Son may have SPD, need help getting assessment.

by Momof3boys

My son is 9 years old. What brought me to this site is quirky behaviors and constant humming.

I've been researching "constant humming in children", and have read that autistic children hum (he's not autistic), gifted children hum (maybe), and this may also be a symptom of sensory processing disorder (more likely). He has been humming since he was three months old. It seems to sooth him. I thought he would grow out of it, however he is humming more then ever these days.

From what I've read so far sensory process disorder makes the most sense. I've always thought that there is something going on with him, but can't quite put my finger on it. He has not had too many behavior issues in school, he is quiet, but at home he can be a real challenge.

He does have trouble with focus, yet at other times he gets so focused that you can't even speak to him. At home he hums constantly, when playing, watching TV, doing homework, etc. The humming is just one behavior, however he has other behaviors that make me wonder what is going on with him, and several from the list of SPD signs.

He seems to have a problem with perceiving personal space, he is sensitive to touch, he has a really difficult time focusing if someone else is talking in a different room (at home this is when he lashes out, and at school I think this is when he gets really quiet).

At school I think he is missing out on learning because he doesn't focus, and withdraws, whereas at home when he can't focus or cope with the what he perceives as noise he gets frustrated and lashes out at either a us, his brothers, or what ever object may have offended him. Every teacher he has had, in our first interview with them have said that they haven't quite "figured" him out yet.

When you talk to him about subjects, he knows about them, but he can't seem to communicate his thoughts on paper efficiently. He progresses slowly through the beginning of the school year but by Feb or so things click and he gets good grades. He is fearless/impulsive, and has never cried or even flinched when getting his vaccination shots, yet it is the end of the world if he gets a bug bite, totally obsessing over it.

One other thing he has always done is clench his toes, curl them under and either walk on them, or just sit on the floor with his legs extended, toes curled and whole body clenched (since he could sit). Whats up with that? Does it sound like he could have this disorder? He is smart, has a great sense of humor, and quite pleasant. He just seems to get over-stimulated often.

I want to be able to help him, to be able to cope better myself because his behavior at home can be pretty challenging. Any OT specialist I can talk to in the Ottawa Ontario area?

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Oct 20, 2016
Definitely SPD
by: Anonymous

Hello, I just want to leave a quick comment about your post. I am unable to see if anyone else has commented or responded. I am also unable to see the date of your post but I am hoping someone has reached out by now.

I am not an Occupational Therapist or a professional in this field. However, I am a mom to three daughters and have recently been immersed in a world of SPD, Vestibular Dysfunction, Retained Primitive Reflexes, Propioception Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, etc. My oldest daughter was diagnosed in March at 5-1/2 years old with Vestibular Dysfunction (most symptoms being atypical) and mild Propioception Disorder. Of course she also has SPD as the Vestibular System is responsible for carrying all of the sensory information to the brain.

Based on what you have written, I would say a few my opinion (again, not a professional), your son most definitely has SPD. The poor sense of personal space is a classic sign of Propioception Disorder. My daughter has so many of the same or similar symptoms you describe with your son. She is extremely sensitive and her feelings are very easily hurt. She reacts to the noise distraction (particularly from my middle daughter) exactly as you are describing.

I had her in Kindergarten for 2 weeks before admitting to myself that she was never going to learn effectively in a traditional environment and needed to be homeschooled. Every paper she brought home was completely blank. She is incredibly bright but generally unable to communicate her knowledge clearly.

She does not walk on her toes but her toes do point inward when she walks. Her right foot is significantly worse than her left and we even saw an orthopedic surgeon in March. Of course, we did not have the Occupational Therapist evaluation until the following week so we were unaware of her low muscle tone and Vestibular Dysfunction diagnosis at that time.

Now we know that for her, the toes pointing inward is a result of the Vestibular Dysfunction impacting several other systems in her body, including her muscle tone. I believe toe walking is also a sign of SPD but may also be an indication of another issue. It seems to me that I may have seen it listed on the Brain Balance website as an indication of a retained reflex but I can't be sure.

I would definitely suggest researching each of these things you mentioned as they will help you put together a clearer picture of what is going on with your son and perhaps you can be more prepared for the OT evaluation and diagnosis.

I would also highly encourage you to look into the possibility that your son is what they call Twice Exceptional or 2E. Twice Exceptional refers to a person who has a learning "disability" and is also gifted. Gifted children are usually not high performers in school. They have trouble focusing in school, are often disorganized and very often have sensory issues.

Believe it or not, a great sense of humor can be a sign of giftedness. My daughters are now 6, 4 and 3. They are all incredibly intelligent and show a capacity to learn and retain information extremely quickly. They have all exhibited a sense of humor at a very early age that seems far beyond their chronological age. My oldest had a severe speech delay yet my middle daughter was speaking in sentences by 18 months old and by 20 months, used a vocabulary of over 400 words.

I have been so focused on my oldest that I have just recently started considering that my middle daughter likely also has sensory issues and something else going on. She is very social and makes friends easily (opposite of my 6 year old who loves kids but is shy and generally unsure of what to say.) My oldest had/has a delay in her fine motor skills and I am just realizing that my 4 year may also have a delay but certainly not as obvious.

I found your post because I have just finally put two and two together and realized that my 4 year old humms a lot...for some time, we have noticed that she also seems to be soothed by it, usually doing it when she is tired. However, she also seems to be doing it more often and not just to annoy her older sister as we first thought.

Like your son, I remember my daughter making humming noises when she was just an infant and we always thought it was so sweet how she "hummed" herself to sleep. She just started preschool and I had my first parent-teacher conference for her today. This is when the social issues with my oldest daughter first came to light and today, the teacher told me that my 4 year old can not sit in one place and remain focused for more than a few minutes. She is definitely convinced there is also something going on with her as well, even though many of her issues appeared to be almost opposite of her older sister.

Where my 6 year old constantly walks about the house, acting out stories with a make-shift, pretend fish or butterfly that she waves or flaps back and forth, (craving sensory input) my 4 year old is less physically active but is almost constantly talking, asking questions, instigating conflict with her sisters and humming.

At this point, I know I need to have my middle daughter evaluated to try to determine what, if anything, is going on with her OTHER than SPD. I am already confident, she at minimum, has mild SPD but I believe there are more layers with her as well.

I have not had them evaluated for "giftedness" yet as the recommended age is 8 years old and we do not have the funds to do so at this point. However, I have connected with another local mom who's son is Twice Exceptional and she has pointed me to more information and answers than I could dream of.

She informed me that siblings generally have an IQ that only varies a few points between them so if one is gifted, it is also likely that the others are gifted. In her (unprofessional) opinion, based on conversations and video she has seen of my oldest, she believes that she is gifted. She is gifted herself and has written several articles about Twice Exceptional children, recognizing giftedness, and intrinsic learning.

I would be happy to try to get the two of you in touch at some point if you would like. I believe her son is 9 as well and shares many of the same traits/behaviors as my daughter.

Please feel free to reach out to me by sending an email to (It may take me several days to respond.)

Because my oldest daughter's symptoms generally did not fit many of the Vestibular Dysfunction checklists, I know that I could spend months doing my own research but I need to schedule a professional evaluation to find clarity and get the appropriate therapy. It was so much easier for me to put the pieces together AFTER my oldest was diagnosed; I could not have figured it out on my own.

There are almost an infinite number of possibilities as every child is different and symptoms can manifest so differently. I would absolutely urge you to get a professional evaluation by a highly recommended Occupational Therapist. They will have "simple" tests to run your son through and in our case, 5-1/2 years of quirks, sensitivities and frustrations were all explained and answered in one hour. It was astounding and brought me to tears.

Best of luck to you and your son as you try to find the answers you both desperately need!

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