A Mom Shares Her Struggles Dealing with Her Son’s Sensory Processing Disorder

Most of us have witnessed the dreaded child meltdown. Whether it’s a facedown fit in the store or nonstop screaming on a plane. For some parents, no matter how many techniques they try, every day is a struggle. Here is one mom’s story. (child screaming) My name’s Diana. I’m the mom of two five-year old twins, Body and Sky. When my husband and I found out we were having twins we were so excited. My son, Body, loves trains. He loves dinosaurs, and he’s a very creative kid. At (child crying) about 18 months, that’s when we realized that something was wrong with Body. Body was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. And it deals with how we experiences the senses. Body was misdiagnosed with just having a speech and language impairment, and a global developmental delay, and even acid reflux. Later we learned Body is diagnosed with SBD and autism. When Body was first diagnosed it was really scary. Your mind immediately goes to like, “Oh my goodness, what’s going to happen to my kid?” I think a child with SPD makes life really challenging. Things have to follow routine for Body, otherwise he’ll get upset and agitated. We’re always like in the midst of a terrible tantrum. (Body whining) Okay, okay. (Body screaming) It’s every day. (Body screaming) Sometimes if Body says, “I don’t wanna wear this shirt to school” I’ll just give in because it’s really not worth the battle. He doesn’t like foods that are mushy. I don’t want this! He’s very sensitive to the textures. He’s really resistant to baths. Absolutely no showers. Okay, you ready to come inside? No! Body has problems with brushing his teeth. He refuses to use toothpaste. Can we put a tiny bit of toothpaste on? No! It’s really put a strain on our relationship. You end up taking out things on your spouse because it’s the only person going through it with you. After trying different therapies, we finally got a lot of information. Did a special program. They did a lot of tests with him. We found out that the sensory issues were causing a majority of his problems. It’s really hard because SPD really limits my son, and it creates this anxiety and fearfulness that’s constantly present. [Body whining] Your constantly trying to make your kid happy and sometimes it’s impossible. [Body shrieking] Diana joins us now in our audience, and I want to thank you for sharing your story. This is something you deal with every single day and obviously affects your whole family. What’s the hardest part? We’ve found that these tantrums are just he gets uncomfortable in so many scenarios, and that discomfort leads to this like escalation of this tantrum that we can’t control. [Guest] What situations seem to be the most troubling? For him the most troubling is eating. He’s highly highly sensitive to food textures and he’s just not eating a lot of foods. Very few items. And that puts a lot of stress as a mom. You constantly want your kid to have a nutritious food. I send his lunch to school and it’s full of like crunchy items. He eats crackers, chips, and cookies. And that’s clearly not a nutritious lunch. But that’s the only thing he can eat to participate and be typical with the kids. At least he’s participating in lunch time. Right, so sensory processing disorder, a lot of people have a lot of misconceptions about it. It isn’t a clinical diagnosis in the DSM, but it is a recognized clinical problem. And it’s a subset of some individuals with an autism diagnosis, but I know Body has. But also people who don’t have the autism diagnosis can also just have sensory processing issues. And this can involve either hyper stimulation so that when they have certain sensory things coming in they can’t organize and it’s too much. Or it could be hypo, meaning that it’s too little. So then you will sometimes see kids maybe opposite of Body whose looking for more textures, looking for more sensations cause they don’t get enough from their daily environment. So Diana, what I hope that this segment raises is awareness and empathy from people. Because it already is so hard being a mom. It’s already challenging to feed your kids, to have the patience, to dedicate that time to your husband and your other child, your daughter. And then all the extra effort that Body takes. So I just want to commend you for all that you’re doing. (audience clapping) And I hope that people will have more understanding.

4 comments

  1. As an adult with SPD but not autism I seriously want to thank you for highlighting the fact that you don't need to be autistic to have it! I was never diagnosed in childhood and simply told I had an undiagnosed learning disability instead and given an IEP to help with it (which was better than nothing but still not perfect). Because I only ever saw it associated with autism which I new I didn't have I never realized it was possible to have on its own until two years ago and suddenly so many things in life made sense and I finally felt validation and understanding. As another sufferer of texture issues I can also relate to the struggles with food he has and so much more! Thanks for highlighting this!

  2. I have autism the hypersensitivity I have similar to my issues. I need a milder toothpaste, mint or mint gum is too strong for my nose, some mushy foods are too much for me. I need soft clothes not rough, I wait until the hot coffee cools down and the cold water is a little cold. I need my headphones when going in loud places or with lots of people. I'm not eating food that's close to one another.

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