SENSORY SENSE

The JumpTherapy Blog:
Sensory Processing, Motor and Social Skills Resources
for Parents of Special Needs Children

Walking the World In My Child’s Shoes

Understanding SPD from the inside

alone boy
It’s too much for me.
The room is too bright, the lights stab knives in my eyes and hum like a thousand bees; whichever way I spin there is more light and more noise. And more smells. Even the smells are loud. It all smells spoiled and rotten like old milk and I’m afraid I’m going to throw up and everyone is going to be mad at me. Again. Why are you all talking talking talking all at once? it’s making my ears hurt like the thunder does when I have to hide in my closet behind the long clothes. My socks are strangling my toes and the tag in my shirt makes my neck feel on fire and my pants are too tight for me to breathe; why didn’t you let me wear my comfy clothes? Don’t touch me! no no i don’t want to be hugged. why are you all so close? people are all around me they’re too close they’re touching me i try to move away but there are so many people and i can’t get away — my brain is going to explode if i don’t get out out out of here right now, i can’t take it for one more second; i need to kick and scream and punch my way out of here NOW!
 
So, does it still sound like a treat to take your SPD child to his cousin’s birthday party?
 
Different experiences of SPD
I’ve collected some articles, blogs and videos to help you understand what your child goes through every single day of his/her life. Many are written by SPD kids and teens to describe how they feel in their own words. 
 
Here are links to materials and sites which I hope will help you see through your child’s eyes for a little while. You can also share them with others who need help understanding how SPD affects your child and your family. 
 
An introduction
This simple, sensitive video provides instructive ‘hints’ about what your child is seeing and feeling, and also can serve as a useful introductory tool to assist you in explaining SPD to family and friends.
 
A meltdown and ways you can help, told from the inside
This article, written by a young adult (Daniel Travis), is a powerful depiction of how a sensory-overload-generated meltdown feels, and provides guidance about how parents can help cope with, and prevent, meltdowns. 
 
More information and advice from Daniel Travis
Mr. Travis was not able to get much support dealing with SPD until he was an adult, which made his journey an especially challenging one. His generosity in sharing his hard-gained insight and recommendations can help you advocate for your child. For more on Daniel Travis’s story:
and
 
A sensory overload simulation
This video provides a simulation of what sensory overload feels like for a young autistic teenager. It is helpful because the feelings of sensory overload are the same whether or not there is a diagnosis of autism along with SPD (the two disorders often, but not always, co-exist).
 
understood.org — a resource helping parents understand
There is a myriad of valuable information on this site, including: 
– Accounts by kids telling their own learning and attention stories in their own words; 
– Simple but not condescending explanations by professionals, which incorporate 
– Personalized simulators so viewers can better understand what different types of SPD feel like (try these; it’s as close as you can come to experiencing what your child does); 
– Expert advice on a huge range of topics from talking to your child about SPD and social issues, to finding babysitters and tax deductions.
 
A blog post portraying a typical SPD day and how you can smooth the path (from understood.org)
This article, “A Day in the Life of a Child With Sensory Processing Issues,” from the site’s collection of materials on SPD issues, is written by an adult and includes various practical coping strategies.
 
A video narrated by a child with SPD and autism (from understood.org)
There are many useful videos on this site; this one may be especially informative for parents because it depicts so clearly how one particular elementary school age boy is personally affected and how he is coping. Although the text is obviously written by an adult and aimed at helping adults understand their children’s SPD disorders, it is equally obviously an accurate portrayal of this particular young child’s experience, and how intervention is helping him thrive.
 
Thriving with SPD, in a teenager’s words
This very straightforward, uplifting blog post is written by a teenager with SPD who learned how to thrive. I hope her words will inspire you to have confidence both in your child’s abilities and in your own ability to support him or her with that “little extra patience and help” which the writer mentions.
 
A basic chart of possible SPD trigger zones
Knowing the likely sensory hotspots can help you avoid meltdowns and other SPD issues.
 
Daily life with SPD
As you can see from the small taste of experiences we’ve looked at, every child is different and every child’s SPD is different. That means every child’s coping tactics are going to be different as well. Together with your OT, you can build a backpack of sensory strategies tailored to your child’s individual experience in order to help him or her cope with the daily onslaught of input. 
 
Looking ahead:
In upcoming posts, we will discuss the varying ways children can experience SPD, and why we need a comparable variety of approaches to help our children thrive.
 
Is your child able to express how s/he is affected by SPD? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, let me know there or via email what topics you would like to discuss or hear more about. 
 
Feel free to share or quote from this blog (with attribution, please, and if possible, a link), and to repost on social media.
 
 
I look forward to hearing from you!
 
 

All the best,
Miriam

About Miriam:
Miriam Skydell MS, OTR/L is a pediatric OT with 30 years experience and a strong commitment to empowering every child and every family with the skills, confidence and emotional stability necessary for a meaningful, independent life. In addition to her Masters degree from NYU (1986) and membership in the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association), Miriam is a licensed Interactive Metronome®,  HWT (Handwriting Without Tears®), and TLP (The Listening Program®) provider.

Miriam performs preschool screenings, contracts experienced OTs, PTs and STs to schools, helped implement the HWT curriculum, and lectures extensively for parent and support groups and at teacher conferences for public and private schools throughout New Jersey. Through her private practice in Fair Lawn, Miriam Skydell and Associates, established in 1995, Miriam has helped countless children with a wide range of diagnoses improve functional living skills, manage the impact of sensory processing dysfunction, and meet their individual potentials.