SPD And Preemies... My Handsome Little John

by Nina Morris
(Austin, Texas USA)

He was a micro preemie. 1lb 5 ounces. He has always banged his head. Hard. He rocks. He will swing all day as peaceful as can be if you let him. He is almost three but still has little balance and is always running into walls. He doesn't seem to notice pain unless it is really intense. His tantrums have started and they are very severe in public. I don't know what to do.

I get so many mean looks and a woman actually told me that I "must not know how to nurture him because rocking is a sign of a child who feels unloved". I love my son so very much but I don't know how to help him. He has such a big heart and he is my sweetie. It's hard for him I know but I don't know how to help him cope.

He is in Occupational Therapy, and just started behavioral therapy. My fear is how things will be when John starts school and starts to show these behaviors. Please... what can I do to help my son?

He has been diagnosed with this disorder from birth, but I have seen almost no improvement. He has a weighted vest I am looking into installing a swing in my house to help soothe him. But what do I do at church? at school? at the grocery store? or at the park when he violently refuses to get off the swing for another person to take a turn. I am a single mom. My kids are my world. I love them very much. I just need some guidance as to better help him. Anything would be great Thank you.
Preemies need specialized care, and I commend you as a mother for obviously doing all you can to help this precious little one! Head banging and rocking can both be activities that are self regulating. It is not a "sign of being unloved" and the lady who said this to you was not nice. : ( You are already on the right path with him, by having him in OT and behavioral therapy, if that therapy is a positive approach with your son.

But I have concerns with your feeling he has not made improvement in the areas you described. You might want to ask his OT if s/he has been certified in a sensory integrative approach to OT therapy, or if s/he is SIPT (Sensory Integration and Praxis Test) certified. If this child has been in therapy for three years and you have seen almost no improvement, that is alarming to me. It is recommended that the parents observe therapy, and the therapist should be explaining what she is doing and why this helps, specifically. If you have not been given, or taken, this opportunity, know that it is a critical part of therapy.

You, as his major caregiver can help tremendously, and on a daily basis. So, your own knowledge about how to help at home is critical. I would suggest you ask your therapist these pointed questions, and if you are not satisfied by the answers, please do try to find another therapist.

Trying to find the "triggers" that are causing meltdowns can be daunting, but with a little help we can become pretty adept at reducing sensory overload, when we know what to look for. Dr. Lucy Jane Miller wrote "A SECRET" to help us do that, in her book Sensational Kids. These strategies hang on many of our refrigerators as seven easy steps to understand what is triggering our SPD children and how we can help them.

Read her book, understand the concept of "A SECRET" and hang the steps on your refrigerator, put them on a card in your purse, memorize them, apply them wherever you are, whenever you need to.

Additional information from a qualified OT, strategies to use when overload happens, and a sensory diet will all help. A hands on approach with specific activities and modifications will be best.

Anyone else have additional input? Submit your comments/suggestions for Nina and Little John below...

Michelle Morris
Administrator, SPD International

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