Tactile proprioceptive defensiveness? Or something else?

by Kim
(Chicago, IL USA)

My son has SPD (2 and 9mo)and has a lot of "hand issues". It started with holding cylinder-like objects, a plastic french-fry to be specific, in one hand. Then it turned into holding objects like this in both hands, then the objects had to be the exact same, then similar (like same color), then less similar (like a horse and a cow). Then the object obsessions wore off and he would just hold his hands in fists all the time (did this during the object obsession period as well...from about 18 mo to 31 mo). And now at 33 months he is always keeping his hands in odd positions--fingers twisted, holding out pointer finger or middle finger only, and of course clenching fists. Whatever the position, his hands always have to match.


And lastly, the newest hand behavior is that he will often keep one hand to his ribs while doing some task with the other hand--playing, eating, running, etc. And the position he holds the hand in is fingers extended flat but with thumb touching the fingers (like if you had your hand inside a puppet). He has some fine and gross motor delays, along with motor planning difficulties and is in OT 2x/week.

She believes, and I agree, that much of what he does with his hands is proprioceptive defensiveness. But there are also many things that just can't be explained by this theory. For example I have a short video clip (for upcoming neuro appt) where he is holding his left hand into his body while trying to kick a ball from a kneeling position/due to motor planning probs). He falls over and quickly catches himself with the "protected" hand and THEN immediately places that hand into a nearby wipes pack (crinkly, sticky label, and cold).

We both feel a little perplexed by it--is it strictly SPD, strictly OCD, a combination of both? OR, my most recent theory, simply a delay in right brain/left brain coordination? He has great difficulty using both hands together for one goal (holding paper with one hand and cutting with the other, can't jump, and also has no idea how to pedal and also never operated a push toy with his feet).

We're seeing a pediatric neuro next week so hopefully I can finally get some answers. It really impacts him in that he is quite delayed with fine motor things like using a fork, dressing/undressing, and holding crayons/pencils/markers, etc. He refuses to color and most meals are tear-filled b/c he can't figure out his utencils. Of course we help him, but it's just always such a big mess.

Any insight about this would be appreciated. I figure someone out there must be familiar?!!!

Comments for Tactile proprioceptive defensiveness? Or something else?

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Oct 29, 2009
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Utensils
by: Ethan's Mom

You sound to be a wonderful caring parent who is determined to help her child. I was just thinking about the Utensils and I recall seeing a nifty Universal Cuff for utensils and a Hole-In-One spoon/fork in my therapy resource products. There are several pages devoted just for hands and meal time. The web site is THERAPRODUCTS.COM. Look under Daily Living section for the items. (Ask for a catalog to be mailed to you. It's outstanding!) Let me know if you find this useful. Best wishes.

Oct 28, 2009
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Thanks
by: Anonymous

Very good suggestions--thank you! I do prepare most meals to be "finger food" friendly. And when I say it's always a "mess" I just mean an emotional mess. I am careful not to make him feel bad or that he is failing in some way. I have offered tooth-picks, steel fork, thick plastic toddler-style fork, and a very small "baby fork" (an antique from my grandmother). I have not tried plastic disposable utensils though, so I will do so. Most meals go this way: he starts out trying (bless his heart he tries so hard), starts to cry and says "it's not working!", I help him by holding his hand and stabbing the piece of food, this works okay for a little while and then he ends up eating the rest with his fingers.

I DO NOT make him feel bad about this. In fact I encourage him to eat however he wants to as long as he always tries the fork first. I tell him to practice his fork first.

We suspect possible Asperger Syndrome as well---just an fyi for anyone else who might read and respond. I have just never heard of another child having such hand issues and I can't believe I'm alone with this. It won't be the first time we've been in the "1 percent" category though--he was born 2 months early due to placental abruption.

Thank you again for reading my post and for your suggestions.

Oct 28, 2009
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Utensils
by: Ethan's mom

Okay....wow. My son did not like to color at all. Still doesn't. (Age 6) So don't push it. Water painting is something you can try. Take a paint brush and a bowl of water and have the child paint the side walk.

Meal Time: Would you consider serving only finger foods for awhile or try plastic or rubber serving ware? Possibly your child does not like the feel of steel? Would massaging your childs hand before using utensils assist? Or warm the hands under water before eating? Is her/his chair comfortable? Is it plastic? Try placing a warm towel under her bum or soft easy to clean pillow.

Hands: My son still waves his hands up and down when he is excited. He is slowly breaking the habit when it is brought to his attention. Again, try massaging your childs hands gently. Possibly the stretching of the muscle will help relieve some growing pains. Do it regularly..at least twice a day. Who knows it may be all that is needed. Good luck.

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