How Can Adults Get Help?

by Annette Hunt
(Berlin, Germany)

Dearest people who invented and helped work on this great, great site. I have a son, six years old with SPD and he must have somehow inherited it from my husband. When I read through the checklist for adults I almost had to laugh because I FINALLY FINALLY found answers for my husband´s "weird" behaviour that I have been wondering about for ten years!!!

He does not like to eat hard food at all, but he is very excessive in eating soft food, for instance he has to have his yogurts every single day or he is really upset when he does not get them. Is that typical, too? Also the problems with not liking to "cuddle" and being sensitive to light touches, that is a tough one for me. He is also the kind of person with SPD that runs away when visitors are here, he never seems to hear what I say when there is another noise in the room, he is sooo easily distracted but when the TV is on the whole house could get on fire, he does not notice anything around him anymore then.

But there are many other problems, too. He is hypersensitive to smells, he is angry about changes in his routine and he also is not very social with other people at all. He is not happy about the way things are. My son has gone to occupational therapy since he was two years old. Then we took a break because we thought he was better, but now he goes again because he has big problems in school. I just ordered all the books mentioned on your website about SPD so I can help my son better.

How could my husband get help though? Occupational Therapy is only for children, right? Thanks for your answer. We live in Berlin, Germany.

Best regards,
Annette Hunt

Hi Annette,
Oh, I am so glad you finally feel you have discovered the root issues of your husband's difficulties. Just having a name sometimes makes it a little easier. It "depersonalizes" it. That there is nothing wrong with you or him... that it is his central nervous system/brain causing these difficulties. It's no one's fault! And, there is hope.

First... no, Occupational Therapy is NOT just for children, even regarding SPD. This is a common misconception. My friend Michelle Morris, has even seen a 77 year old man get help through OT and make improvements!! How cool is that.

That said, I want to "warn" you about a few things. First, if your husband does not see a problem with his behaviors and "anxiety", he may not be motivated for treatment. If it significantly interferes with his daily living, he may however, find relief in knowing there is a "name" for this, and there can be help for him to feel more comfortable! You are going to have to talk to him gently. The first place I would start is to have him fill out the Adult SPD Checklist. Then, for even more understanding, he can fill out the General SPD Checklist, thinking back to his earlier years. My hope is that, if presented from the standpoint of finding some explanations for some of his issues, he will be open to getting some help. If you approach it, not from a "I want to fix you" approach, but rather, "I know there are many things that make you uncomfortable in your own skin sometimes, and I think I may have some answers for you" approach, he may be willing to listen. It depends how open minded he is and how uncomfortable he is.

The next "warning" is that as adults with unidentified/undiagnosed SPD, there are MANY years of making accommodations and adaptions to handle the symptoms. These have become ingrained behaviors that will not change overnight! But, many can change with professional help. And, just understanding where it comes from should help a lot! You will both have to work hard and support each other through this process, with tremendous understanding and patience. But, the other side of this can be a life of much hope and more enjoyment for you both. I would not only recommend OT, but a psychologist, or couples counseling as you work through this. There are things you both will have to do and strategies you can both implement.

The first book I would suggest you both read, as it is geared for adults with sensory defensiveness and other SPD issues, is Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight. This might give you both a better understanding and strategies to help. (Note: there is another great book for adults with SPD coming out soon. When it arrives I will post it on my site and/or blog!)

The next recommendation I have is to join the adult SPD online support group. It is a great place to meet so many others who have gone through/are going through the same things! Many of them also found out they probably have SPD after getting the information and diagnosis for their kids. This is not unusual at all! Information, support, awareness, and strategies that can help will be what you need. OT can help with all of that too. But, while you wait for an assessment (if he is willing!), the adult support group can help you both!

And, if you need help finding resources in Germany, you may want to contact one of our SPD Parent SHARE Hosts, Kathryn Smith of She would be a great resource for you too!

Gather as much information as you possible can about SPD... read the basic books, as the concepts apply to children as well as adults. Don't let the fact that it is discussed from the standpoint of treating a child deter you... they are still the same issues and can be dealt with the same way (with more age appropriate strategies, of course... easily modified if you truly understand the underlying concepts).

I would love to know how your husband reacts to these suggestions and/or the checklists! Can you give us an update after you talk to him about it? Or have him give us one?? I would like to see you both get some help on this one! I hope an OT in your area is available to work with him!

Oh, one more thing... there does indeed appear to be a hereditary component to SPD... but they have not yet fully identified what. There are many causes... that being just one potential. Hopefully, your husband can be even MORE helpful to your son, because he can understand and relate to his issues! Who knows... maybe they can even do therapy together... just make him feel like he is there for his son, not as much for him, you know?? What will help your son will probably help him too.

Hope this helps.

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Oct 15, 2008
by: Anonymous

I am extremely sensitive to touch. I don't know if I have SPD but it is suspected that my daughter does.

But I want to tell you not to be discouraged by him not wanting to be cuddly. I have the same issue. Mostly I am ok if I am the one initializing it. But I get very uncomfortable when my husband does. Its not that I don't want the closeness its just a physical reaction that I have no control over. He might be just as upset about it as you are. I don't know if it helps but I wanted to give you insight into the other side of it.

I wish you the best of luck with this.

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