Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sensory Processing Awareness Month

October is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Awareness Month!! As a former teacher of kids with sensory processing challenges and now as the Mama of a sweet girl with SPD, I know this disorder intimately! 

Sensory Processing Disorder is a not-well-understood disorder. There is not much research in the field, especially not SPD without Autism. It's not something many people know much about - this makes it hard for people to be sensitive to those of us raising these kids. These kiddos are not being overly-needy, they can't just "get over it", and while they will learn to cope with their sensory systems, it isn't just something they can be forced to do. We aren't being over-protective parents (well, maybe sometimes we are, but still) - these kiddos sometimes need their world to be adapted so that they can function in it. 

Many children are not diagnosed with SPD until they reach school-age; we were blessed that (because of my teaching experience and Meghan's eating difficulties that got us into specialists at a young age) Meghan was diagnosed at only a few months old. These undiagnosed children are often thought to have ADHD, be bratty, be aggressive, etc. In reality they are just in need of more or less sensory input than a typical child. As with many disorders, the sooner children receive intervention, the better their results - early intervention works!! 

Interventions for kiddos with SPD are generally fairly simple to implement - however, it's a tricky process of figuring out which sensory systems your kiddo need more or less stimuli in. After you know which systems need input or less input, you still have to determine which interventions are beneficial to the kid. And then they grow physically which completely changes it all. It's not a hopeless situation at all, but please know, it's hard!! 

There are not many resources for parents of kids with SPD. Many doctors do not know about SPD and will miss it in a child. The general public does not understand SPD and when parents tell people about their child they are often met with 1) comparisons to indicate that what's going on with your kid is no big deal and you're just making a mountain out of a mole hill, 2) the implication that you are over-reacting and that "x" change in your parenting could fix the problem, or 3) they knew someone with SPD and it really wasn't as big of a deal as you are making it sound. 

So, since it's SPD Awareness Month this month I'm going to talk SPD! I'm telling our story. I'm telling about how my daughter struggled to eat as an infant partially because of her Sensory Processing Disorder. I'm telling that SPD is a big deal. I'm sharing some of the online resources that I think are good - that I have shared with others in the past. I hope that by sharing these things, I can be a help and hope to other parents with one of these awesome kiddos whose sensory systems are so unique!! 

(Note: I am not a doctor. I am not an OT. I am a former teacher of kiddos with Autism and other sensory processing & social skill delays. I was so fortunate to have worked with some AWESOME sensory integrating OT's in my career. I am the Mama of a sweet, sweet girl who was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder prior to her first birthday. I am not an qualified expert but I do live in this world. This is my understanding.)

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