SPD Outside Of Auditory, Visual, And Olfactory Processing

by Vicky
(Clearwater FL)

Why does SPD cause them to be unable to comfort themselves in sleep or anxiety? My daughter cannot sleep by herself unless exhausted and cannot put herself back to sleep. I understand the other parts of SPD as I call it, and my daughter does not have much of the vestibular/proprioception problem. Or at least I don"t think she does. She is sometimes clumsy but mostly has issues with hypersensitivity to touch, light, sound, smell and definitely anxiety issues. Also, why do they not want to participate with the class during, for example, a field trip? We are 1 1/2 years into this and I am still confused. This site definitely helps though.

The SPD Help Line Answers...


Oh dear, I know, this may be the most confusing and difficult part of SPD with our kids! This invisible Interoceptive sense. Maybe we can't see it, but we sure see the results of it. The interoceptive sense is not talked about as much, but it's presence rears it's ugly head, when you see your daughter can't regulate her sense of alertness (she is tired and speeds up instead of slowing down).

The interoceptive sense gives you feedback from your internal organs and internal sensations. This sense can send mixed messages into the brain, and the brain then sends out mixed messages throughout the body. Since you already see this issue with her not being able to regulate/modulate her level of alertness, this could be affecting her in different ways, that you had not realized were part of SPD.

These irregular sleep patterns are common with our kids, and can include difficulty falling asleep. They can't tell when they are tired, they may wake up during the night, sometimes over and over again. And they don't have a clue what to do to help themselves. They don't even realize what is happening or why they can't fall or stay asleep. It's an unconscious act their own brains and bodies are doing to them.

They may not feel hunger appropriately. They can feel like they are starving 10 minutes after they eat. Or feel full after eating a few bites, or not feel hunger pangs at all. They may complain of feeling too hot, or cold when every one around them is comfortable. As a result some of our kids over or under dress for the weather and this can become a safety issue. They may constantly feel they have to use the bathroom, and conversely, they may not feel the sensation they have to go at all. And suddenly wet or soil themselves. And any of these can be inconsistent, working fine now, but not later.

They may behave like little hypochondriacs, complaining loudly and often about every bump, or bodily sensation, because it IS magnified to them, truly. Heart rate, respiration, sleep/wake cycles, bowel & bladder, hunger and thirst. These are the most noted and commented on issues with the interoceptive sense. There is also discussion about stool irregularities, that burn the skin on contact, but research has not confirmed what many parents talk about and children are experiencing, in that regard. This may also explain why she has an aversion to Field Trips and other activities that completely overwhelm her sensitivities. She may not be able to modulate the sensations, her anxiety, or her own level of alertness and feel just too stimulated and not have a clue what to do about it. As she gets bettrer, this should lessen in severity, and you'll see that, when it happens and she is ready and asking to participate more.

Now, the good news? With the help of you and your therapist this can and will get better! Talk to your therapist about strategies to use at home to calm her, she will need your help in the beginning. Is a bath calming to her? Brushing, joint compression and deep pressure? Rocking in your lap? As her Mom, you probably already instinctively know ways that you have found calming to your daughter. Use them before bedtime to help her fall asleep. Is there certain music that settles her? Reading her a book? Understanding that she can't help it, and needs you to help her right now, will make a tremendous difference.

Next, consider tackling this issue head on, and ask your therapist which programs s/he may already have for regulation. One of our favorites is The ALERT Program. Best thing on the market right now, for helping to teach our SPD kids how to figure out what is calming and alerting to them, and what they can do about it. In any circumstance they find themselves in. Listening Therapy through Vital Sounds is another one that directly deals with this and other SPD issues. Interactive Metronome may also be beneficial. All of these programs I have done with my own severe SPD son, who did show great improvement in these issues and he had them all. Any or all of these may help your daughter to different degrees. If the therapist doesn't have or isn't a provider for any of these three? You can purchase and do The Alert Program yourself at home. You would need to continue the work at home if s/he had the program anyway.

There are books that would help you understand regulation (interoceptive) issues also, in both Michele Mitchell's store ( www.sensoryprocessingdisorders.com ) and in my SHARE Shoppes, at www.spdparentshare.com.

Good luck, and I hope this helps you understand your daughter a little bit more. : )

Michelle Morris
Administrator, SPD International

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Feb 08, 2011
Thank you
by: Stephanie

Thank you for asking and answering this! My daughter really seems to have a hard time regulating her sense of alertness. Her "motor" runs too high at night when time to go to bed and too low in the morning, very difficult to get her up, even after a full night sleep.

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