Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Making Sense Out Of Sensory Issues

Justin at therapy in 2004
 I understand that Sensory Processing Disorder occurs when the brain doesn't receive and interpret signals from our senses correctly, but I still have problems making  "sense" of Justin's sensory problems.  My mind just can't grasp how in some ways he can get overstimulated, but then understimulated in other ways.  For the parents of children with these issues, I am sure you know what I'm talking about.  We spend many hours trying to figure out what sets them off and then we spend many more hours searching for a solution. 

One of Justin's biggest daily struggles stemmed from combing his hair so I reevaluated the situation.  I like Justin to have a little bit of hair to comb and style, but asked myself if it was really worth the daily fight and my answer was no.  So my dad and I have worked with him to be able to use clippers on his hair and keep it short.  It has certainly made for a less stressful morning for both Justin and I when he can get up in the morning and not have to worry about his hair.

I've also noticed Justin would have issues in crowded, noisy or new environments and when he was younger, he would have a total meltdown.  I'm talking about hands over the ears, slumping to the ground as if all energy had left his body and screaming to the top of his lungs.  Several times I've had to scoop him up in my arms and leave.  Of course I would hear the occasional "All that boy needs is a good spanking to straighten him out."  I would feel the tears well up in my eyes and I wanted to turn around and give them a piece of my mind, but the mother in me made me focus on my son.  To deal with this issue better I do two things; one is I make sure he has fidgeters on a lanyard around his neck and the second thing is I use music therapy.  These things being put into place hasn't eliminated his issues in different environments, but it has made things less stressful for him.  It has been years since he has had a total meltdown.

I could go on and on about his sensory issues, but the point I'm trying to make is that we just take it one step at a time.  If something doesn't work, well then we try something else.  Just keep in mind, even though we may not totally understand what our kids are going through, we can still work hard at making their world a little less stressful which in turn makes our world a little more peaceful.

Wishing you all an evening of peace,
Angela :)


  1. Thank you for this post. Like you, I have problems making sense of my son's SPD. Something that doesn't bother him one day sends him into meltdown the next. He can be happy and carefree, then begin crying because he wanted to do a task (turn off a light, open a door) that we did not know he wanted to do because he did not tell us he wanted to do until after the fact. Also like you, we have worked on ways to make things easier. It used to take both my husband and I to hold down our son, force his mouth open, and attempt to get a tablespoon of medicine in him without him spitting it out (rarely worked). Our son found a silly straw in a drawer and now uses that to drink his medicine out of the dosage cup. We have not had a problem with him taking medicine since! Now, if we could only find a way to make him not so scared in new places ...

  2. Angela, as you know being Justin's Grandmother, and living beside you I see Justin's sensory issues a lot. It has always baffled me also, but I know they are real and it is not a behavioral problem. Some people can be so cruel. They have no idea what it takes to be the parent of a special needs child. I think it take courage, strength, dedication, determination, patience and lots and lots of love! I see all of these in you. You are such a good mother not only to Justin, but to Joshua and Savannah as well.

    Love ya