Why Do Kids With Sensory Processing Disorder Have A Tougher Time In Summer?

When you have a child who is learning to grow up with sensory processing disorder, you might be surprised to know that summer can be one of the most difficult times of the year. While much of the other three seasons is spent inside, most people prefer to be outside during the warmest months. That means parents will take their kids out and about as often as possible. This change in routine can be a real pain for kids with SPD.

Director of the Children’s Center Early Intervention and Family Support Jeff Johnson explains: “There are people talking, there are smells coming off the grill and their bare feet are touching the grass and the wind is whipping and the leaves are rustling and there’s a dog barking…All of that piled onto somebody with a generalized sensory input problem could put them over the edge.”

Different kids have different needs, as any parent of a child on the spectrum already knows. For example, some kids won’t like to be touched. A spray sunscreen can work wonders for those who don’t want to be lathered up. Then again, those who can’t stand the sound of a spray can will probably prefer it the old-fashioned way.

One crucial component of understanding how to help your kids with SPD make the most of the summer months involves communication. You need to go the extra mile to let them know that in most situations they can control how long they stay outside, what kind of activities they’re comfortable with, and how to say “no” to the ones they aren’t comfortable with.

There are other forms of entertainment available as well, and not all of them have to take place outside. Older kids might respond well to video games. Visual kids might do well with toys aimed at the fidgeters out there. Others might prefer an array of musical instruments to pass the time, and using these might even help them adapt to the discomfort of an outdoors environment in some situations.

Another issue with the outdoors is the temperature. Many kids are sensitive to heat. In other words, “excessive heat” means something completely different to them than it does to everyone else. Some might display a mild dislike for the sun, while others will actually start to develop symptoms that, in the worst cases, can even become life-threatening. Sensitivity isn’t always just in the head or the way the mind works. Sometimes it’s a literal physical intolerance, and that means heat stroke can come on more easily. 

It’s best to make sure your kids know how to tell you when it gets to be just too much!

Common Sensitivities For Those With SPD

It is very important to understand that Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a disorder that affects the nervous system. It is the nervous system’s inability to properly organize sensory stimuli from the environment. The best way to explain how SPD works is to think about having a conversation with someone at a coffee shop. While many people are capable of tuning out background music, noise from the other patrons and can focus on having a conversation, others cannot. All the stimuli are competing for attention in the brain at once which can create anxiety and cause a sense of being overwhelmed. There’s an old adage that everyone is on the Autism spectrum – well the same can be true for SPD. Here are some common sensitivities:

Hate Getting Hair Cut – Especially in men who use razors to groom their hair, the vibration stimulates the sensation of both touch as well as sound which can be very difficult to process for people who have SPD.

Clothing Labels Annoy You – While we know there is a label in the back of our shirt, most of us are able to forget that it’s there. We’ve all had the occasional tag that has annoyed us. The difference for people suffering from SPD, they will be fixated on the label until it is resolved and not be able to focus on anything else.

New Cleaning Smells Bother You – The smell of cleaning problems, especially with those who have an olfactory sensitivity can be too much to bear. Even cleaners that are allegedly scent free can be detected by those who are ultra sensitive to smells.

Needing To Touch Things To Relax – Fidget spinners before they became a fad were actually a toy that was developed to help kids calm down when stressed. Mermaid pillows are a great example of something tactile that can help someone relax.

How To Take Kids With Sensory Processing Disorder To the Movies

Many relaxing real-world situations can become the exact opposite for children with Sensory Processing Disorder (or SPD). Everything is a little bit more difficult for parents whose children suffer from SPD because each new situation represents a question mark. School, church, and other social gatherings can be especially difficult. These places are filled with unexpected sights, smells, and sounds. What about the movies?

Some parents will inevitably avoid this activity for fear of their child experiencing sensory overload. Sometimes, there are options.

  1. Depending on where you live, it’s possible that there might be “sensory-friendly” movie screenings. These screenings are specifically for children with special needs and their parents, and it’s expected that people will be filtering in and out of the theater. The sound is turned to a lower setting than most movies, and the lights are kept on. In addition, children won’t need to feel confined. They can get out of their seat and move around all they like.
  2. A lot of kids with SPD do well with noise-canceling headphones. You can make a kit for situations just like these. What calms your child down? Put those items in the kit. A fidget spinner or silly putty sometimes works like magic.
  3. Although it might seem over-the-top, try replicating the movie theater experience at home. No, you don’t need to decorate, but it might help to dim the lights, turn up the volume, and invite a few people over for a movie night. If your child does really well in this situation, then it might be a good time to try the real thing.
  4. Your child’s needs won’t necessarily be anything like another child’s needs, so be sure to take them into consideration when choosing your child’s seat. If your child hates crowds or doesn’t like to stay seated for long periods of time, then an aisle seat near the exit might be the best way to go.
  5. Avoid going to the movies at night. Daytime movies are often less crowded, so it’s less likely you won’t be able to find the right seat for your child.
  6. Neither you nor your child should feel any obligation to stay if one of you isn’t going to have fun for the duration. Make sure your child knows that he or she has the power to tap your shoulder and leave at any time.

Misdiagnosed With Depression Or Anxiety When You Really Have Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder (or SPD) can present in a number of different ways. Its effect is different from person to person, which is one of the reasons it’s so difficult to diagnose accurately. Misdiagnosis is all too common. For example, if a child presents with depression or anxiety, he or she might be diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD). It doesn’t help that so many children who have attention deficit disorder also have sensory processing disorder.

If a misdiagnosis occurs, then the depression and anxiety won’t be alleviated until the cause of the symptoms is addressed. Many who haven’t been properly diagnosed will self-medicate, a dangerous trend in adults and children who grow up with these disorders.

Antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds won’t do a thing to treat the real cause of the depression, which can in turn compound its effects. Education is important when trying to set things right. Once properly diagnosed with the correct disorder, a patient can gradually be weaned off the wrong meds in order to receive the right ones later. Some kids with attention deficit disorder will find that stimulants help them focus or cope with, although others will find the drugs interfere with personality.

First, you’ll want to pay attention to your child’s reactions to various stimuli as they grow up. Do they have abnormal reactions to taking drugs or simple actions that involve tactile sensations like washing hair? What about walking around barefoot? Kids with SPD might not be so easy to diagnose, because they can sometimes go from one extreme to another without warning. At one point they might endure sensory overload, while at another they may desire more sensation because their senses have been dulled.

Scientists at the Sensory Processing Treatment and Research Center in Denver, Colorado, believe that over half of children with either disorder actually have both.

The earlier you can retrieve the right diagnosis and provide your child with the right occupational therapy, investigative analysis, and social training based on individual symptoms, the sooner the child will adapt to fit into society normally. Symptoms of SPD can be managed or eliminated over time, but it’s important to fight those symptoms as early as possible.

New Treatment Possible For Kids With Sensory Processing Disorder

Fragile X syndrome in children is characterized by learning and cognitive impairments and usually falls under the category of Sensory Processing Disorder (or SPD). It can leave kids mentally handicapped, but new research will provide parents with hope for their kids. According to a study done by the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, a medicine that helps regulate cyclic adenosine monophosphate (or cAMP) might help reduce or eliminate symptoms of SPD.

More than 90 percent of those on the autism spectrum will experience symptoms of SPD. This can leave patients with more or less sensitivity to sights, sounds, textures, and tastes. Patients will usually become uncomfortable or experience increased levels of agitation and anxiety.

Fragile X occurs when the corresponding mental retardation protein (FMRP) is deficient because of a gene mutation. This mutation leads to a variety of problems–obstacles that kids and their parents must learn to navigate around. In the study, scientists used fruit flies to find out whether or not pharmacological options might pose a solution. The mutated fruit flies experienced an improved response time versus normal flies.

The medicines that might eventually be used to help those with fragile X syndrome are well known among the medical community. Dipyridamole is typically used to help relieve patients who have blood clots, and lithium is a controversial yet powerful drug used to combat bipolar disorder or extreme depression. Lithium can also be used in conjunction with a number of other drugs to treat schizophrenia and other mental disorders. That these drugs might also help those with SPD was previously unknown.

Because there are a number of genes linked to the autism spectrum and SPD in general, a lot of research focuses on how to manage symptoms instead of how to eliminate them altogether. Right now researchers would like to conduct human trials to see how fragile X patients respond to drugs that regulate cAMP signaling.

October was Sensory Awareness Month, so this ray of light couldn’t have come at a better time. This is a great time to raise awareness for those suffering from SPD or similar behavioral and developmental disorders through outreach, fundraising, donation, and personal involvement.

Treating SPD With Therapy

Considering there are over 8 different senses and three different subtypes of SPD, a child diagnosed with the disorder has their own set of unique needs and challenges. Once it is determined which senses are over and/or under sensitive, working with a PRP therapy Tampa can help generate a plan to make life easier for you and your child.

Most of the time your child will be working with an occupational therapist that will help retrain their senses. Sensory Integration involves play, sensory stimulating activities in an effort to bring positive feelings that the child can associate in other environments. This is sometimes referred to as a sensory diet, where activities and exercises are introduced to the child in a safe controlled manner in order to discover new sensations.

This type of approach can be very helpful for physical therapy, vision therapy, and listening therapy as well as psychotherapy and speech therapy. This is all based on the theory of neuroplasticity or the belief that the brain can change.

A good occupational therapist will then help you take these techniques and apply them at your home through a process called sensory organizing. An example of this is establishing a routine that mitigates sensory exposure by breaking down each thing into small easy to accomplish steps.

There are many other “life hacks” that are easy to implement to make life more comfortable for your child including:

  • sound blocking headphones
  • sunglasses in bright areas
  • tag free clothing
  • sneaking in nutritious foods into meals

For more information on treating your child with SPD by using therapy, feel free to contact us for more information.

 

BROADWAY FOR THE MASSES IS NOW A TRUE REALITY

Broadway musicals are not just for the elite who can afford them in New York City. There is the belief that everyone w2hould have access to and be able to enjoy the arts – especially musical theater.

But for a long time, the masses have not meant those with certain sensory disadvantages. That has started to change of late, and one theater in particular has stepped up to help make Broadway musicals truly more accessible to more people.

We take you to the Wharton Center, a performing-arts facility in Lansing, Michigan, where it has put together what are called “sensory friendly” performances of plays in the past, including “cat in the Hat.” The next step was reached when a Broadway play, “Disney’s Lion King” developed its own sensory friendly performance for various children with sensory issues and/or listed on the autism spectrum.

Broadway plays are often a challenge for those with sensory disadvantages, as the performances are often loud and have either very dark or very bright lights, and there are often unexpected events that occur. The Wharton Center had a special sensory friendly performance one afternoon in July, and they helped young patrons adapt to the new environment.

These sensory friendly performances differ a bit from the more traditional performances in that they adapt lighting, sound and other effects to fit the more sensitive patrons, and also provide opportunities for patrons to preview the performance and learn about the play, what happens during these events and what they can expect when they arrive for the show. All of this is designed to provide the entire spectacle of a Broadway play but without all the overwhelming sensations that could paralyze children and others with sensory disadvantages.

The Wharton Center would prepare for the sensory-friendly performances by inviting ticketholders to an open house prior to the even, where children can see the theater, know where they are sitting, and they are introduced to cases members and are shown costumes and told about the story of the play so the children will know what to expect when they arrive.

According to feedback from some parents, these extra steps that the Wharton Center takes makes these performances fun for everyone in the family, where event eh children reported having a good time and enjoying the experience of a Broadway play.

Broadway musicals are cultural phenomena that people of all ages should have the opportunity to experience and enjoy for their theatrical power, musical scores and brilliant acting – they are the ultimate in the theatrical arts and can be emotional, uplifting experiences that promote the arts for children. Every effort should be made to allow even the most sensitive and vulnerable of us to enjoy the theater and all it has to offer for our spirits and souls, as that is what gives us the joy of life.

 

Can A Child Outgrow Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory Processing Disorder, also known as SPD, is a condition in which the brain struggles to properly respond to information taken in by the senses. Often, this results in people with the disorder being overly sensitive to things in their environment. Normal sounds and textures can be painful or overwhelming to those with SPD. For example, merely touching a shirt or a piece of velvet can trigger this pain. As a result, people with SPD may be uncoordinated, hard to converse with, or even unable to tell where their limbs are in space.

Typically, sensory processing issues are identified in children, although adults can have them as well. Sensory Processing Disorder is frequently seen in children who have other conditions like autism spectrum disorder. Much like autism spectrum, the symptoms of this disorder exist on a spectrum. However, unlike autism, it is possible for the child to outgrow this disorder. Let’s examine the different possible cases for someone with SPD.

In the less severe cases, a child may just have an immature sensory system. Thus, he or she will be able to outgrow it as they develop and their sensory system matures. However, sometimes the disorder is permanent, and the child must learn to develop coping strategies. Such strategies can include social withdrawal, or other, healthier things like swimming to reduce this stress.

Unfortunately, Sensory Processing Disorder is not being fully researched and recognized by the health care community. Many feel that there is no real hardcore evidence of this disorder. Thus, without concrete evidence it can be difficult to study and quantify the symptoms and causes of SPD. However, there have been some studies done, that found similarities between ADHD and SPD. A child with SPD often faces similar symptoms as one with AHDD — restless, easily distracted, impulsive, forgetful, and more. However, symptoms like a desire to swing or spin and a fear of walking on grass are unique to SPD.

Although SPD share similarities with ADHD, the traditional ADHD medications do not work on those with SPD. Rather, a child with SPD needs to work with an occupational therapist to reduce or remove their symptoms. Treatment ranges from swinging on a trapeze to touching Play Doh, all activities that stimulate the senses. After around a month of such treatment, most children will start to feel more comfortable and even physically stronger. For some, this treatment needs to last for years in order to show progress. Overall, it is possible to remedy or outgrow SPD, although it is a case by case situation.

Tips For Children Who Are Uncomfortable In Their Clothing

Kids who take off their close because it’s uncomfortable is not just rebellion. For those who suffer from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) certain tactile sensations can be extremely irritating and uncomfortable to the point where the child might prefer to be naked. while that is not a long-term solution, these tips can help get your children who are suffering from SPD to wear clothes:

Buy Sensory Friendly Clothing 

What used to be only available in specialty boutiques or online retailers, big box store’s like Target are having more sensory friendly clothing available through their Cat & Jack line. The clothing has flat seams and no tags. Zappdos has partnered with PBS to also offer sensory-friendly clothing with loose necklines, flat seams, and tags that dissolve in water. Undergarments can be purchased through SmartKnitKids who specialize in seam-free underwear and socks.

At Home Let Them Be Free 

While children need to wear clothes when they leave the house when they home are home it is acceptable to allow them to take their clothes off. This way they associate outside of the home with clothes and no in order to leave the house they must put clothes on.

Routines 

If your child struggles getting dressed in the morning, try having them select which clothes to wear the night before. Sometimes by giving them power and responsibility of selecting an outfit, it will not be a fight in the morning. Also, start the morning routine earlier to allow more time.

 

Tips to Road Trips with Sensory Kids

Going on road trips with children that do not have sensory processing disorder can be a challenge in itself. Now, tack on the needs of a child with sensory processing disorder. You’re probably anxiety stricken at even the thought of a road trip. While going on vacation is fun, you don’t want to overload your child nor do you want to cause him/her any harm. With the help of Sensory Mom Secrets and ilslearningcenter.com, we were able to put together a list of tips and tricks to make your road trip enjoyable.

Tips for Road Trips When a Child has SPD

Any children can grow impatient on a road trip. Even if your child does not have sensory processing disorder, this list will help keep any child calm in the back seat.

  • New Movies, TV Shows, Games, and Apps
    • The portable electronic device is a blessing in disguise for parents of all children. Load up your device with new content like movies, tv shows, or games that your child likes. This will take their attention off the road and help pass the time. It is important to keep in mind that you will want to limit the consumption of technology to avoid a sensory overload that makes come with prolonged exposure.
    • Travel at Night
      • Traveling at night is can’t always be done, but if you can travel at night, we recommend doing so. Generally, at night there is less going on, therefore, there is less for your child to process. Also, you can give the kids dinner in the car, let them watch a show, then put them to bed; just as you would at home. The biggest factor will be keeping your child with SPD comfortable. If she/he has a favorite blanket, toy, or stuffed animal, bring it with you, it could make a worlds difference.
    • Give the Kids a Break
      • If you are taking a long road trip, it is likely you will have to stop for a bathroom break every once in a while. When you are planning your trip, schedule in some breaks for the children to burn energy. This will not only tire them out, but it will relieve the stress of being trapped in a car.
    • Plan Out Bathroom Breaks Before you Leave the House
      • Children with sensory processing disorder can be very picky when it comes to which bathrooms they will use. Often, the condition of the bathroom (how it smells, the lighting) can weigh in on if your child will enter the bathroom. If there is a store along the way your child is familiar with, try to find one along the route.
    • Pack some snacks
      • While we can stop anywhere for food, as you already know, your child with SPD may not be able to. You know best what foods will react well with your child. Pack foods ahead of time to avoid any reluctance to eat.

We hope that these tips make your next road trip a blast. Always remember, to drive safe and avoid drinking alcohol before driving. If you are however pulled over for a DUI and are driving through the state of Georgia, contact  Gwinnett County DUI attorneys for representation.