Sensory Processing Disorder… have you heard of it?
We hadn’t until a few years ago. The Bear Cub came home to us when he was 18 months old and we immediately noticed how loud he could be in comparison to other children we knew, but never thought it could be a sensory issue! Fast forward to him age 4 and we now have a lot more knowledge by this stage. Mainly because he has been screened for SPD and it came back with spikes in hearing, balance, taste and texture. Light bulb moment! This explained so very much!
We’d always struggled a with food. New tastes and textures were a challenge for him, and he would happily eat the same meals every day if we let him. To this day, his breakfast and tea very rarely change… breakfast is a yoghurt and several Weetabix, sometimes with more helpings of Cheerios or Shreddies if he fancies it. He certainly gets his daily recommended fibre intake!!! Tea is a cheese sandwich on brown bread, pea crisps, strawberries, grapes (always red), raisins, and a Freddo, washed down with apple juice. It is very, very rare that he will deviate from this. Lunch is a hot meal provided by school 5 days per week, and luckily there is usually an option that he will eat, plus a fruit snack mid morning.
Hearing is the major spike for us. He has super sensitive hearing and can sometimes hear noises that we can’t. He notices things like the fridge humming or an alarm going off way down the street. Loud and unexpected noises can make him literally leap into the air. And yet he is the LOUDEST child we have ever met! He isn’t attuned to his own volume levels and this can become an issue sometimes, especially at school. His teachers have been fantastic, reminding him about his volume levels whenever needed, as we do at home too.
He becomes dysregulated by certain environments, which to others who don’t understand our situation, may seem strange. At parties for instance, he can’t handle the noise and bouncing on bouncy castles etc for long. He’s always been scared of going on swings, but will happily come down the highest slide! He sometimes gets agitated by his surroundings, which often leads to him running away or becoming upset or aggressive. We’ve learnt how to help him regulate by using therapeutic parenting techniques and this has been a huge turning point for us. (I’ll talk more about therapeutic parenting another day because this is a huge subject that deserves its own post.) To outsiders he probably looks “naughty” and sometimes strangers give us odd looks, or stare, or try to give, ahem, helpful advice 🤔, but we don’t notice this so much nowadays. He is our boy and he is so very special. His additional needs just make him even more awesome to us!
Do you have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder? I’d love to hear from you!