SPD vs. PTSD Can I still blame my parents if I have SPD?

by Elizabeth

My son was diagnosed this year with SPD. He is sensory seeking for the most part, but gets overwhelmed with too much sensory information. Feeling sad for your child is hard and I have gotten him help. But it is bringing up some major issues for me.

First, I have been weird/the freak/too sensitive/etc. etc. my whole life (I am 44). Since his diagnosis, I have come to believe that he likely gets this from me because I have so many of the things listed on this checklist it isn't funny. I also have fibromyalgia and an inflammatory arthritis (AS) and ALL of my triggers to have a flare up are, in fact, sensory overload issues.

But the real issue is that I have explained away all of my oddities as being related to the abuse I suffered as a child. sitting in a hot tub burning myself? blamed my abuse. lots of food issues? blamed my abuse. issues with touching, especially touching my neck/underarms/anything that resembles a tickle? blamed my abuse. Weird rituals to get myself to sleep, my inability to wear pjs, putting magic powder on my neck, etc. all rationalized as due to abuse. My inability to handle people in social situations, social awkwardness, my inability to process what people are saying or saying the wrong word when I'm under stress? all blamed on that. You get it, the list goes on. I "fought" my fears and phobias as a way to fight back against the abusers winning. I still have a lot of them, but many I have learned to manage. 20+ years of therapy have helped me find work arounds to many of the issues.

So, finding out that my son (who is not abused) has so many of these issues (some the same, but most are his own variations of course) has thrown all of these years of rationalizing and fighting against them into question. How can I blame my parents for all of the damage they inflicted on me if I was born with so much of this damage?

I have a PhD, so I know that there is no excuse for abuse and I can see how perhaps the abuse made these issues worse for me or prevented me from finding healthy ways to work with these issues because I didn't have loving and patient parents (which I can see helps my son tremendously!!!). I also know that my son feels loved which I never felt, so I am sure that is one thing they are still responsible for. But I'm feeling weird feelings of guilt for the 20 years I've thought so poorly of my parents. I understood a lot if it (as I was their first), but I never understood why I spent my entire childhood trying to be good and perfect for them and I was never good enough, but my siblings (I have 4 of them) were. I never understood why 1. their abuse was less (except maybe because I was first) and 2. why they were not as damaged as me from the abuse they did receive. I always knew I was more sensitive to everything and that is how I explained it to myself and others, but now I feel guilty that somehow my sensitivity issues are really the culprit. If I have SPD and I believe I do, then the punishments were harder on me because I am super sensitive (physically and emotionally). But maybe because I was so difficult to deal with and my religious parents definitely believed (and still do believe) that I was willfully making their lives harder, the SPD caused me to be abused more.

I guess it is hard for me to formulate the question here, but how do I reconcile my beliefs all of these years that my freakishness was due to my abuse/trauma and perhaps I would have been this way anyways? I guess I am hoping that perhaps the abuse made the SPD worse too because I dont' want this life for my son. I have him in therapy, in a very expensive preschool that is helping him, and in many activities meant to help proprioception and vestibular and fine motor skills and I really want to believe that these things and my love and patience (even when he is smashing into me and head butting me while I don't like anything that is hard or too physical near me or that is a surprise) will actually make a difference in his life.

I thought I had resolved my family issues and let it go as I have achieved so much, but this is bringing it all up again. My son's OT suggested parenting caused some of the SPD issues which really upset me because this is my second child (I waited 20 years between my two children) and I've done/tried to do everything right by this child. I stayed home with him for 9 months, I breastfed, I give him organic non processed foods, he has all the advantages I couldn't give my daughter 20 years ago. The only thing he has that she didn't was a stupid dad who loves him, but isn't reliable as a dad (she had no father). I feel like it is autism 20 years ago when they blamed the moms. But I blamed my parents for these very things. I'm just feeling confused and a little overwhelmed by the enormous responsibility for getting my son the help he needs and processing my own issues. UGH! I have a good therapist, but she doesn't know anything about adults with SPD, just adolescents. I was wondering if anyone else has had to deal with these issues as you discover this diagnosis as an adult?

Comments for SPD vs. PTSD Can I still blame my parents if I have SPD?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 01, 2016
A PhD?
by: Anonymous

If you have a PhD, I'm the Queen of France. Someone with a PhD would have more insight than to "blame my parents"; they would understand (with all that education) that playing the blame game is in essence defeating oneself & any forward movement. They would also not use 'anyways' as a word at any point in time.

Oct 27, 2015
Similar Story
by: Anonymous C

I'm a 25 year old undergraduate who has been dealing with abusive and neglectful parents my whole life. Within these last 6 months, I have finally been free of them, although the past 2-3 years of my life have been the hardest to get through. I've seen two therapists and I have social anxiety (since I can remember), depression (most recently, has been these past two years up until present day), and ptsd (signs and symptoms of this has been gradually developing since middle school years). I have also known to have been overly sensitive both emotionally and physically according to my family and I also believe it, but it has never felt like I was overreacting.

I don't think you or I were very good matches for our parents. But at the same time, I really don't think they should have been allowed to have any children. Even with the most perfect child, my parents still would have been abusive and neglectful. Discovering SPD does not take away the wrongness of what they have done. It does not give them any kind of excuse or free pass that one day when you were extra difficult so you deserved to be made fun of, hit, or threatened. But discovering SPD may bring some understanding to past events and yourself as a child. Just because you can understand how a parent might be led into abusing their own child (maybe from an abusive past, hard financial times, or through having a child with unique needs) does not ever give that parent the right to abuse that child.

There are plenty of other parents out in the world who go through hard times, have faced abuse themselves, and have children with excessive needs who do not abuse or neglect their child. I do hope that you and I both can find forgiveness for our own well being. This is something that I have been trying to work on, but I have a long ways to go. And I hope that I have helped to answer your question! Much love!

Jul 29, 2012
by: Mary


Your posting had hit it close to home for me! I had also been sexually abused by a neighbor on top of "absent" parents and a Dad that would have inappropriate cooments for me! I'm trying to do the best for my son, while I'm still working on the same issues he is. Fortunately, unlike my parents, he does have a very patient father but me (his Mom) one hand gets it, and the next moment I just can't do it!!
I hope you get the help you need and I am trying to figure out where I need to get my help to be a better parent for my son!

Dec 30, 2011
by: Anonymous

Hello Elizabeth, I am sorry for your problems. But I think that your parents do not have a fault, maybe they did not understand your problem and we have considered a spoiled child, but this still happens when you have no knowledge of certain disorders.'s True understanding is positive. I believe that adults diagnosed with ASD or other, can be made by a psychiatrist. By exposing all when you wrote in your post. Best wishes for your life.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Adult SPD .