Thursday, March 27, 2014

Our Journey with Sensory Processing Disorder

I have struggled with whether or not I should write about this on the good ole blog.  But have decided that it is important for 2 reasons.  The first, I want to give encouragement to parents who are walking through the Sensory Processing journey with their child. Or parents who might be so frustrated because they just can't figure out what makes their kids "tick", and might not know about Sensory Processing Disorder.  Of my six best friends from college, we have 15 kids between us.  Two of these 15 deal with symptoms of sensory processing disorder (3 deal with EXTREME food allergies and one was born with a rare birth defect... dont tell me that there is not something environmental or we are not ingesting something that is causing the rise in the these type of situations... another blog topic)  All of that to say, I think this is a more common problem than some believe.  Until I had a friend talk to me about the topic, I just felt like Craig and I were failing as parents.  Be encouraged.

The other reason- awareness.  Often times these kids can be misunderstood.  By people who dont have children, by parents who have children that are unaware that these situations happen, and in our case.. by preschool ministers.  :)  Like I said, until I had children.. I was an expert on parenting.  Everything that I said "my kids will never...", has definitely happened.

The truth is... Craig and I were in some ways "failing" as a parent to Jackson.  It wasn't our fault though.  Common discipline strategies that were using, were ineffective, because we did not understand truly what Jackson was going through.  Things that we thought were just "normal toddler behaviors.. that he would outgrow" were more deep than that.

Lets first define Sensory Processing Disorder- I will take this straight from the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation's website.

"Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as "sensory integration dysfunction") is a condition that exists when sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological "traffic jam" that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively."

"Sensory Processing Disorder can affect people in only one sense–for example, just touch or just sight or just movement–or in multiple senses. One person with SPD may over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food, or other sensory input to be unbearable. Another might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold. In children whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints is impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. These are the "floppy babies" who worry new parents and the kids who get called "klutz" and "spaz" on the playground. Still other children exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive. These kids often are misdiagnosed - and inappropriately medicated - for ADHD."

All kids with Sensory Processing Disorder do not deal with the same type of sensory issues.  Jackson and our friend, have some similar issues, but some are very very different.  For Jackson, we have noticed it in his hair cuts, nail cuts, brushing of his hair.  It has been shown in school during group time, and his fine motor skills.  Routine has been critical for Jackson. Things that we just didnt understand, when Jackson was a baby (head banging, potty training problems) all make sense now!  It has been absolutely AMAZING to me to learn more about this, and how it has affected Jackson.  

The good news is there are therapists who are trained in dealing with these issues.  It has been such an EXCITING journey, not only for Jackson, but for Craig and I, as his parents.  If you find a good therapist, which we have (if you live in the OKC area, and think your child could be dealing with some sensory issues.. please contact me, I would love to tell you about our therapy location), you will find a person who loves children, who shows extreme patience, and absolutely loves what they do.  They WANT to make life better for the child and the parent.  

Jackson has been going to therapy once a week for a couple of months.  He has continued to have break through days at therapy. They have been working on desensitizing his skin on his hands/head/etc.  But just this week, we had a MAJOR break through AT HOME. Craig had washed Jackson's hair on Saturday night, to get ready for church on Sunday morning.  Jackson came out to the living room, all squeaky clean, and I mentioned to him, we should go back to the bathroom and brush his hair (this normally equates a HUGE break down).. this time, he said "ok mommy" and ran back to the bathroom.  I got the brush, he stood still and let me brush his hair completely, without one ounce of fight.  IT WAS HUGE!!!!!  We celebrated.  I could tell he was so so proud!  Then just last night after his bath, he came out to me and said "ok mommy, its time to brush my hair.. lets go to the bathroom"  When we got back to the bathroom, he said "ok mommy, i want to brush my hair all by myself".  Again, we celebrated! Such a huge huge blessing.  

What seems like a small small thing.. is not a small thing at all for us.  Brushing his hair, truly was traumatizing to him.  And with the help of a professional, we are helping our five year old get passed some of these issues.  I do expect this journey to be just that, a journey.  Its not going to happen over night.  And thats ok.  It will ALL be worth it!  

So parents, if you are parenting a child, where things just dont seem "right".  Its probably not you.. its probably not your parenting.  Its not your child either.  God created every one of our children differently.  And he created every one of them PERFECTLY.  Some children (just like some of us as adults), just need alittle bit of creative parenting, where trained professionals are needed to help us discover the best for everyone involved.  

Truly, there is freedom for you and your child!!!  Surround yourself with people who will love and encourage you and your child.  Surround yourself with people who are willing to go on the journey with you.  Who will want to help see you and your child succeed.  If there are people who expect your child to be in a box, and expect you to treat your children like they should be in a box.. distance yourself from them and their organizations.  They will create unnecessary heart ache.  But most of all, be encouraged... parenting is HARD.  So hard.  But our kids are waaaaaay worth it.  


Scott, Stacy, Maddie, Elle and Lola said...

So happy for you, that this is all getting figured out!!