Friday, November 23, 2012

My son has SPD

I found this picture using a Google search, but this is perfect for teaching people about SPD (sensory processing disorder). Along with letting people know about my son. So, I'll break it down and describe how he is.
AJ is 5 years old. He will be 6 in January. He is, in many ways, your typical 5 year old boy. He likes guns, blocks, video games. But, he is also very much NOT your typical 5 year old boy. AJ has ADHD, ODD, and SPD.

AJ cannot concentrate on anything at all. He can barely read because he's too distracted by the busyness of the pictures in the easy books. Too occupied by the white space in books that don't have pictures. He's too distracted with what everyone else around him is doing. If we ask him to do something, he forgets halfway through what he was supposed to be doing. 
He doesn't like the vacuum at all. He claims he isn't scared of it, but he runs and screams when I turn it on. This could be a typical little-kid fear, but I'm not 100% sure. He runs as soon as he flushes the toilet because it's loud. And forget about public toilets. He will scream and shriek when they flush. Loud noises typically cause him to jump, and sometimes panic. However, if he's deeply engrossed in an activity, he might not even hear anything at all. However, if HE is the maker of these loud noises, that is perfectly fine. He will make a really high pitched screeching noise. It seems to only bug me.
Chewing:AJ ALWAYS has his hands in his mouth. He has to chew. He is allowed Gum at school because he so frequently chews on his fingers, his clothes, backpack straps, pencils, markers, rulers, gluesticks (covered), anything. At home, I tell him "Hands out of your mouth" at least 3 times every 10 minutes. I try to keep his hands busy, but it doesn't always work. He will stop doing something just to chew his fingers. 
Fine Motor skills:He started Occupational Therapy over the summer. Twice a week we went. He is in OT at school. They took him out of individual OT because he has improved a lot, but he is still in group OT. His handwriting has improved, he can grasp scissors correctly now. However, his cutting isn't the best. He twists and turns the scissors rather than the paper when he cuts. 
Dressing:AJ can dress himself ... to an extent. He doesn't notice that his shirts are on backwards half the time because he's too focused on the materials. His socks have to be black because the white ones have a funny feel to them. He has white socks, and he will wear them if he doesn't have any black ones left, but he is obviously in discomfort if he has to wear them. Tags bug him. He likes his sleeves to be long enough to cover his hands so that he can chew on them if need be.
He doesn't. Plain and simple. He has too much going on that he can't listen to what's being said to him. Everything I say to him, he hears about 10% of it. I have to repeat myself multiple times. This is where getting down to his level sometimes helps. I still have to focus on getting him to actually recognize what I'm saying and understand fully. Complying? Yeah ... well, his ODD gets in the way of that.
Foods:He often refuses new things because he isn't sure on what the texture might be. For example, the other night, I made Chicken Alfredo for us. I didn't use fettuccine, but instead used shells. He cried for an hour because he was sure he wouldn't like them. Even though they taste the exact same as the penne he wanted me to use. But it isn't the flavor. It's the shape and the texture. He prefers smooth. However, his sister requested shells, and I obliged. Why? Because the last time I made it, I obliged his request of penne. He happily ate the chicken, and scraped off the Alfredo sauce to eat, but left the shells for absolute last. After a while, he finally agreed to eat it. 
My son cringes when I go to hug him. People look at us as if we beat him. He seriously cowers when he sees you opening your arms. You have to give him advance warning, "AJ, can I hug you?". If he says no, he means it. He will cry and scream and kick if you hug him when he doesn't want to. We took pics of us as a family on the stairs of our house this Thanksgiving. Sofia was trying to hold his shoulders in a loving embrace for the picture. He whined and made all these pouty faces until she stopped touching him. He loves to be tickled, but only when he wants to be.  When he had a melt down in Walmart a few months back, he screamed bloodly hell when I picked him up to bring him to the cart in the aisle we were in. He screamed out that I was hurting him. Of course, by not telling him I was picking him up, I may have been unintentionally hurting him. Or at least irritating him. 
He doesn't always walk on his tiptoes. He doesn't always WALK, either. He prefers to skip. Or bounce. Or run. Or somersault. Walking requires him to just move his legs. It doesn't allow him to move his entire body. He needs that movement (thanks, ADHD). But depending on how he's feeling, if he's having a particularly rough day with his SPD, he will walk super slow. If he's wearing something that he's slightly uncomfortable in, that's when he'll drag his feet. It allows him to not touch the fabric as much as if he were running around.

There is a lot more to know about SPD, so if you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask me. Either as a comment here, or email me at

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