How To Explain SPD To Your Child

by Lisa

How to explain to your child the disorder?


My 10 year old son has SPD. He was a preemie twin at 27 weeks, weight 1 lb. 13oz. He was diagnosed early, around 2, and had different therapies until age 6. He is now in 5th grade, and we've been having a lot of emotional issues and anger issues we're dealing with now.

Not sure what to do at this point? I feel we need to try to help him understand more about Sensory Processing Disorder, and how this is possibly what is causing some of the issues we're dealing with. Just not sure how to explain it to him?

Do you think we need to go back to some therapy with him, or get professional help to deal with this? Even though the school system didn't/doesn't think we need this anymore?

His behavioral outbursts are really causing a lot of stress on the whole family, and I'm sure on him.

Thank You,
Lisa B.



Hi Lisa,
First, I want you to know that it is not uncommon to have "flare-ups" of SPD symptoms at various times during development. And, don't be surprised if it gets worse for a while now (pre-pubescence) and/or during puberty. In light of this, and the fact that he is having significant emotional and anger issues, I would DEFINITELY recommend he get back into OT for a "tune-up", some additional programs and therapies he may be ready for now that he is older, and for both of you to get a good grasp of his SPD and how it is specifically affecting him. If you aren't clear on it, it will be hard to REALLY explain it to him.

There are some GREAT companion programs out there now that weren't as well known or available 4 years ago. I'm not sure exactly what his particular issues are, but , some of the programs that could be useful are: Therapeutic Listening, EyeQ, Brain Gym, Interactive Metronome, Wilbarger Brushing Protocol, Astronaut Training, The Alert Program, etc. Your OT would have to decide if any of these programs would be helpful or appropriate for his needs.

It will also be very important that he go to a private OT, not the OT at school. This is for two reasons. One is that the school OT isn't being supportive of his needs right now. Second, because the therapy will be more intensive and a whole body approach vs. an educational approach. More areas will be addressed since the school system is only obligated to provide treatment based on educational issues. If his issues are more emotionally based (rightfully so based on his SPD), it may not be interfering with school performance, per se (yet). So I encourage you to find an OT experienced in Sensory Integration/Sensory Processing theories and treatment.

Additionally, counseling can't hurt! It has been VERY helpful for my daughter regarding anxiety, SPD issues, adolescence, feelings, emotions, general support, etc. Just make sure you find a therapist who knows about SPD, or at minimum, is willing to learn about it. Also, you may need to check a few therapists out to decide which one would be the best fit for your son. If they don't have a good relationship, then therapy could backfire, in a way.

Last, you might consider brushing up on SPD; especially some of the newer resources. My top recommended resources can be found at my bookstore. AND, you are in luck... I wrote one of my monthly newsletters, The SPD Companion, specifically about the information you are seeking. Please read; Explaining SPD To Your Child. Hopefully this will help you understand how to talk to him about it.

Let us know if there is anything more we can do.

Anyone else have any input... how do YOU help your children understand SPD and how it affects them? Any input would be appreciated! Just use the comment box below.

Take good care.

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