SPD And Toddler's Sleep Issues
I have a 2 and a half year old son who seems to fit much of the criteria for SPD. We are currently in the process of beginning occupational therapy for him. In the meanwhile, I was wondering if you have any suggestions for sleep time? He wakes up several times in the night and it is often tough to put him back to sleep. Sometimes he asks for all kinds of things that he played with during the day. This has been going on for about 6 months now, and my husband and I are so tired. We hope there is an end in sight. We try to be consistent with a night time routine every evening. But somehow that never translates to a full night of sleep. Any suggestions or feedback would be highly appreciated.
Sleeping difficulties and SPD are quite common indeed! This is a regulation issue and will take some time in therapy to overcome. It is usually one of the most difficult areas to address (regulation and the interoceptive sense), and often one of the last to improve (not always, but often).
But, do know this... you are doing all the right things by identifying this as a related SPD issue, getting him into OT and having a consistent night time routine. And, until he gets some good sensory integrative OT under his belt, you may have to ride this one out. Know if won't be forever, but it will require some patience (and naps for you!) from you until then. I KNOW it is difficult. I KNOW you are tired. This will eventually resolve (or improve significantly).
What can you do in the meantime? Make sure you keep reading all you can about SPD. My top recommended books can be found at
The Sensory Processing Disorder Bookstore. Make sure your OT is experienced in SI theories and treatment, and is approaching his therapy through that lens (i.e., working on neurological reorganization and regulation issues). Read the following articles, in particular: Using SI Theory To Solve Problems At Home (there is a particular section about sleep in it), Helping Baby Sleep (although some of it is geared for younger kids, it may still be helpful), SPD And Potty Training (although focused on potty training, it discusses the interoceptive sense which regulates sleep as well), Are You Ready For Sensory Itegrative OT? (helps you find the BEST OT and know their role and yours in therapy... what you need to know before starting OT), and 5 articles on the science of sleep. Try giving him an Epsom Salts Bath in the evening a few days a week. Use deep pressure massage techniques on him before bed
. Use a white noise machine or nature sound machine. As the OT if he is old enough for a weighted blanket, otherwise, stuff him and a ton of stuffed animals into a sleeping bag for bed... a nice tight, deep pressure feeling to help regulate his system).
I wish I had a magic cure for you as this issue significantly impacts your family as well as him! All I can say, at this point is try any of the above suggestions, be patient, follow through with all OT appointments and suggested treatments, as these should help.
One question-- what DOES he need to get back to sleep? How DO you get him back to sleep? This might be important information that could clue us into what more (or less) of something he needs.
Anyone else have additional suggestions or input for Pritha? Let her know via the comments box below.