"Oh, He's just all boy"-- No, i think it's SPD

by Amy S
(North Carolina)

So many parents have worries. constantly questioning all the little stuff asking, "is this normal? is that normal?"

And most of the time- it totally is normal.

But i believe in parental intuition too, and have always felt there was something just a little "off" about my son (who is 6). Now I KNOW, with all my being, he has SPD and i need help with finding some resources. I need tools to help him succeed. what do you think?

He if fully functional. not on the autism spectrum, not add/adhd.
He is adorable.
He is very smart.
He is very, very well liked by all his teachers, and i would say, anyone who meets him.
He has a cute little smile, is respectful, and did i mention smart?

However, he also has a side that is becoming more and more painful to watch as the years go on, as i realize he can't control it.

My pediatrician dismissed it and said "oh, he's just all boy. he'll grow up to be a thrill seeker, but it's also a sign of significant intelligence".

I walked away knowing that wasn't fully the answer, but tried to swallow it and believe it.
But i can't ignore it any longer.

He seeks out and craves- i mean CRAVES physical stimulation.
He always seems to be on the floor, rolling, crashing into something.
oh, the crashing and falling...
probably things most "all boy" kids do. Only his is constant, significant, and no amount of intervention, or trying to calm him down can stop him.

At home, he will run from the kitchen to the living room, slam himself against the wall and fall down, laughing at the game he is playing. he will jump from one chair to the other, and then dive roll onto the floor.
a trip to the grocery store is a nightmare. he can't help but run as fast as he can down the aisle, and slide on his knees and then roll around.
sounds like just a wild, undisciplined kid maybe with ADHD right?
no, he is very controlled in other things. respectful and disciplined in all other areas (well, except eating and affection).
And he CAN sit still and focus on something. if we are playing a game and he is focused, his 'crashing' is significantly lessened.
and no, it's not boredom or anxiety. he's got a pretty stress free and active life.
Lets go back a bit farther shall we?

as a younger child, before he could ride a bike, he LOVED taking his big wheel down the driveway, doing a hard right turn so he would

flip it and crash.
oh, and he does NOT, nor has he ever felt pain like a normal kid. his teachers have commented on this as well. i have seen him take falls that would make a grown man cry, and he just gets up and laughs.
he had an earache once, that i knew nothing about... until he started to cry a bit one day. crying? well that's not like my kid, something msut be wrong. He told me his ear hurt a bit, and within an hour, his eardrum ruptured. My god, it was that bad before he even gave me a wimper!
ironically, his coordinator is outstanding, and he's been skateboarding since he was 5- because he loves to fall.

hugs? nothing gentle about them. he will dive into you. he doesn't want gentle rubbing, he wants hard bear hugs.

there's just so much more i could write about. his eating is another issue, that i won't delve deeply into now. do you know any child that puts hot sauce on their food? or that has eaten so much that their stomach is protruding and hard, but he still says he's hungry?

I am at my wits end because i just know this is something his body craves doing, that he clearly does not feel normal sensations, and i feel bad for always telling him to relax, calm his body down. I understand this is how he is, and no longer "yell" at him about it because it is clear to me he just can't stop. I am trying to give him appropriate outlets- but need more constructive help and ideas.

How do i help him regulate this himself?

alot of people dismiss it- he is just "all boy".. active, and physical.
yea, that makes sense when you see him running around on the playground for a short time each day.
i watch him do this day and night...
Each day, it hurts me more and more to watch, as i know deep down, it's just not at a normal level.
people try to make it out to be a good thing "oh, he'll be stunt man someday, or a thrill seeking sky diver"...
yeah, maybe. and that is fine if he chooses it. But he could also develop a whole host of other problems if i don't teach him healthy ways to deal with things too. i don't want to get frustrated and scold him for constantly, and literally "bouncing off the wall"- i want to identify this and help him deal with this internal craving he has in the best way i can....
please help?

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Mar 21, 2012
keep on keeping on mom! (by aj)
by: Anonymous

you are a 'mother warrior'! good for you for sticking your your guns and defending your parenting skills/style.

for those who do not have much experience or understanding of spd (and other challenges for that matter)it is difficult to see past the behaviors which appear to be parenting related-to the root of what is causing the behaviors. many just do not understand (and some times don't want to) that there is a larger picture. one that we as the parents of these incredible children are trying to take into account when we choose parenting styles/disciplinary methods.

it is common for children with spd to struggle with low self esteem. they can also be overly sensitive to discipline and may also have a difficult time with certain disciplinary actions and rejection from peers and others.

i totally agree with what you said about helping these children gain and implement the life tools necessary for them to be successful and happy. we advocate for them until they are able to do it for themselves. what a journey!

keep up the great job!

Mar 07, 2012
to the poster of "children of the day"
by: Amy S (author)

I appreciate your point of view, and have many times wondered if maybe i have not been hard enough on him. or doubted things i did earlier on, wondering if i caused this. as parents we can doubt ourselves. But, i can say with all confidence, that is NOT the case.

I worked for years and years in residential treatment facilities for institutionalized children with severe emotional and behavioral problems. not only did i have to have my degree for this, i took intensive courses in behavior modification and thoroughly understand the absolute NEED for consistency and consequences in a household.

The reason for my original post, is that through the past few years, it is obvious to me this is something he cannot seem to control, no matter how many times we ask him to stop. that's what is sad about it. and i made a conscious decision to "stop" disciplining him for it because i don't want him to be hurt, or feel put down.

I assume you are on the SPD website because this is an area that interests you?

Then i need to ask you to try open your eyes to my story, and see my son (and those on this site or anyone with potential SPD), as having physical issues, not parental issues.

No amount of discipline is going to make a deaf person "listen" to you...
and the more you get upset with them for not "listening"-they can see the anger and frustration in your face... but still don't know what you are saying... and more importantly they don't know how to please you and do what you want.. no matter how they try, they can't make their ears work. heck, they don't even know what their ears are for... so now, they are feeling hopeless pretty fast... as they see your anger, and they dont feel you love them....

suddenly, what if you realize- OH, they can't do this because of xxxx.. .
OK, lets teach them sign lnaguage so we can communicate....

The same is true for my son. no amount of "consequences" is going to make my son stop these things- especially without scarring him in the process for always getting in trouble.
....so i am reaching out to find out ways HE can learn to control himself (when needed- because i love him no matter what, and there are things of beauty in this whackyness of his.. maybe someday he'll be a great athlete, or something that gets him far because of this....)

I'm not here to "keep him in line". i'm here to give him tools to succeed in life.

Feb 18, 2012
children of today
by: Anonymous

Hello, I am a mother of 4 beautiful grown up children and a Day care Mom, for many years.

I feel the children of today are able to tell their parents how to bring them up, which is where the problem all starts.Its not easy to say NO! to your child,but it is very easy to always say Yes.I have been battered by parents to ask me to change my write up on my DAYCARE,about CORRECTING the children.After warning the child three time or more about doing the same naughty thing, that they will get spoken to and a spank will be admitted to them, in the bathroom.
I do this with lots of love in my heart as its for the childs health and not for me and it gets received well and we always have a good relation ship. Parents were given to children, because CHILDREN dont always know everything, LOVE your children thats what counts, always be a Mom and a Dad, they choose their friends you dont have to be a friend ...they only children which need love and ATTENTION !!

Jan 06, 2012
by: Anonymous

a few other practical things that we have implemented which have helped my son are at least 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise. swimming, scooter riding, the trampoline has been a live saver and i love it because you can make up and invent all kinds of games to plan on the trampoline with balls, balloons, pillows, etc.

i have also made a weighted vest, a lap pad for car rides and table time for eating/homework and a weighted stuffed snake to go on his neck which have all helped in different aspects with different things. if you haven't tried a vest, i might recommend starting with that.

have you read/watched anything by temple grandin? www.templegrandin.com if you haven't, she's fascinating. she has aspergers which means she also has some sensory processing issues (not all kids with spd have austim though, just for the record). anyway, she talks about some of her struggles and about how she loved to be wrapped in a piece of scrap carpet when she was a child because it calmed her and gave her the compression she needed.

and so in relation to this idea, we have done some compression exercises with our son and also heavy lifting with weights and jobs that involve things that are heavy.

there are many things to try and there are things that work and things that don't work. it's tough to find the balance some times, and what works isn't always a constant. but you're on the right path. keep advocating for him. hang in there. you'll figure it out and so will he if you help him and believe in him and build on his strengths.

bless your way.

Jan 06, 2012
by: Anonymous

amen on the comment about parental intuition! :)

i think many of us on this journey and others like it have heard time and time again people say things with the best of intentions, trying to help ease our concerns, but (we as the parent) knowing full well, there really was/is more to it.

i too have a son (now 6) who is a seeker. he shows a few other signs of proprioceptive dysfunction (for lack of a better word, although i don't view it this way) as well, he is under responsive to much of the stimuli in his environment. he's a MOVER, we often joke that he hit this world running and hasn't looked back!

he is always crashing, jumping, touching, sliding, hugging, rough housing, breaking things, and playing 'too hard' with his little brother, etc. he fidgets a lot and can struggle at times to sit still. but he too is very bright, coordinated, gregarious and happy, he is well liked by his peers and teachers and he is a determined child as well. not a bad thing. :)

we have benefited from working with an occupational therapist (ot) on and off for the last three years. it has helped a great deal. you may want to go that route (for a shorter amount of time?) to get some resources & intervention ideas. the ot can be a wealth of knowledge and a great sounding board for your concerns.

i 100% agree with you about trying to help them learn to manage their behaviors and find outlets, instead of stifling their energy and constantly bombarding them with phrases that can have an affect on their self esteem.

here are a few things off the top of my head (there are MANY) that we have come across in our time working with an ot. maybe something here can help or spark even some original ideas.


sensational kids
growing an in sync child (lots of good ideas for activities/outlets)
raising a sensory smart child


www.alertprogram.com (or also referred to as the How Does Your Engine Run program)

i like several the ideas contained in this program and some of the positive verbage it uses to help children understand their bodies, be able to communicate that and learn how to regulate better.

sensorysmartparent.wordpress.com (this website has some ideas on it about how to deal with certain issues relating to spd.

and one more website i have found helpful is called dailystrength.com (it's a website that people from all over join, it's free with an email address sign up and you can write in about all types of issues. there is a section for sensory integration issues that parents can post on and exchange ideas and find helps. might be worth your time to post on that site too?)

to be continued... it's telling me i'm out of space.

Jan 01, 2012
Have you tried these ideas?
by: Sarah

Hey there!

My son is almost 12 and we've finally just had a therapist who "put the pieces together" for us to diagnose his SPD. His is a bit more broad (and often can be contradictory) so it took a lot of time to figure out. But he does have sensory seeking tendencies and he also "bounces off the walls" literally (especially after containing himself at school all day), rocks on his back like a turtle. For us, and I imagine everyone with SPD kids, its been a lot of trial and error to find things that help, so I thought I'd throw a few ideas for you that you may try if you haven't already.

Im ALL for the trampoline...that helps a LOT with my son. He can safely jump and bounce and crash to his hearts delight (with the net secure around the trampoline), then comes in much more relaxed.
My son also likes sitting and bouncing (more gently) on an exercise ball while watching tv or things like that.

Kid Sandwiches and bear hugs. My son LOVES to be "squished" or hugged tightly. On a bed or the floor, lay a pillow or sofa cushion on top of him (to distribute weight), then lay across him. As I understand it, the compression actually releases chemicals naturally that help him calm down. Weighted blankets work on the same principle, but we have not been able to get one yet.

Tight clothes/weighted blanket. Have you tried tight fitting "underarmor" type shirts? They are slippery feeling (my son also prefers this) but gently squeeze them all the way around. Helps them feel as if they are not "flying apart", and the gentle pressure is comforting.

Tickles. If he enjoys that kind of touch, a good tickle session is very sensory stimulating and may help without all the crashing around. My son regularly requests tickles when he needs the extra stimulation.

Each kid is different of course, but if you haven't tried these, maybe it can be of help to you. Best wishes!

Dec 21, 2011
Thank you!
by: Amy

MJ- Thank you! wow, they sound so similar! i am also getting my guy a trampoline for christmas! only i'm getting a small one- i don't want the liability of a big one if friends come over!

I worry too, about always telling him to stop.
it must be so hard for him... i have seen his self esteem drop in the last year, and i think it has a bit to do with this. i mean, how hard can it be to feel like mommy and daddy are always correcting you, and you just can't stop it? that's why i'm convinced its SPD- he just cant stop the urge.

My son too, is shockingly coordinated- so it's almost a mystery because it's not like he's not "aware" of his body and where he is in relation to things. quite the opposite- he can do thing that are just not normal for a kid his age. he literally just took off riding his bike with no help from me or his dad... and, he can hit a baseball, free hand pitch, almost every time since he was 3! the hand eye coordination is remarkable.
but....it doesn't change the fact that he is still very, very sensory seeking.

I am trying some of the sensory diet, and that will work when i have him down in the play room. but what about times when we go to the grocery store? or school, or anywhere else! that's what i need to teach him- there are times when it's OK, and times when it's not! i considered having him wear ankle weights or a weighted vest, but my instinct says that won't do it. he wants the "crashing" and "smashing"! have you tried anything like that? maybe i shouldn't be so quick to dismiss them.

My other thought was to go to someone who knows meditation/relaxation techniques and have him be taught to use those. maybe some deep breathing can help him get the nervous system in check... maybe he can learn some of his own deep pressure points or something? have you tried anything like that?
ha, sounds silly, but at this point, i don't want him to change who he is, I just want him to know how to deal with the urges when needed? Clearly there are advantages to some of his abilities and "quirks", but i also want him to be able to sit on the carpet at school during story time, and not feel the intense need to have to roll on it and then bounce on his knees....
I want him to enjoy tender snuggling with me, and not feel like it's only pleasurable when you tackle someone.. ha ha.

thank you so much for your email! i will definitely email you!

Dec 21, 2011
similar to my son
by: mj

hi, i have an almost 6 yr old that sounds very similar - i understand your frustration!! bouncing off the walls...i've been saying this for years now. the body slamming into me, climbing all over me! im using the same words,"calm your body down." we have been to OT for a year - he is so smart and so coordinated and basically so good at everything that they didn't know what to do with him! they agreed he was sensory seeking but couldn't really help - they told me to put him on a sensory diet for proprioception, joint compressions and body messaging - we are still in the same place 2 years later - so not sure that has helped...but he isn't worse?

i worry about the constant disciplining my son - what is it like for a small child to constantly hear "stop"

he is getting an indoor (8ft) trampoline for xmas...that's how disparate i am! i'm sending my direct email 'mjbarre@gmail.com' maybe we can connect if one of us finds helpful things?!

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