SPD kids have tough mornings? Is this typical? Transitions

by HP


I was wondering if the following were typical characteristics to the child with SPD (specifically tactile and some Movement/praxis issues, etc.). And, yes, my daughter was diagnosed with SPD, but I worry there is more going on there; more issues than I know...

Anyway, every single morning (on school days) my daughter fights with us, cries and just makes the entire family miserable before leaving for school, especially regarding socks and shoes. She is 7 years old. Last week was a good week (we may have only had 2 fits) -- this week, everyday so far we have had big time temper tantrums.

She always ends up making the bus on time (amazingly enough); but is all red for her morning worth of crying. I worry she is ADD or Bipolar. She is so moody in the morning, and so upset -- just feeling like she can "blow up" because she is so angry. By the time she leaves for the bus, she hugs us and says that she loves us, and she is sorry. I feel so bad, because she says she can't help her behavior, and then she feels regretful and guilty after.

Is this normal for a child with SPD? I am concerned, and wonder if I need to take her to a psychiatrist.

PS - at school she excels, does well, and is happy.


The SPD Help Line Answers...

First, I must apologize for how long it took me to respond to the two questions you sent in. They were similar so I combined them into one. You probably wrote the second because you weren't sure the first came through? It did, and I sincerely apologize for the delay!

Now, on to your concerns. From what you have said, my opinion is that her morning difficulties are definitely related to the SPD... I will explain further. So, based on the information you shared, Bipolar Disorder wouldn't appear to be the problem, and a psychiatrist (especially one who isn't familiar with SPD) may not be the best immediate path right now. I am not ruling this option out, as I do not know the whole story, but your daughter's issues in the morning can indeed be easily explained through a sensory lens. The only thing that would really make me suggest pursuing a psychiatrist regarding a Bipolar Disorder would be if the mood swings and tantrums were happening at a variety of times throughout the days and unpredictable. This, from what you have shared, does not appear to be the case?

That said, here are my thoughts regarding what might be going on. Transitions are hard, especially for SPD kiddos. MANY parents struggle with the sleep/wake or wake/sleep times. Our kid's bodies either can't settle down for sleep or can't wake up well on their own. This is an internal regulation issue that is quite common with these kids and they do need extra help to get through these times. Additionally, the fact that she has specific issues regarding praxis and tactile input means even more stress to her morning routine.

She is correct, and quite insightful actually, when she says she can't help it. Poor thing... what a struggle it is for her every day!

My theories about what may be going on are...

1. Tactile defensiveness causing very painful and uncomfortable sensations as she struggles to put her clothes on. The DO hurt her, literally. Leading to a melt down.

2. Praxis issues may make it to plan how to get dressed and difficult to physically get dressed; what arm goes where, which shoe goes on which foot, how to tie them, which way she should move each body part to get her clothes on the right way, what order to do things in, etc. She may be struggling with praxis and discrimination issues that makes the actual act of getting dressed and other morning tasks extremely difficult and frustrating. Leading to a melt down.

3. Self-regulation issues that make it difficult for her system to go from one state of arousal to another (i.e., sleep to awake). Her internal regulatory system is not giving her brain and body the proper signals to transition from asleep to awake. Again, not her fault as you know. Very frustrating. Makes her feel helpless and out of sorts even before all the morning demands begin. Again, leading to a melt down.

So... given that this all makes through an SPD lens, especially since she carries that diagnosis, here is what I suggest instead of a psychiatrist in the immediate future...

First, make sure she is receiving proper sensory integrative OT with an experienced OT to help with the regulation issues (which, I must honestly say is the hardest part of SPD to treat, but can make a difference).

Second, make sure the OT is addressing these particular issues with strategies both in the clinic and at home. Several articles that should help you understand what could help are:

Sensory Diets

Creating A Home Sensory Diet

Treatment Activities

The Wilbarger Deep Pressure Proprioceptive Technique For Sensory Defensiveness

Using SI Theory To Help Solve Problems At Home

Third, make sure the OT (or PT) are evaluating the praxis issues to see if dressing is difficult for her from a movement and sensory discrimination point of view. Make sure to find out how the OT is addressing this issue and what you can be working on at home to help her make any accommodations needed, and to help her develop the integration and developmental skills she needs.

Fourth, reconsider your morning routine. I'm not sure what it currently looks like, but the following components may need to be a part of it (work with your OT for specific strategies that may help)...

- slow, gentle waking with lots of extra time-- gradual increase in lighting and sounds... VERY gradual; little increases at a time and NO sudden changes (i.e., blinds going up fast, lights just flipped on, alarm clocks going off, quick demands, etc.). Her body absolutely needs more time... you may have to start waking her an hour earlier if bad enough

- some gentle, deep pressure input on her body through gentle massage or rolling a small ball over her body, etc. Maybe even using a weighted blanket at night to keep her system calm and regulated

- light a nice gently scented candle for some gradually alerting, but calming aromatherapy (have her pick a smell she likes at the store... maybe try cinnamon?)

- have her try on and/or lay out her clothes the night before and have her put it out in the order she will put it on

- she may enjoy, or need to, wake up with a nice, warm soothing bath with energizing bath salts. Just let her soak in it for as long as her body needs... the deep pressure and relaxing but stimulating bath may help her wake up more gradually

- have her wear a weighted vest or use her backpack as she transitions both in and out of the house in the morning through various routines

- pick a few heavy work activities she enjoys and can do for a few minutes in the morning

- try some "compression" clothing under her regular clothes (i.e., tight lycra/spandex underclothes/t-shirts/shorts or a leotard)

- make sure she has a good sensory diet in place that is being consistently followed every day

Try these suggestions, talk to her OT, make sure her therapy is intense and frequent enough for her needs, and make sure you have a good, solid home program in place.

Let her know you understand how hard it is for her body to get ready in the morning and help her plan with you what will help her. You may also want to read, How To Explain SPD To Your Child and have HER read The Goodenoughs Get In Sync, so you both have a better understanding of how her SPD is affecting her specifically and how you can help her through this.

I hope this helps get you started. Know that many kids and parents have, and do, struggle with similar problems! But, there are indeed strategies that can help.

Does anyone else have any ideas? I'm sure there are other parents out there who have been right where you are today!! Feel free to comment below. Any advice would be appreciated.

Comments for SPD kids have tough mornings? Is this typical? Transitions

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Jun 30, 2011
SPD kids have tough mornings
by: mommaof6blessings

I have 6 children 3 have sensory processing/integration disorder.
Children with SPD can have bad mornings. I have learned the worst thing is rush... If your child has a bad morning make sure you wake them up early if need be so you have plenty of time for them to take their time. Find some kind of clothes that may feel even the tiniest bit better for your child. I totally recommend HANNA ANDERSSON you can buy them cheaper on ebay.
If their sock hurt let them go without whenever possible, try crocs see if they work, they can be worn with or with out socks and are easy to put on and off.
My son James 7 doesn't wear alot of clothes he wears crocs but no other shoes they hurt! Socks are his enemy. Mornings are bad for him. James is a sensory seeker. James will get so angry but he will say I just got soooo mad I couldn't help it I was just so mad!
Joshua is 6 he has a bad morning EVERY SINGLE MORNING which leads to a bad day..so I have learned momma helps him get his clothes and things must move very slowly for him.We don't rush to brush our teeth although they do get brushed he doesnt eat breakfast so we use bolthouse ( stock up when Kroger has a sale) or some other natural juice drink or make our own.. that is his breakfast. He is one who wears long sleeves and layers on the clothes and wears a toboggan hat in the summer and loves gloves :) He doesn't want to be touched most of the time and is very sensitive to being dirty.
Karissa is 11 and an identical twin. She struggles with touch if anyone talks or makes any noise her and Joshua are having a fit she doesn't like clothes she doesn't like anything including herself. So we just do the best we can to adjust this takes a lot on the part of myself my 15 yr old, 11 yr. old and 9 yr old. but it is something we know we must do. All sensory children are different all though similar like no two are the same:) And as parents we must find what works for our particular out of sync blessings and do all we can to make their lives easier. Give your daughter as much time as you can with out rushing her. It just might help ease her morning!

Feb 01, 2011
Food allergies could also make for rough mornings
by: Anonymous

Sensory kids often have sensitivities to cow dairy and or gluten amongst other things. Eating them can cause many side affects. Moodiness, dark circles under the eyes, stubborn colds, difficulty focusing. Read the book, Is This Your Child by Dr Rapp. Try Epsom salts baths at least a few times a week...Rids sensory kids bodies of toxins that they tend to get for various reasons. Also Avoid at ALL costs, artificial food dyes and high fructose corn syrups. Both in many things. Try to feed whole foods or foods without additives. Artificial anything Very, Very toxic for sensory people young and old.

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