My eldest was officially diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) over a year ago. It didn’t come as a surprise, in fact, we had some very strong suspicions about it before we ever took her in for an evaluation. SPD effects people in different ways. For my eldest, she is hyposensitive to a lot of things. As a result, she tends to be whirling, crashing, bumping… a very much on the go kind of kid. The deeper the sensory input for her, the better she registers it, and the better her body processes it. As a result, she seeks input that she understands. Unwelcome or unanticipated soft touches drive her insane. In fact, she’s more likely to react strongly (fight, flight, freeze) to a sensation that is soft and doesn’t register well, than to a more firm touch.
We try hard to meet her sensory needs through a lot of different sensory related activities. Rice play, water sports, tumbling, swinging… Even without conscious effort we can help her. A heavy backpack or a basket of laundry can be really effective tools for getting proprioceptive input ino her body. Proprioceptive input helps balance serotonin dopamine, which in turns will help DD1′s brain regulate and keeps her in a neutral and relaxed state of learning.
Our biggest challenge to date, has been figuring out how to advocate for her at school. Two weeks ago she started Kindergarten and absolutely LOVES it. She loves her teacher, her fellow students, and comes home everyday with new stuff she’s learning. Unfortunately, there are specific points to SPD that can make out-of-home learning difficulty. In DD1′s case, she struggles with sitting quietly. This can become an issue during lunch and nap time. (Areas we’ve always seen as “hard” for her.)
I’m hoping to be able to get together with her teacher or a counselor to talk to her school about what they offer for kids with SPD. In an ideal world she would be allowed to do her body brushing (ie: The Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Techinique [DPPT]) and her teacher would work with her to do some deep pressure activities before being expected to do quiet seat work. (She LOVES jumping jacks and crab crawls.).
However, there are things we’re working on here at the house. We’re doing a walk in the a.m. before school starts. She likes the walks. We walk backwards, we skip, we do bunny hops across the street, and she wiggles her way sideways. By the time we get in the car to go to school, she’s ready to sit for a while. We’re also eating high protein breakfast and working to provide her with a high protein lunch. After school we do a half an hour of big muscle work and a snack.
I’m hoping that as we get into the rhythm of things, and as we settle into the new year, that we find a system that works best for her.