In one of my previous posts last week, I spoke about a condition called Sensory processing disorder. You can read about it HERE.
At first, I was (understandably) skeptical about the methods I had to follow, simply because Jamie is such an active little guy, and knowing his personality, I feared that he would not co-operate.
I refused to allow it to change or control our lives. Instead, I made it part of our daily routines and, luckily for me, Jamie adapted wonderfully and I have seen a remarkable difference in his behavior and the way in which he responds to particular situations at home – in just ONE week! It is without a doubt there will be days he will refuse to co-operate, however, this has been a fantastic start!
Today I am sharing information on the methods that I have put into practice.
Firstly, after seeing an Occupational Therapist (I suggest you do this first as to eliminate all the possibilities, and identify the type of sensory disorder), I was aware of the “diagnosis” and was able to take action while it was still a relatively recent issue. With the use of learning aids, and PLENTY of patience, I was able to solve them without the frustration and confusion that comes with dealing with SPD.
When Jamie goes into intensive overdrive, he finds it difficult to co-ordinate his senses, and with all the energy he has built up throughout the day, he reaches a point of the day he can no longer contain all the energy he has accumulated. This is when we introduced the sensory diet.
- Waking up in the morning, I introduce a push and play activity. This is any type of exercise, or activity in which he can use majority of his muscles. For example; star jumps, or holding his legs and letting him walk on his hands
- My aim is for him to utilize the time he has after school to do activities that will assist him to release some of this built up energy by doing a bigger activity using less energy. For example: carrying a (appropriately) heavy bag of toys, unpacking, jumping on a trampoline.
- I make sure that he eats dinner before he baths. The reason for this is that bathing is known to be a calming activity. If he eats after he baths, the smell of his food awakens his sense of smell and he becomes hyperactive.
- I aim to get him in the bath 30 minutes before bed time. This will help make the transition from bath to bed easier without allowing any time in between for unnecessary distractions that might trigger his senses.
- I offer him a deep pressure massage with a non-scented lotion, to help him relax.
- I read him a story and have light music on in the background to assist with the calming environment.
- The idea is to have less energy, introducing a more calming environment nearing the end of the day.
When Jamie becomes anxious, he searches for ways to calm and soothe himself. Unfortunately this means that he puts his toys in his mouth, biting tiny pieces off, or alternatively if he doesn’t have a toy close by, he uses his hands and bites down or grinds his teeth.
The OT recommended a great little soothing aid called super chew. It is safe and it is impossible for him to bite pieces of the rubber off. Whenever he feels anxious or starts grinding his teeth, I offer it to him and he chews away.
This is of utmost importance when dealing with SPD. You are guaranteed to struggle if you do not have a form of routine in place.
Waking up in the morning, Jamie refuses to get dressed; he is tired and doesn’t want the light to be switched on. In this case, I switch the bedroom lamp on, encourage him to wake up by giving him some warm milk and challenge him to do a “chore”, for example, help with feeding the cats. (Most kids love chores – they love to feel needed) Making sure that whatever it is he is getting up to do, is realistic and won’t disappoint him. (For example, telling him he must get up to go eat some imaginary left over cake. It’s not happening, and also, what is left over cake anyway?)
This will be followed by a routine check; (With Jamie being easily visually stimulated, these methods work best for him)
I place the below laminated illustration cards in the appropriate room, and get him involved. He tells me what step comes next. He is aware that he is unable to get the next step if he doesn’t follow the sequence correctly. As we do these steps one by one, we move on to the following steps. (you can alternatively place them in the box as the steps are completed) by doing this, he is aware that has completed it and can move on to the next step.
Jamie however prefers to keep them up on the wall and cover them up as the tasks have been completed. (*apologies for the bad quality images!)
Morning: Waking up & Getting dressed – placed in the bathroom, and in the bedroom.
Getting Ready to Bath : Placed in the bathroom
Bath Time: placed in the bathroom above the bath
There is an interesting variety of visual cards that can assist you in teaching and guiding your children. You can find all of these learning aids here
At times, I feel discouraged and lose my patience on the days that he refuses to co-operate (and trust me, there are and will be plenty in the future) and frustration kicks in when I don’t see results. But have to remind myself of one extremely important fact, I am responsible for my child, therefore I will persist, and guide him to the best of my ability to ensure that he is always happy and always taken care of.