“Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is the inability to use information received through the senses in order to function smoothly in daily life. SPD is not one specific disorder, as blindness or deafness is, but rather an umbrella term to cover a variety of neurological disabilities.” -The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.-
From the time my son was an infant, I noticed a difference in him from his older brother. He always wanted held, rocked, or swaddled (sometimes all at once). If he didn’t get those things, he’d scream and become restless. As a young mom, I thought it was me. I thought maybe something was wrong with my oldest because he was so easy. I thought for sure I was going insane.
As a toddler, he became even more exhausting. At least as an infant, I could keep him in one safe place. I gave up on naps very early because they became such a hard battle. I wondered if it was normal for him to never have fear of natural consequences. I wondered if other kids his age didn’t cry over major accidents but lost it over minor paper cuts. I thought that maybe it was just a boy thing and I was lucky to have an easy going boy the first time.
When I had his baby sister, I began to wonder if he wasn’t the norm. The older he got, the more obvious it was that he thought differently. He reacted to the world around him differently.
When he started school, words like ADHD were thrown around. I began to do my own research into it, and while some of his behaviors were similar to ADHD, I felt like it was something more. A friend of mine was going through the same thing when she found out about SPD and suggested I look into it. The more information I found, the more I was sure that this was my child. I took all my information to my pediatrician, who then referred me to an occupational therapist for a better diagnosis. She confirmed my suspicions and our journey into understanding my son began.
Since then, we have had a lot of ups and downs. A lot of tears and triumphs. So many trials, but just as many victories. Occupational therapy helped so much. The book, The Out-of-Sync Child, became my saving grace. I decided to homeschool him to help him move and learn how he learned best. I found friends that were experiencing the same things so I didn’t feel so alone…so much like a failure.
He is almost 14 years old now. He’s gotten better at self regulating, but still needs help sometimes. He still gets overwhelmed and melts down. We still have hard days. I am always having to remind myself that even though he is visually and chronologically 14, that doesn’t mean he is mentally and emotionally there. He will always need coping mechanisms to navigate this crazy world. So, while he is still living with me, my job is to help him recognize when he needs those. Like a friend of mine reminded me, there is no finish line. As moms, our jobs are to help our children navigate life. SPD is not a death sentence. It does not define my son. It simply helps me understand how my son ticks so I can help him in the best way possible.
(This post was written by Lori Shaffer)