Self regulation in over stimulating environments

by Cyndi
(Illinois)

Hello,


I have a 4 year old with SPD that has delayed speech although has come a long way and speaks in sentences and understands most of what is said to him. I believe he has processing issues he's dealing with as well. He's a sweet loving kid who now can focus well in familiar and non overstimulating environments like home and daycare + special ed preschool. He has some behavior issues sometimes of not wanting to do what he is suppose to do (transitioning) but not debilitating.

Where I have the most problem is in very stimulating environments such as public places with lots of people. Fairs, carnivals, open environments. He just looses complete focus and can not even hear or process anything said to him. He wants to run from thing to thing but not wait in line (that is almost impossible although he has done it a few times now) to do what looks like a fun game to him. It's very difficult to handle him as he runs through crowds and doesn't last long as we have to leave. I avoid it as I know it's difficult on everyone but try sometimes though to stimulate him as I think those activities which should be fun for him are not going to get better if he doesn't experience them.

I was wondering if others have same problems and what may have helped in terms of any special therapies to regulate his system so he can take in the overload and handle better? I feel so bad for him as I can see in him he just can't process at all. I can't talk to him and when I hold him close to me and talk to him I can see he can't hear me. Any other situation he can focus on what I am telling him and respond but he just can't as I suppose he's just overloaded.

Thanks

Cyndi

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Sep 28, 2013
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I know of a supplement that may help!
by: Christyna

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Apr 30, 2010
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practice runs really work
by: Anonymous

Every trip to the store would bring on intense crying and out of control fits for my daughter. Thankfully she was evaluated early on, the sooner you begin therapy the better. The therapist we worked with told us to do the practice runs as someone else wrote about, run in for one or two things,and it really worked. We also had to work through going to the grocery store, she would want all of the foods, many times we ended up opening a bag of cookies or whatever just to get through the shopping trip then pay for the open bag checking out, i got the dirty looks from people for that, but they don't live our life get through the best you can.

good luck, hope this helps

Apr 20, 2010
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controlling what you can
by: Anonymous

We have the same problems with our son, 7. He was not properly diagnosed until 5. With OT for 1 year he is doing much better with the physical manifestations of SPD. Our approach is to "control the controllable." When going into an stimulating environment as a family, such as restaurants, theme parks, and public pool, here are some techniques that we have found success with. 1) Prepping him ahead of time by talking about the crowds and noise and coming up with a "signal phrase" that he says to us when he feels overwhelmed, such as "I need a break." The signal phrase means that we need to go home or that we need to find a quieter spot (i.e. bathroom or spot away from the speakers) for him to spend a few minutes to recharge. Then we praise him like crazy for recognizing what "his body is telling him." 2) Walking. When he was younger we kept him in a stroller/cart because he tended to wander off. We have discovered that the "heavy lifting" involved in walking around a theme park actually has a calming effect on him. We assign one adult to do nothing but keep track of him for his safety. 3) We simply avoid activities that are too overwhelming for him. He only goes to the mall 2x a year. We avoid the parades at theme parks. We stay at the public pool for no more than 2 hours at a time.

Our particular challenge has been stimulating environments that are outside of our control, namely at school. He is a bright child and a good student, but he comes home with a warning from the teacher at least 2x a week for acting out. These almost always happen during lunch and in math class. The lunch room is extremely noisy. Noise and heat are his 2 biggest triggers. The children switch teachers for math and so he doesn't do well with the transition. Report cards in his school aren't actual letter grades, but rather O,G, and S. His teachers mark him down to S, not based on his academic performance but on what they perceive as his "lack of self-discipline and lack of social graces." He has a 529 plan that outlines his classroom accommodations and each year I sit down with the principal, the teacher, and the school psychologist (none of whom have heard of SPD) to explain my son's conditions and request the accommodations that he needs. His teachers often "forget" the accommodations that he needs and violate them. I am my wits end. I'd prefer to have him removed from the cafeteria everyday, but worry that this would exacerbate his problems, since lunch and recess are the only times that the children are allowed to talk during the day. Does anyone have any advice as to how to handle stimulating environments that are out of our control as parents?

Mar 19, 2010
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This is what we've come up with....
by: Anonymous

Well.....its a long hard road. We have been dealing with this for over 3 years since being diagnosed. Aspergers and sensory processing also, surprise, LOL.

Anyway, i find that if i sit him down and tell him the schedule for the day, it helps alot.
He needs to be prepared emotionally and sensory wise as well.

If he reads, you write it down and give it to him
If he doesn't , you give a picture schedule.
After that, you give the verbal on what you will be doing that day.

You tell him what behaviors you will expect from him, you tell him if he does a great job, you will have a special thing for him,
Before you leave the house, you give him whatever sensory in-put he desires.
THAT, has save me for so many things, giving sensory in-put immediately before doing whatever it is your going to do. But its not fool proof either, but 65-75 percent of the time WORKS FOR ME!! LOL

Any questions please feel free to ask!!
Kim

Mar 15, 2010
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sorry
by: Anonymous

I have the same problem my 4 yr old daughter is student of the month at prek ese. I read somewhere online to do practice runs. For instance my daughter and I would just go to the store a small one for two things. then we worked up to bigger stores and longer times. then brought along her brother and sister. I recently took her to sea world this time she was amazing. I warned her of the crowd and she did wonderful. My daughter has had lots of therapy all kinds. Which really help. Dont get me wrong though carnivals are a no go for us. Between the people and the lights and the noise, it is just way to much.

Feb 28, 2010
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Thanks
by: Cyndi

Thanks for your comments. I'm glad to hear there are others out there (even that brings a little relief I'm not alone). I agree though I haven't found much in the way of specific therapy to address this over stimulation of a busy environment and inability to cope in it when normally he can cope most of the time well. I have started to read a little on Metronome Therapy. I can't find too much out about it but it may be something that helps. When I brought up to school OT she said that there are listening programs that can help this area. If anyone knows more about Metronome Therapy I would be interested and perhaps should start a separate thread for that. Thanks

Feb 28, 2010
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spd behavior
by: Anonymous

sorry not to help. I suggest that possibly choose quiet places, the inappropriate behavior of children is part of the disorder. I have the same situation and understand you. There are difficult days. Also we do not find adequate answers.regards

Feb 28, 2010
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Same problem here
by: Anonymous

I have run into similar issues with my 4 YO son as well. I'm sorry to say I don't have any suggestions but would love to hear what others have to say. Best of luck!

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