Thanks for joining me along the journey! I'd love to hear what you want to know ... do you have questions about sensory processing disorder, gluten-free/dairy-free diets, homeschooling, faith, life in general? Send me a note or post a comment and I'll try to write something that addresses your interests and questions!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

30 SPD Facts in 30 Days -- Fact #7

What are some signs of Sensory Processing Disorder?

Vestibular Sense: input from the inner ear about equilibrium, gravitational changes, movement experiences, and position in space.

Signs Of Vestibular Dysfunction:

Hypersensitive:   Avoids playground and moving equipment; fearful of heights; dislikes being tipped upside down; often afraid of falling; has trouble walking on uneven surfaces; and avoids rapid, sudden or rotating movements.

Hyposensitive:  Craves any possible movement experience, especially fast or spinning; never seems to sit still; is a thrill seeker; shakes leg while sitting; loves being tossed in the air; never seems to get dizzy; full of excessive energy.

Remember that inconsistency is a hallmark of this disorder, so you may find yourself/your child being hypersensitive one day and hyposensitive another day and on yet another day seem completely normal.  For a more complete checklist of symptoms, click here.

This is one of the systems that gives Josiah the most trouble, at least as far as behaving in a socially acceptable manner is concerned.  He is hypersensitive in that movements feel larger to him than they really are, and hyposensitive in that he seeks them out and can't sit still for any length of time.  For example, when he falls at the playground, from just the first or second rung of a ladder and cries like he has broken his arm, we've learned to ask whether he's hurt or scared/startled -- usually he's startled because his body processed the fall as if it was ten feet rather than just two.  At the same time, he craves movement and really cannot sit still!  Our OT describes it as living life on a waterbed -- even when he is still, he feels like his body is still in motion, and that can be VERY disorienting.  He copes with that disorientation by keeping moving (controlling your movements is less disorienting than feeling like you're moving even when you're not).  Even when he is intensely interested in something (like a movie or Wii game), he doesn't sit still.  He'll watch an entire movie, but he'll be climbing on the couch, bouncing around, standing up/sitting down/standing up, etc. throughout the whole thing. 

Mealtimes are particularly challenging.  He has a hard time sitting still even for the length of a meal, especially if there is anything that challenges his senses with the food (taste, texture, smell).  Even at home this can be rough, trying to get him to have dinner with us as a family, or even just eat until he is full (rather than trying to run off and do something more stimulating) -- but taking him out to eat is even more difficult.  He is constantly crawling under the table, climbing on the seats and booth, wanting to be up walking around, and trying to contain him is VERY difficult, and the longer he is contained, the more disoriented he becomes from a sensory standpoint, and the harder and harder it is for him to "behave"  We try to be careful about where we take him (restaurants that are familiar, with foods that he likes the taste, smell and texture of) and when we take him (4:30 for dinner instead of 6:00, for example, and never on a busy Saturday night!)

This is also one of the big reasons we've chosen to homeschool.  He would never be able to sit still through a school day and is a very kinesthetic learner (he learns best while he is moving around).  Instead of reciting phonics from his desk in a classroom, at home he can recite phonics while bouncing on a trampoline, or run to a letter on the wall and shout what sound it makes.  Instead of just hearing or reading about ducks, he can pretend to be a duck and learn about how they live and what they eat while we waddle around the room :)

Don't forget to stop by Hartley's Life with 3 Boys to read 30 Stories in 30 Days, guest blogs from 30 different families about their experiences with an SPD child.

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