How Three Moms Explain SPD To Their Children
When my daughter was just turning 7 she had been going to occupational therapy for a couple of weeks.
We just told her at the time that she was going to play. Well she’s my child of
‘1000’ questions and that explanation didn’t last long. We sat down and I told
her that we had just found out why she was feeling so mad and sad all of the
time. That she had something called Sensory Processing Disorder. This was
followed by a confused look of course.
My 7 year old daughter is sensory-defensive so I told her that her body is fine
and her brain is fine--they just don't talk well together. So when someone
brushes against her, her body sends the message that she has been hit so her
brain tells her to be angry or hurt. I told her that brushing, jumping,
swinging, etc helps her body to talk to her brain better.
I read the book called "The Goodenoughs Get in Sync: 5 Family Members Overcome their Special Sensory Issues
" to her and my 3 year old. It's a story about a whole family that has SPD. Each person in the family has a different form. I had
to improvise on some of the technical stuff but the story is good. As I read,
I would point out similarities between them and some of the characters. I think
it helped her to see that others go through this too. We also talked about our
own little issues with things that bothered us and what we do to make it better.
Her 3 year sister was too young to understand everything so I just said, "Ella loves you but she doesn't want hugs today so throw her a hug instead".
We had the whole family join in with some of the sensory diet activities,
everybody jumps or swings, etc, that way she didn’t feel singled out. My two
take turns jumping all the time : )
Most specialists and researchers agree that
kids benefit from
self-understanding. Thankfully, there are more and more books written for kids
that help them understand the range of learning and sensory differences. E.g.,
The Joey Pig Swallows the Key series is about a boy with ADHD.
Have you heard of the book "The Goodenoughs Get in Sync: 5 Family Members Overcome their Special Sensory Issues
" It's by Carol Stock
Kranowitz and is a fictionalized account from a "family" about each of their
sensory issues and how they cope. It's educational as well as fun to read!
I haven't told my son in the form of a meeting or anything. When
motorcycles and covers his hears, I have told him, "Wow, your ears hear better
than other people. Maybe you could cover them with your hands when noises are
He will hear things that I don't and I will comment, "Wow, what else do you
hear. You got some great hearing there, tell me what else you hear."
When we were going through all the testing this year, I told him, "We want to
see how well your ears are working" ;or his eyes or whatever else he was being
tested for. After his hearing test, I said, "Yup the doctor said that God
made your ears to hear things better than the average bear!" (he loves pooh).
I often tell him lately, "The doctors told me that you are smarter than the
average bear"; because I was worried about his self esteem. He knows that people
can write and draw better than he can. He can spell words but has big fine motor
issues. He gets frustrated that he can't make his hands write the way he wants
to. I think that by telling him that he is smarter he can understand why he
KNOWS things but can't do them. It seems to work for now.
I don't tell him he has problems, I just say, "Keep working on it. Keep
You'll get it... we all have to learn to write by practicing".
I don't want him to see himself as disabled. I want him to build on his
strengths and find ways to overcome the obstacles that he faces. He can't write,
but he can type his name on the computer and navigate through the internet to
put on his Barney games.
I tell him that we go to the OT because she has cool swings.
When I cut his hair and he is screaming ballistically, I acknowledge that his
hair is sharp. I tell him, I know that it hurts him but I have to cut it
will hurt his eyes. Same with his nails. Giving him brushings first and a
sensory pillow to hold helps somewhat.
I don't make him ride any rides that make him uncomfortable. We went to the
amusement park and he asked, "Are you mad at me for not riding the motorcycles?"
I said, "no. you don't have to ride them if you don't want. We come here for you
to have fun. If it isn't fun, don't do it."
I guess if he asks me I would still find a way to tell him that he was created
the way he is in a positive way. I mean honestly, there are things that he can
do that "normal" children can't. You should see him on the gym rings and
swings. He is incredible! He pulls himself upside down so his feet are
to the ceiling and spins.... and spins... and spins... and spins.
It is my opinion that a child's perception of himself is what will help him
overcome the obstacles that he has. We are all given obstacles, some are
given the sensory obstacles. There are worse things and less difficult things.
see it as my job to teach him to look at his world as the glass that is half
full and not half empty.
You may see my son in the Olympics some day or the local circus... so who am I
decide that this is an obstacle that he can't overcome or shouldn't incorporate
into his life?
Another Mom describes how she explained SPD to her Child
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