Is it Sensory? Caused by food allergies? Behavioral? Please advise.

a few months back i was on this site daily...then got away from it...mainly because i struggle MAJORLY between believing what is sensory and behavioral (don’t we all ;o)

i have 2 toddlers 11 months apart, and i have no idea where to go...i’ve read it and tried it all and i am exhausted and frustrated and over researched.

3yo DD
-aggressive (more impulse control issues i think)


-looooooooooooves to get a reaction

-very antagonistic

-very difficult to discipline

-kind of the brooder

-super sensitive to loud lights and sounds


-very light sleeper, never sleeps in car, sleeps TERRIBLY anywhere but home.

-loves loves swinging

-no independant play...MUST be on me, held by me, sitting next to me AT ALL TIMES.

-VERY VERY observative and active, i couldn’t keep track of all of the trouble she got into in a day (LITERALLY. if she isn't the room with me she IS in trouble, FOR SURE).

-We only do timeout...but i am consistent and say ‘if you continue doing X then Y will happen’...and she tests me, so we go through a string of consequences on a daily basis...and the next day it is the same thing. they know i will follow through and they don’t care...especially 3yo.

-VERY clingy. refuses to ride in a cart at the store, and hasn’t for at least a year(behavioral? she fearful of the car and feels insecure?...or overwhelmed by lights/sounds of store???).

-hates swinging (which made me wonder if the cart is part of her feeling insecure too).

-sensitive to lights, often says ‘too loud’ to music when in the car.

-serious sleep issues. VERY light sleeper. would scream scream scream EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. you laid her down for sleep...and not just for 5 minutes, she just screams for 20ish minutes. i have come to think that is her way of self soothing-when on a road trip this summer she did fall asleep twice in the car and she screamed for 15 min. both times before dozing off. very light sleeper, restless sleeper (wild hair when she wakes up) never sleeps in car, sleeps TERRIBLY anywhere but home.

-no independant play...MUST be on me, held by me, sitting next to me AT ALL TIMES.

-she has excessive tantrums. this isn’t a ‘leave her cry it out’ sort of thing...because TRUST ME, i have. the girl can go an hour EASY. and my nerves can’t take it. a frequent example is her waking from nap and standing in her bed or in her doorway SCREEEEEEAMING “i want uuuuup” for me to walk upstairs and carry her down. she can walk, she just wants me to carry her. so i calmly say ‘come on down!’...and she will scream bloody murder for 30+ minutes...even if i sit on the landing to meet her halfway and say ‘come here’, she won’t.

-i can NOT set her down in a store or in public, she must be held. even at a park, she won’t let me set he down...i held her for 45 min, she got down for maybe 5 then wanted to be held again.

-we go to the bounce house places and all other kids go running around and mine are clinging to me like their lives depend on it. even at low key places like the

apple orchard this summer we took my kids and the girls would NOT allow me to put them down.

-my 2yo’s tantrums are excessive. i have pretty much broken them down to being related to bed/sleep and me holding her or not holding her.

When i thought this was all sensory..this is what i have done:
Plan A. OT for 3yo .... nothing
Plan B. behavioral therapy....helpful tips but not the golden ticket
Plan C. theraplay...omg, don’t get me started. NOT an option.
Plan D. allergy testing for both girls (2yo has ‘allergy lines under eyes)...NOTHING
Plan E. sleep study for 2yo...but canceled bc of research into plan F.
Plan F. food elimination (causes both behavioral, sleep, sensory and anxiety problems)

So.... i started looking more seeing so so so much about diet and we started the feingold program...removing all artificial colors/flavors and preservatives. nearly 6 weeks into that. have noticed some changes in 3yo. much more independent play, i think her sleep is better and she is much more loving toward my husband....likes to sit with him and is more affectionate.

for about 2 1/2 weeks i saw MAJOR changes in 2yo. NO SCREAMING when i laid her down. her naps went from 1 1/2 - 3 hours! both girls slept better and it was like they were catching up on the sleep they had been missing. they were playing independently, the 3yo was getting into much much less trouble.

then the antagonizing and defiance started back in with my 3yo....the sleep issues are back with the 2yo....they are having such a hard time going to sleep, VERY often staying awake (in their separate rooms) until after 10pm. sometimes til 11:30!!!!!
they nap at 12:30...wake up around 3 (by the time they actually sleep) and skipping naps is agony on us all...and then bed around 8. the excessive tantrums are still around, depending on the day sometimes 1, sometimes 2 or 3. the 2yo clinginess is around more (flipping out if i am on the phone and INSISTING ON BEING HELD...whereas for those few weeks she was not bothered by me, to the point where people i was on the phone with noticed the quiet....bc typically both girls would chase me through the house SCREAMING!).

so now i am nearing the end of the ‘detox’ phase of the food program, i wont go back to the ‘old eating’ habits, but we are quite limited now. i just don’t know whether to keep investigating whether foods are contributing to these issues. OOOR do I go BACK to spd, because so much of their issues are found here...and there is the ADHD/ODD stuff. I just don’t know where to turn. I am certainly not feeling like i have this figured out...i have lots of friends with kids and i know that my stresses are more than the ‘average’ kids are more extreme, more challenging than those that i know. i don’t really want to start up OT again...mainly bc i was never convinced. and see what OT involves when you are not fully committed to the ‘diagnosis’ (disclaimer: I BELIEVE in what OT does and the amazing changes it has made for many many families, and I fully believe in SPD...I just don’t know if it is SPD in my situation).

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