Teenager Suffering From Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder Goes Blind

Children who suffer from sensory processing disorder (SPD) are often diagnosed with other disorders as well. One such disorder called avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is being blamed for causing a teen to go blind because he was not comfortable eating a wide range of nutritious foods. Children are known for their picky eating habits, so what signs should a parent watch out for when determining a child’s diet?

Many children with ARFID are turned off by various textures, smells, colors, etc., and refuse to eat most foods. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies and lethargy — or in this case, blindness.

About 5 percent of children — mostly boys — are affected by ARFID. The disorder affects kids more often than adults, who usually grow past the picky eating habits. 

How might a parent recognize the disorder in their own child? The following symptoms might be displayed: 

  • Slow eating
  • Will not gain weight
  • Reduced sociability
  • Eating habits not the result of poor body image
  • No obvious physical or mental illness

For many parents, the lack of a wide array of symptoms can make diagnosis difficult or impossible, especially when the case of ARFID is mild.

According to a report published in England’s Annals of Internal Medicine, the 14-year-old who lost his eyesight was severely vitamin deficient. His weight was normal for his age, but likely only because the foods he ate were highly processed and high-fat, such as chips, bread, pork, and fries.

The study’s authors said, “The researchers concluded that the patient’s ‘junk food’ diet and limited intake of vitamins and minerals resulted in the onset of nutritional optic neuropathy.” 

Dr. Sejal Parekh of ABC News said, “His doctors did initially diagnose him with mild nutritional deficiencies, specifically Vitamin B12, and prescribed the right shots.”

The boy did not complete the assigned regimen.

Many victims of ARFID have physical symptoms no one would connect with the disorder, and that was initially the case for the boy. He was eventually diagnosed, but not before his vision was beyond repair.

Parekh said, “ARFID differs from anorexia in that it is not driven by body image or weight concerns. ARFID can be recognized in child with other sensory processing disorders and autism.”

Other complications of ARFID include anxiety disorders, developmental delays, gastrointestinal diseases, and low weight. Treatment includes meal coaching, food exposure therapy, education, counseling, and behavioral therapies. This might occur in the home, or patients may be hospitalized.

What Is “Sensory Day” At The Ohio State Fair?

The world is becoming a much more inclusive place for those of us who have special needs, even as a lot of people still believe that vaccinations cause autism (hint: they don’t. But failing to vaccinate your children might result in a short life for your kid and others). The Ohio State Fair knows that a lot of the kids who visit each year fall into the category of those who require a little extra help to adapt to the rest of us, which is why it hosted a “Sensory Day” on Wednesday, July 31. Hopefully other organizations will follow this example.

The fair has organized a day without flashing lights or music, and tried to cut down on loud sounds as well. The Ohio State Fair also tried to organize more streamlined parking to get kids to the fun festivities that much faster. Long lines moved fast.

Director Shawn Henry of the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence said: “If you are overwhelmed and need a break, you can go in the quiet room. We’ll have fidgets and other items just to make the environment something that’s inviting, that’s relaxing, then, you can go back out and enjoy other activities.”

The hope is that the Ohio State Fair will draw more attention as perhaps the most inclusive event in the country. General Manager Virgil Strickler said: “The Ohio State Fair isn’t just about food and rides. It is about community. We want to make the fair as enjoyable as possible for all Ohioans, and Sensory Friendly Morning is one way we can achieve that goal.”

In order to increase enjoyment for all attendees, the space was reorganized with prompts that help everyone get to their next ride a little bit faster. The schedule was presented visually to help people find the right ride at the right time. 

Up to sixteen percent of young children may suffer from a sensory processing disorder, although many parents and doctors still fail to diagnose these concerns. Those kids who are affected may not respond to touch, sound, or visual stimuli the same way the rest of us do. They can become very sensitive to strange patterns of unfamiliar environments, and may be easily distracted when those situations present.

Hopefully the Ohio State Fair’s new considerations will make it easier for parents to enjoy the day with their children who have special needs in the future as well, which should result in a great experience for many summers to come!

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.