Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sensational Senses

Sensory Processing Disorder - It's such a unique thing, and something we deal with so often. My darling little man has these, what we think personally, are amazing senses. Basically he picks up senses before you and I would. Sounds and especially tastes are more heightened to him. It's such a hard thing to explain to people, and especially hard for people to understand how my son could feel, so I thought I would share information on Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Issues.

It's thought that one in twenty children suffer some sort of sensory processing issue.
It's not known what causes sensory issues, just like most neurological issues.

Sensory Processing Disorder is when people process senses, such as touch, smell, sounds, movement ect differently to how someone usually would. The brain interpreters senses and for most people we all feel/hear/smell the same thing. For someone with Sensory Processing Issues the senses don't get organised properly in the brain and nervous system in a way that changes the child's/persons perspective on how things are felt/smelt/sound ect. Sometimes it's described as a 'traffic jam'.
Sometimes this 'traffic jam' can become too overwhelming for a child and they may have strong emotional behaviours towards different things.

 People can be either 'avoiding' or 'seeking'. This is how the body responds to the heightened/not as heightened senses. Think of the flight or fight effect.
'Avoiders' generally are more sensitive to senses, can become quite over stimulated, prefers 'plain' things, eg, not too many textures, flavours, sounds ect.
'Seekers' generally can't fill up their sensory input enough! Imagine when you're extremely thirsty. No matter how much you drink you still feel dehydrated. You want to drink! You don't want to feel dehydrated! But you just can't seem to satisfy your thirst. This is how a seeker feels for their sensory input.

For my son in particular, soft sounds are really loud (an indicator in the car is enough to unsettle him). Warm food is too hot. Blankets are too heavy (although this is something we've overcome). Pressure on him, including some nappies are just too much for him to cope with. Concrete is too rough to walk on, and so is sand. Socks need to be particularly on properly. Over stimulation and routine also plays a huge part in Jydan's life.
Say, you know when you have brand new soft sheets? How comfortable! I know I have a restful sleep. My son? That involved two hours of crying tonight and I expect him to wake a couple of times unsettled through the night. We have a couple of bed sets that are exactly the same, and that's helped a lot, but he can still tell.

According to SPD Australia, here are some signs that your child may have Sensory Processing Disorder:

  • Child may seem to be in constant motion, unable to sit still for an activity
  • Has trouble focusing or concentrating, can’t stay on task
  • Seems to be always running, jumping, stomping rather than walking
  • Bumps into things or frequently knocks things over
  • Reacts strongly to being bumped or touched
  • Avoids messy play and doesn’t like to get hands dirty
  • Hates having hair washed, brushed or cut.
  • Resists wearing new clothing and is bothered by tags or socks
  • Distressed by loud or sudden sounds such as a siren or a vacuum
  • Has poor fine motor skills such as writing and cutting, difficulty with buttons and tying shoelaces
  • Has poor gross motor skills such as body co-ordination, riding a bike, swimming, running
  • Hesitates to play or climb on playground equipment
  • Difficulties with balance
  • Difficulty with eyes tracking objects and often loses place when reading or copying from board
  • Marked mood variations and tendency to outbursts and tantrums
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Has trouble following  and remembering a 2—3 step instruction
  • Fussy eater, often gags on food
  • Reacts to smells not noticed by others
    Sensory Red Flags:
    If a child is…
    •  Very busy, always on the go, and has a very short attention to task
    •  Often lethargic or low arousal (appears to be tired/slow to respond, all the time, even after a nap)
    •  A picky eater
    •  Not aware of when they get hurt (no crying, startle, or reaction to injury)
    •  Afraid of swinging/movement activities; does not like to be picked up or be upside down
    •  Showing difficulty learning new activities (motor planning)
    •  Having a hard time calming themselves down appropriately, difficult to settle and hard to put to sleep
    •  Appearing to be constantly moving around, even while sitting
    •  Showing poor or no eye contact
    •  Frequently jumping and/or purposely falling to the floor/crashing into things
    •  Seeking opportunities to fall without regard to his/her safety or that of others
    •  Constantly touching everything they see, including other children
    •  Hypotonic (floppy body, like a wet noodle)
    •  Having a difficult time with transitions between activity or location
    •  Overly upset with change in routine
    •  Hates bath time or grooming activities such as; tooth brushing, hair brushing, hair cuts, having nails cut, etc.
    •  Afraid of/aversive to/avoids being messy, or touching different textures such as grass, sand, carpet, paint, playdoh, etc.

If you would like some more information on Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Issues check out these sites;

Here are more posts and ideas for sensory issue's I have posted before!
5 Sensory Fun Ideas For A One Year Old.

Moving House Book

10 Tips For Packing With A Sensory Sensitive Toddler.

Dealing With Sensory Processing Disorder.


Emily55 said...

Ahh yet another post which makes me see so many similarities between Jydan any myself!!

Along with his eczema and acid reflux (and ginger locks) I also am highly sensitive.
I'm ridiculously fussy about clothes--tags get removed with a quick unpick as soon as I get them home. Any scratchy bits of material drive me insane. I have to buy very expensive sheets for my bed or else I can't sleep. I can't have ANY lights on in my room or else I can't sleep (I swear I can see/sense lights through my closed eyes!)
I'm a fussy eater, and was much fussier when I was younger.
Smells like cooking cauliflower or meat used to make me go mental, and even now at 24 I have to cover my nose and mouth around meat as I feel like I am going to be sick from the smell.
I hate being in crowds, my personal space is very important to me. I don't like being touched by anyone but my partner, as even a hug hello feels too intimate. I never kissed or hugged anyone as a child because it felt so wrong to me, like a real invasion.
Jydan is so lucky that he has been born now, because even 20 years ago when I was a little kid no one really knew about this stuff--you were just being fussy or naughty. And Jydan is very lucky to have such a switched on, observant mum!

Harley Cocks said...

Wow!! Thanks for sharing you story.

Its amazing, people still go 'oh he's just fussy...' Its hard to explain to people when that's been the thought for so many decades x