New School, Moving, And Transitions

by Lisa Burman

My child is an 8 year old twin girl who was diagnosed with SPD early in her life. She went to OT for several years and seemed greatly improved. However, since a move and a new school, she has become much worse. She does not have friends, is upset all the time, can't sleep, hates school-everything bothers her. All of her sensory issues have come back and are even worse. Can most kids with SPD stay in the public school? Do medications help? I can't seem to calm her. Help!

The SPD Help Line Answers...


Don't worry, yes, this is very common with our SPD kids and I know it is alarming. She will recover from this soon.

When our kids need to adapt to life changes, as she is having to do with the move, the new town, the new school, no friends, everything is different for her, you can expect a certain amount of temporary regression. And right then it feels like our kids have lost all the progress they had made, doesn't it?

What you need to do, is immediately go back to a strong home sensory diet as her system is on overload and appears to be crashing. She really can't help this, but you can help her get through this. Go back, as if it was the beginning, and do her brushing protocol, deep pressure, joint compressions, weighted products. Add extra proprioceptive movements and heavy work activities before and after school. When she wakes, maybe a massage, or a warm Epsom Salt bath to help her feel relaxed while she is getting ready.

Do the whole kit-n-kaboodle. A sweet candle? Soft music playing, breakfast ready and clothes laid out. Try to reduce all home sensory over stimulation and go for soothing, calm and quiet in the mornings. A long deep bear hug from Mom can help steady her.

I'd like for you to read an article about how to help her when she gets home from school, too. Even though this article is primarily dealing with kids who meltdown once they get home, but not during the school day, there is much information that will help guide you through the evening. Holding It Together.

We try to keep their lives predictable, and constant with few major upheavals, but Life happens, and sometimes we have to just work through changes. What I believe you will see, as soon as you realize this can and will get better because you truly are not back at square one, is that she will recover quickly, settle down into her new routine, and feel calm enough to begin making friends and handling the transitions.

If you can stick with an increased sensory and calming diet for her, even just a week or several weeks, usually our kids come back out of it much sooner than we expected, because of the work you both have already done. She's on tilt... and you can help her find her balance again. : )

If she doesn't? Then I would be taking a good hard look at the school classroom and procedures. Asking questions and finding out what is triggering her and setting her off specifically. You may be able to get accommodations to help her during class. For some ideas that may help, read Using SI Theory To Help Solve Problems At School

Do some of our kids need a private school, charter schools or homeschool? Sure. Yes, some of us choose a smaller class environment, or a more hands-on approach to learning, or even homeschool, so we can focus on their strengths and remove the stress? These are mostly parents who believe in homeschooling already, or those who know their children will not get the accommodations or learning environment they need to be successful. If you can give her a few weeks to reduce her stress through a strong consistent sensory diet then you will know what might be the right answer for your daughter or your family. If you want to read more about your options for homeschooling, you can read this article about homeschooling an SPD child: Jumping Off A Cliff Into Homeschooling.

Good luck to you.

Michelle Morris
Administrator, SPD International

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