Immediate Help for Sensory Shutdown

by Mary
(Illinois)

My son seems to go into complete shutdown mode when faced with new or crowded experiences. i.e. at the zoo, at large family parties, at the Chicago air and water show. It is as if a haze is over him and he exhibits extreme low energy although does respond to his name and he does go about his normal activities in a manner with low energy and spaciness. He will not immediately respond when someone new, that he does not know addresses him. If we spend the day at the zoo, beach or other excursions, he remains in shutdown mode the entire day.


At first I thought it was his blood sugar, but I see no change in behavior associated with diet. He is 4 years old. He receives therapy but my question is is there anything I can do to get him to come out of shutdown mode right away. Should I plug his ears? Apply deep pressure? What can I do to help him? Thanks!

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Feb 20, 2015
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looking for help
by: Anonymous

our son came from an orphanage at 2 1/2 he had been diagnosed deaf at 6 mo.he is not deaf.he also has an extremely high pain tolerance. sometimes it as if he does not feel pain at all, depending on the situation.doctors are telling us this not possible.looking for anyone who can direct us to resources to the contrary

Jul 09, 2010
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shut downs
by: Anonymous

My son would have these anytime things got to hard for him to handle. I learned I could "get him back" if I got down literally to his level looked him in the eye and helped him breathe. It is kind of like coaching someone through labor. Deep breaths in through the mouth and out through the nose for him it helped him center and come back. This usually happened if the noise level was to high for him. I happened once in school I had told the teacher that this was possible and was told she would take care of it. I received a call from the school telling me that my son was in the office and not being cooperative. When I got the the principal informed me that my son did not know where he was or how he got there when he would talk to the principal. The noise level had been to high for him and he just shut down. This has not happened since but I can always bring him back this way.

Oct 08, 2009
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calming strategies
by: OT

I would try giving him a backpack with a hefty book inside for weight, the weight is calming, also sucking or chewing on something can be calming in high sensory stimulating environments. Some proprioceptive input prior to a stressful activity such as hanging from a door frame or table edge, pushing against a wall, crawling, pushing or pulling an object that has some weight to it ( I load up a laundry basket with toys and have the kids push it around )theraband that the kids can stretch, hand fidgits and weighted lap pads....hold him tight in your lap on the floor and rock him....hope some of these ideas help !

Aug 25, 2009
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Get Diagnosed
by: Mary

Just wanted to update everyone, I got a final diagnosis for my son... he has an arachnoid cyst located on his posterior fossa. Basically, spinal fluid enters the brain and does not drain as quickly as it enters. Most are asymptomatic but my son was diagnosed hypotonic in infancy with gross motor delay, had an abnormal eeg showing focal seizures and then started exhibiting the sensory issues noted here.

I'm healthy, my husband's healthy and I have 2 other healthy children. I pushed the neurologist for answers and I finally got it. I'm thrilled and want to share my story as many of you need to be persistent with regard to your children's developmental delays from a neurological standpoint. There is an underlying cause to this nonsense and people need to find it.

Aug 23, 2009
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Thanks
by: Mary

Thanks Kim! We had an outing today at the race track and it was packed. I started the day off with a little protein for breakfast along with a deep pressure exercise, I take an exercise ball and roll it over his back and butt while he lays flat on his stomach. We brought his favorite stuffed puppy with and his favorite blankie and although he did get overwhelmed at times, he was definitely with me and not in zombie mode all day. I think I know how to handle this now. Thanks for all the advice. We are seeking assistance from a therapeutic, neurological and nutritional standpoint and hopefully my son will get the help he needs to thrive. Good luck with all of your children and God Bless. :)

Aug 21, 2009
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Also a great read!
by: kim

Also order, Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), by lucy miller, i believe, also very helpful!!!!.

I do hope SPD makes it into the Dms next year.
It is such a debilitating thing to have, our poor kids!!!

I just had my sons IEP, and told them every possible story i could about him, because of SPD, and luckily, i asked the school psychologist to join me at the IEP, he is fully aware of it, SMART man.

Also the OT who was there was absolutely behind me 100 percent.
Boy, those people (teachers and aids) are like , woah, i think they are scared because they know i mean business.

I told them if he doesnt have sensory in put about every 20 minutes, he wont be able to comply.
The psychologist and OT agreed.
Hes HIGHLY intelligent,(my son) (Whos 5) but......if you have aspergers and SPD, it doesnt make a difference how smart you are unless you are regulated, no-one is going to see how smart you are, because you cannot Give appropriate responses if you are not regulated!!! He will actually , after 15-20 mins, have passed, if hes taking a test, if he doesnt get the break for in-put, he will deliberately start to give wrong answers!!!

Boy are they in for some work, LOL
I actually feel sorry for them,
But his Behavioral specialist was also with me, and she put it this way to the teacher "just think, you could have the next Bill gates, how cool would it be if you were a part of his growth", "embrace this child and you will be amazed!!!" LOL Shes too cool!! LOL
So, they will have ANOTHER eval, this kid gets evals like they are going out of style, LOL
Im not complaining.

But stick to your guns, make yourself knowledgeable, and you can inform people on his behalf!!
KIm

Aug 20, 2009
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Thank you!
by: Mary

Thanks for all of your input. I do think it is sensory integration with selective mutism, in fact, he went to preschool and didn't utter a word for the first few months. Teacher thought he was so cute and shy, not shy at home. I am going to try talking to him more about where we are going and what we are doing, showing visual pictures and I guess puppy and blankie are coming along for the ride too. ;) Thanks for all of your help and please keep the comments coming. Does anyone know how to apply deep pressure? He starts ot in 2 weeks so I guess I can find out more strategies then but I'd love the input here as well. Thanks in advance!

Aug 20, 2009
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My daughter does the same thing
by: Anonymous

My daughter is almost two and in the same way you described your sons actions, she also shuts down and basically doesn't respond to anyone or even ignores people. Typically, this happens when she doesn't get her way or if there is too much chaos about her. She is in OT and Speech therapies for her sensory processing disorder. In fact during our sessions this week, she completely shutdown and ignored the therapists because she was not allowed to do what she wanted to do. The Speech therapist asked if I would leave the room to see what would happen.

After about 10 minutes of crying, my daughter and her therapist had the best session ever. I'm learning about my daughter every day and now I won't attend her therapies so we can see if she will respond more appropriately to her therapists without me as the distraction in the room.

Aug 20, 2009
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Try this stuff!!!
by: Anonymous

Yep, sounds like he overstimulated and shuts down.
My son does that or goes in to a sever meltdown, one or the other depending on how regulated he is that day.

You can try before going anywhere to give him sensory in-put and let him KNOW visually and or in writing where you are going and at what time(and show him a watch or clock) you will be leaving.

bring with you headphones, fidgety toys and a weighted lap pad, and his favorite things to bring with him in the car that give him sensory in-put and just a familiarness to carry with him where ever you go.

Ive done all this and it helps ALOT. Not 1000 percent but ALOT more than not,

Good luck and let us know if it helps!!!
Kim

Aug 20, 2009
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book
by: Alisa

I have ordered the booked "The Out-of-Sync Child" I have used the booked the "The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun" in the past and it some great games to help my kids.

Aug 20, 2009
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Selective Mutism
by: Angie

My son does that too. In the book The Out-of-Sync Child they describe Selective Mutism that sounded like my son.If you don't have the book maybe do a internet search and see what they say about it.
Angie

Aug 20, 2009
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Shutdown's
by: Alisa

I have never heard anyone use that term before. I to have used the term shut down to describe what happened to me growing up. My shuts down were far more extreme I would get sit crossed legged on the ground with my hands in my lap and refuse to respond to anything and if some one tried to pick me up I would run away and then shut down again. There was lead up or spaciness and withdrawal behaviours before I fully shut down. While in shut down mode it did not matter if other kids kicked me or hit me or teased me I just wanted so bad to be some where else in side my head that would make me feel better than I felt at that moment in time. I felt more scared to interact with people than of being teased and hurt by other kids. I'm 31 and now diagnosed with General anxiety disorder but it took till I was 25 to diagnosed.

My 4y has the kind of shut downs your child has and I'm scared he'll end up as bad as me. My son becomes hyperactive and seems unable to co-operate, unable to understand instruction's, unable to make decisions and so on. Yet one on one he's most co-operative and focused child you could ever expect of a 4 year old and more. He's been diagnosed as having mild anxiety behaviours. I just hope I can help him get better and stay strong and not let anxiety take control of his life.

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