Long stay in NICU..possible SPD link?

by Concerned Mommy
(Lexington, Ky)

My son is now 2 yrs old. He was premature, born at just 33 weeks. He spent 57 days in the NICU due to Apnea of Prematurity . He was also born with clubfeet, which is thought to be isolated with no other causes or issues. He seemed to be on track until around a year. He has always done quirky things but his pediatrician wasn't too concerned because he seemed to be hitting milestones appropriately.

Well, his walking is delayed partly because of his clubfeet...he would make progress and would have to have surgery or go into casting. It's almost like he lacks confidence..he will walk with a walker or holding my hand but once he's prompted to go alone, he drops to his knees. He also has low muscle tone and W sits....which is common with clubfeet.

He has delayed speech. He will say some things such as kitty, doggy, puppy, cookie, pets names, hi kitty, hi doggy, hi Taco (dog), hi Sox (cat), bite-bite, bath,no, no-no-no, drive, Vroom ...for example, but grunts to communicate his wants. He will repeat anything when prompted to. He had tubes put in last July at around 18 months, he completely failed his hearing test prior but has normal hearing now.

He works with a speech therapist and is making slow progress.

The quirky things I mentioned are rocking to fall asleep, turning his head and doing a sideways glance.... both a voluntary. He does this because he wants to, almost to self soothe. I can get his attention and he will stop easily.

He does hand flap but not excessively...usually only when he's eating or has a sippy cup. Therapist says to compensate is why he does this.

He loves to spin wheels or anything he can. He seems to have grown out of this a bit though. He will play with toys appropriately though too.

My first concern was autism...but 2 pediatricians, 2 therapists and a psychologist all say he's not autistic. He's affectionate, social etc.

So I'm curious, could SPD be linked to prematurity and lengthy NICU stay? Could it be responsible for my son's delays and quirky habits?

Thank you so much!

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May 04, 2011
by: Anonymous

ps- and yes it is certainly possible that premature birth can in fact be related to sensory integration issues and developmental delays. (could also not be) but if you read about it at all or are experienced in it, it's related to neurology and if a child is born prematurely, the neurological system likely isn't all the way developed.

May 04, 2011
by: AJ

have you consulted an occupational therapist about your concerns other than the speech delay?

from my experience with a son with spd, he has some of these same quirks. at a young age i too questioned whether he was on the autism spectrum but further research and education on the topic/symptoms just did not fit, especially the social realm. i finally got him to an ot who explained to me that autism and spd can look a lot a like because of the neurological factor involved. i would recommend seeking out an ot in your area and ask some initial questions. we have benefited greatly from seeing an ot.

good luck.

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