Need Support

Hello all SPD experts. I have found invaluable information from your website, and I first must say thank you. It has given me a wonderful start on my research into SPD. I have just purchased The Out Of Sync Child and will be reading it soon. I have reviewed your checklists endlessly. And while I understand that you cannot provide a diagnosis, I am seeking help in understanding what SPD is for my 3-year-old son and am hoping you can perhaps tell me if I'm way off base here, or if he does seem to exhibit some SPD symptoms. I am feeling somewhat helpless in this in that my son's father feels our son is a typical 3-year-old boy, with the rough play he seeks, and his "quirkiness."

Let me start by listing why I began my research…

About six months ago, he became particularly picky about his clothes. He has been wearing t-shirts and jeans all winter. He would wear shorts if he could all day, every day. Mornings are a complete nightmare and meltdown time in our home. I work, and so must be out the door at a certain time. I have tried picking clothes out the night before, for him to decide the next morning that is not what he wants to wear that day. He does not complain that his clothes "hurt" his skin in any way, just demands that they be a short-sleeved shirt, along with jeans for the most part.

He has a difficult time transitioning from sleep to awake, but I notice this more when I wake him, as opposed to him waking on his own. When he wakes on his own, which is usually the weekends, he is in a fantastic mood, ready for the day. During the week when we get up earlier, meltdown screaming time.

I would describe him as sensory seeking in that he wants to wrestle quite often, physical play with others, jumping around and running what seems like constantly. He has a stuffed animal he's had since birth that he rubs on his face for comfort. He wakes through the night at least 3 times a week, crying out for no particular reason.

It's difficult to describe his social interactions because he's with the same children and caregiver every day, but he seems to socialize just fine with familiar kids. I am anxious to see what his preschool teachers say about his interaction with other kids at school. At the playground, he tends to stop playing (usually by himself) and observe what other kids are doing,. He doesn't show much interest in playing with other kids, but he does ask me questions and seems interested in what they are doing.

He seems to have small "obsessions" with certain things - he'll get on a kick about a certain superhero for a few weeks and watch the same superhero movie over and over and over again. Then he'll move on to something else he'll "obsess" over. I guess I am at a loss in that I am having a difficult time deciphering what is normal 3-year-old behavior (tantrums, meltdowns, picking out clothes, quirkiness, shyness). Is this him seeking to assert his independence, or is there more going on? He wants to wrestle - don't most boys at 3-years-old? He is in a "bad mood" in the mornings - but so was I as a child. He doesn't interact much with other kids - but I was a painfully shy child.

So - I guess my ultimate request in my rambling is if you all can give some pointers or suggestions as to what I can do going forward. I don't have much support from his father and he thinks I am looney for even researching the issue. Thanks in advance for all comments.

The SPD Help Line Answers…

Well, it is certainly possible that he has some mild sensory processing issues and I don’t think you are “looney” for checking this out… what can it hurt to rule it out anyway?? The bottom line becomes whether he does have any processing issues and how much it is interfering with his daily life. The red flags that you are indicating are also concerning to me. Would you say he is not taking part in learning or playing experiences because of what may be discomfort or not knowing how or what to do? It sounds like this may be the case. If it is… I would get an evaluation.

It appears to me he may have some minor difficulties with transitions and/or changes in routine, motor planning, tactile defensiveness, internal regulation etc. My questions to you would be… are there significant differences in his behavior in different settings? Home vs. day care vs. public places, etc.? If so, there may be something going on. Does he have difficulty figuring out how to do things besides moving about on the playground? How to coordinate his physical gross or fine motor movements? Do you know what I mean by that? I know he only likes jeans and t-shirts… are there certain materials he refuses to wear? Does he dislike any types of touch? Does he/has he liked hugs and kisses or just firm touch in rough housing? Does he indicate anything as to why he wakes up at night? How much time do you give him to wake up in the morning? How do you wake him? Does it make a difference who wakes him or is it always the same reaction on the days he has to get up early? Mostly about the time of day? Are there more items from the checklist that you checked off? I would love to know if there were and which ones specifically… that may help.

Meanwhile… I would take your concerns seriously. It may be mild, but it may be there and you may find it comes out more when he starts school… or maybe not, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a professionals eyes on him! One article that may interest you is Why Mild Matters

Also, I would talk to other parents who have SPD kids via the online support group AllAboutKids; they may be able to help you identify how much to be concerned. The more you read in there and talk to them, the more you may understand and be able to identify or rule out any sensory processing issues he may have. I think that group could help you out a lot.

I say trust your gut and get this ruled out or diagnosed while he is young. Pay attention to the frequency, intensity, and duration which he does things… and how much it may be interfering with his daily life; socially, learning, or playing. If he is struggling to do any of these he may need an evaluation. Also, by talking to others in the online support group you may find out what is “normal” and what would be of concern at this point.

I look forward to your responses and hope you can find some additional answers via anyone posting here or via AllAboutKids.

Anyone have any input or advice?? Let mom know what to do from here, ok? Thanks in advance!

Michele Mitchell

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