.

The only problem is that we are also just human beings, who also get our own "out-of-sync" days when we really also just don't have the resources and strength to implement this strategy.
I do find myself sometimes reverting to becoming really upset and angry - especially if I feel that it is a behaviour that is REALLY inappropriate for his age. I know they can't help it - but sometimes I do suspect that there is a little manipulation and "normal" toddler naughtiness creeping in, and that they are testing our limits (like any toddler would, I guess).

And then afterwards I feel so bad for having had my own meltdown (which I guess is also really inappropriate for MY age!! LOL)

My strategy is to constantly remind myself to keep perspective: he is a lovely, clever, happy, healthy, gentle and beautiful young child. In the greater scheme of things, we are incredibly blessed. There are tons of moms out there who face challenges a million times harder. So when the "bad times" get me down, I forgive him - and I forgive myself for not always responding perfectly - and then we forget about it and go do something fun. Every day is a gift! And together we grow

Try these...
by: Anonymous

My son is 2.5yrs, and has EPIC meltdowns. Here are my observations: I stopped reacting emotionally to them; that is to say, I put my emotions in check, and display ONLY a calm, loving face, a soft smile, and direct eye contact, and speak in a very low voice (which makes him have to be quieter to hear me, and it is just more calming - it sounds like your in control when you talk low.)

Have you ever watched them closely during a meltdown? I mean, really took an unemotional observation of their behavior? They are terrified - they have lost control, and it scares them. They lash out, but what they really want is someone to hold them while they work it out. After all, its safe in mommy and daddy's arms. I also notice that it happens on the heels of over stimulation - during downtime, when we normally process the days events. I intrinsically feel that my son's brain takes "in" all the days events, but cannot process them "out" yet. And - you know what? I think sometimes we need to remember that not every tantrum is a meltdown, and that they ARE toddlers, they will throw themselves down and pound the floor if they dont get a cookie, or hit when they want something, or grab something and throw a tantrum when you take it away. Thats just toddler/young child behavior.

And as for those types of tantrums, we respond with appropriate discipline (for our family, that means sitting on the time out spot for two minutes, and then apologizing). As for meltdowns, I "one up" my sons meltdowns by displaying a calmer state-one that becomes ever calmer to his intensifying meltdown. Once I started this "Super-relaxed" technique, I noticed an immediate reduction is both the length and intensity of his meltdowns. In fact, when he feels a meltdown coming on, he now seeks mommy or daddy out to be held, and when he's done, he is loving and happy again. We have started taking him to a quiet room and sitting him tucked in close beside us (quietly supportive) while he has a meltdown and plan to gradually increase our physical distance while giving him his special lovies (blanket, stuffed lamb)- the eventual goal is to get him to recognize his need to take his own "time-outs" and learn to self-soothe without being destructive or violent.

Also, we never "talk" to him about his meltdowns, we just give him our silent understanding, acceptance, and unconditional love - no criticism or judgments. We know if he could help it, he wouldnt do it - no one wants to feel like that. My advice - start over with your son. Accept his current personal limitations, but model the skills he needs to begin to control them himself. I bet once he feels the pressure to behave a certain way is off of him, and he learns how to cope by himself, there will be much fewer meltdowns.

Extreme Meltdowans and night fits
by: Anonymous

I am at a loss for words at this point in time. My son who is 4 1/2 has SPD and is very angry with me, not sure why it's towards me but when he melts down, all me wants to do is hurt me.

We have been seeing an OT for a also most two years now, and it doesn't seem to be doing that much for the SPD.

We have also had some changes in our lives and along with that we are moving to Portsmouth,Va.
He is not willing to be brushed at all and wont do his therapeutic listening. Tonight he woke up with having to go to the bathroom and I helped him like I always do and he got mad which sent him over.

He than wanted to hit me,kick me slap me, bit me. I have been told by his OT to hold him and give him the hard pressure while he is having these fits, but the problem is he will either head butt me or I am not strong enough to hold him.

His behaviorist has tried to get him to take his anger out on pillows a punching bag, anything but me. Its not working. I am at a total loss. Please help is there anyone who has the same problem?

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