October is National Sensory Awareness Month.
Our 4 year old daughter was diagnoised with Sensory Processing Disorder this past spring. She was having issues at school and one of her teachers, Miss Rachael, asked if we would be willing to see an OT for possible SPD. She had kept a child with SPD and Ashlee was showing some signs. We agreed since we had thought something was different but just thought we were overreacting. We are so grateful for Miss Rachael and Miss Krissy. They took Ashlee under their Angel Wings and helped her grow. Once we got Ashlee in OT for SPD, we saw a huge improvement at home. We did alot of research and learned to look for triggers that could be too much for Ashlee thus cause a meltdown. It was and still is hard work but with the knowledge we have now, we can help Ashlee, not hinder her. Knowledge is power. Sadly some do not have the knowledge and seem not to want to learn. Ashlee was kicked out of the preschool program where she had been going to for Mother's Day Out. The teacher could not handle her and was not willing to do the tips we suggested due to being too hard to do with 11 kids. I won't be too rude here but we found Ashlee a new school where they know about SPD and are willing to help. Today is Ashlee's 2nd day and so far so good.
So what is SPD? According to Wikiepedia:
Sensory processing disorder or SPD is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with taking in, processing, and responding to sensory information about the environment and from within the own body (visual, auditory, tactile, olfaction, gustatory, vestibular, and proprioception).
For those identified as having SPD, sensory information may be sensed and perceived in a way that is different from most other people. Unlike blindness or deafness, sensory information can be received by people with SPD, the difference is that information is often registered, interpreted and processed differently by the brain. The result can be unusual ways of responding or behaving, finding things harder to do. Difficulties may typically present as difficulties planning and organizing, problems with doing the activities of everyday life (self care, work and leisure activities), and for some with extreme sensitivity, sensory input may result in extreme avoidance of activities, agitation, distress, fear or confusion.
For Ashlee, her triggers are too much noise or too much visual. Music class was too much for her after about 10 minutes, Wal-Mart is too much after the same time frame; some days brushing her hair hurts. We have learned that if she has a toy or a game to play with while we are shopping, she does so much better. When she does have too much, is overstimulated, she will start acting out. For some reason she has chosen to say "Shut Up!" and will throw things or bite her arm. We used to put her in time out for this but now we know this is her way of saying "HELP!" So we just say "We don't use those words. Now breathe and calm down and tell me what do you need? Are you hungry, sleepy, tired?" Usually she wants some chips which she likes because of the hardness. So I will fix her a bowl of her favorite chips and sit her down to watch TV. This calms her down and she will cool off and go back to playing. There are a few times when she has just had too much and the chips do not work so I put her in time out and let her scream it out for a couple of mins. Then I go back to her and tell her again to calm down and tell me what she needs. This usually works the first time. Before we had the knowlege of SPD, her meltdowns were long and tiring for me and her. Knowledge truly is power. We have a much better relationship due to it.
One thing we were told early on in OT was to get Ashlee a weighted blanket since she likes pressure. Her OT said if I sew, I could make one cheaper than I could buy one. So since I was just learning to sew, I tried my hand at making one. My first attempt was far from perfect but it worked. I even made one for my friend whose son has Austim and SPD. Since I had opened an Etsy store, I thought I would see how well they would sell. I tweaked my design a few times before I am happy with it. I did re-do Ashlee's with the new design and it looks so much better. lol. And for selling the blankets, I have sold 7 so far! I always remind buyers to consult their OT or doctor before chosing a size and weight. But I am willing to make any size or weight with your fabric choice. So I don't just make blankets to sell, I make them because I know they work. My daughter uses one so I know the benefits of them.
I hope you made this far, if you did Yay! Now go read more on SPD because Knowledge is Power!