Children with Sensory Processing Disorder often have problems with motor skills and other abilities needed for school success and childhood accomplishments. As a result, they often become socially isolated and suffer from low self-esteem and other social/emotional issues.
These difficulties put children with SPD at high risk for many emotional, social, and educational problems, including the inability to make friends or be a part of a group, poor self-concept, academic failure, and being labeled clumsy, uncooperative, belligerent, disruptive, or "out of control." Anxiety, depression, aggression, or other behavior problems can follow. Parents may be blamed for their children's behavior by people who are unaware of the child's "hidden handicap." (From SPD Foundation's website)
These are the issues that scare me! We're working really hard to prevent them, and I know there is more we will need to do (and start doing now). So far, he seems to be doing well with most of this -- though he is not yet 6 and would only be in kindergarten this year.
One of the things we're doing (that we had planned to do even before we found out about Josiah's sensory issues) is to homeschool him. We did try putting him in preschool at age 4 because he is such an extrovert and loves to be around people -- but after several months, it just wasn't working for him. He started coming home worried that the other kids didn't like him and started to resist going some of the time. And we noticed that the "better" he was at school, the "worse" he was at home. It just took too much of his energy to keep it together for those few hours and he would completely meltdown at home. The staff at the preschool were amazing and tried really hard to be helpful, but school just isn't an environment that he can succeed in right now.
In my terrified moments, I've considered putting him into kindergarten, but then I remember what a miserable nightmare it would be for him -- intellectually, he is ahead of the curve, but his motor skills (large motor for recess games and ball playing and small motor for things like cutting and especially writing and drawing) he's a little behind -- which means he would spend half his time bored and the other half frustrated, and that just sounds like a recipe for disaster, not to mention all the time he'd have to spend trying to sit still when his body really wants him to stay on the move. Even if we could get him to a place where he'd manage all right at school, I think it would be at the expense of having a happy child at home, and we're just not willing to do that right now. Perhaps at some point in the future we'll try school, but for now homeschooling is best for all of us.
Our area has tons of homeschoolers, which means tons of support and lots of social opportunities, like Wednesday Park Play Day, where a large group of homeschooled families meet at a local park (a different one each week) to let the kids play. He gets the benefit if building relationships with the same group of kids each week (a variety of age groups, too) and has a great time getting to run and climb while I get to chat with other homeschooling moms -- great setup!
I'm also trying to talk with him more about what his body is telling him and how he is (and/or can be) handling that. Not only will this teach him more self-awareness and relevant coping skills, it will help remind us that he's dealing with sensory issues in those moments we forget and want to just treat him like a normal kid when he's driving us crazy! Right now I'm working with our OT to write a few "social stories" that help him understand and deal with some of the key issues that are frustrating us all right now -- more on that in future posts I hope.
And, of course, I'm trying to educate the people around us so they will start to understand the challenges he faces. I sometimes wish his special needs were more obvious, that he didn't look so normal to outside observers so that we would all face less scrutiny and judgment (can I at least plaster a huge bumper sticker on all his clothes?!) I know that wouldn't solve everything either, and I'm grateful that he really is so adorable and articulate and fun (most of the time LOL). And do lots of praying for grace and wisdom and joy -- and we're finding more and more of that all the time!