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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.

Best Sports for Kids with SPD

Children with Sensory Processing Disorder often struggle with identifying different sensations that the body comes in contact with. Depending on the type of SPD your child has, different sensors can be affected. For example, if your child’s SPD effects their vision, they may struggle to identify colors, lights, shapes, and sizes. Sensory Processing Disorder can affect all walks of life. It can affect a child’s learning ability, social life, productivity, and daily life in general.

There are multiple therapies that can help a child cope with this diagnosis. One of the more fun options is participating in athletic activities. After doing some research, we were able to compile a list of sports that parents feel helped their child the most.

Swimming

Swimming is great because directly affects all of the child’s senses at once. They can feel the water from their head to their toes. Also, there are tons of visual cues and movements. It’s a fun activity that will also teach them the importance of safety.

Martial Arts

Sometimes, SPD can have an effect on the emotional self-control of a child. This can rear the ugly head of SPD; leading to aggressive outbreaks. Martial arts will help your child learn self-control. The combative sport will teach your child how to control their bodies and mind.

Wrestling

Like martial arts, wrestling is a great way for your child to learn self-control. At the same time, wrestling provides a way for your child to burn physical energy. Wrestling is a great brain exercise as your child will have to come up with a strategy to defeat their opponent.

Gymnastics

As with the other sports we have mentioned, gymnastics is great for any child, not just a child with SPD. Although, your child with SPD may struggle with following instructions. If this is the case, you can ask for open gym time. During this time, the gym will be less crowded and your child can freestyle.

Yoga

Like the other activities we mentioned, Yoga is great because it’s a peaceful and calming environment that teaches focus all while requiring a lot of physical output. Yoga is great for your child’s body. It will build strength, increase flexibility, and straighten posture.

When you are looking for activities for your child, try to find those that affect all of the child’s senses. You want to put your child in a place where they can not only succeed, but learn valuable skills that can be applied to all walks of life.

Helping Your Picky Eater

Have you ever asked your child to try something and without hesitation, your child has determined that he or she hates it despite the fact he or she has never tried it before? The reason that this occurs might be surprising but it’s very common. It has to do with food texture. Even adults find themselves enjoying the flavor or something but also can’t stand the texture of the food.

Where does this aversion to food texture come from and how can we use this knowledge to help your picky eater? Food texture issues stem from a delay or oral motor skills such as movement of the tongue to push the food to the sides of the mouth so one can easily chew. When a child suffers from delayed oral motor skills, it makes some things very difficult to chew. The child remembers this type of food caused distress and if they put something in the mouth that has a similar mouth feel they will automatically spit it out or begin to gag. Over time, they will refuse to eat foods that they think will be difficult to chew and therefore become a “picky eater”.

There are several ways to help encourage your child to try new textures and to eat new foods. The first method is to help them get used to the texture in general. For example, if your child doesn’t like eating mushy foods like mashed potatoes then have them play with mushy textures throughout the day like playdoh. This gets them used to the texture and it won’t seem as off-putting when it comes to mealtime. Another method is sort of like exposure therapy. Have a side of vegetables with every meal will get your child used to them on the plate. Do not force your child to eat them. Sooner or later they are more likely to at least try them. The key is to be patient and let your child discover the flavor on their own. We recommend having at least 2 to 3 different textures on the plate. For example “chewy” meat, “mushy” potatoes and “textured” vegetables.

One other important thing to know is to not reward your kids with food. Even if your kid eats all their vegetables it doesn’t mean that they should get a piece of cake. Conversely, don’t offer them cake if they eat all their vegetables. It’s important for kids to learn to eat without reward.

For more advice we recommend the following article:
https://www.romper.com/p/food-texture-aversion-in-toddlers-7-ways-to-help-your-picky-eater-8249053

Transitioning To Winter

The transition from fall to winter with kids with sensory processing disorder can be extremely overwhelming. It can be overwhelming for anyone regardless if they have a disorder or not. Especially this year with the weather yo-yo-ing from hot to cold throughout the week, being prepared to help your child transition from day to day can make your morning routine go smoother.

The Layered Effect

Heavy coats are usually deemed unwearable by kids with SPD. They are too bulky and can feel uncomfortable. The best course of action is to dress your child in soft layers. On especially cold days start with a thermal, then long sleeved shirt, then a sweatshirt and then a hoodie. The fabric should be something that your child likes to wear such as cotton or flannel. You can even have them pick out clothes that they like to wear from other seasons (such as their favorite hoodie from fall or their favorite long sleeved shirt from spring) and have them create the layered outfit.

Portable Hand Warmers

Some children with SPD will flat out refuse to wear gloves or mittens. By adding portable hand warmers in their pockets, they can keep their hands in their pockets without the sensation that they can’t touch anything or feel stifled by an uncomfortable fabric on their hands.

Practice Makes Perfect

One of the ways to get children with SPD to cooperate it to practice and plan. By having your child sit in a warm coat or by placing his hands in gloves for a few minutes each day can help give them exposure to what is upcoming. This way when the winter does come, it’s not as traumatizing as putting them into a coat for the first time.

Soft Clothing

Before putting the clothing on the child, be sure to give it a wash with fabric softener to help make the clothing feel appealing. Also make sure you remove any hidden tags (especially in gloves) that would feel irritating.

Having a child with SPD can be so overwhelming but these are a few tips and tricks that you can do to help make the transitions from warm weather to cold weather easier.

Sensory Processing Disorder During Christmas

Everyone knows that the holidays can be rather chaotic in and of themselves. The coming and going of relatives, the seemingly eternal bustle of shopping and preparing for Christmas, and the perception that there is never enough time in a day to get everything done. For many people, despite the holidays being a time of good cheer and merriment, they are more often filled with stress and tight schedules to make sure that everything gets done in an orderly fashion – if it gets done in any fashion at all.

For those who have even weightier troubles, such as sensory processing disorder, Christmas time and the holidays in general can be an absolute nightmare. Daily schedules are all but abandoned as people attempt to coordinate plans for getting together, people are in and out with what appears to be no rhyme or reason, and a lot of what makes Christmas so stressful for people is navigating among everyone else in the outside world who are also trying to get their holidays absolutely perfect. For those with SPD, this can be especially hectic. So for those who are trying to coordinate a happy holiday as well as accommodate the needs of someone with SPD (and they are important to accommodate), here are a few holiday tips to consider:

First and foremost, don’t be afraid to acclimate Christmas to your child’s needs. If your child has specific eating habits or may very likely reject Christmas dinner somewhere else, you should feel encouraged to have a meal specifically catered to him or her. It is also a good idea to arrange the personal atmosphere that best suits your child’s needs. Noise canceling headphones are a good idea, or if your child uses an iPad or other electronic device to serve as distraction, it would be in your best interest to have it on hand if you are going out to visit family or friends. Make sure to bring a weighted blanket and sensory tools as well. Should you feel the need to keep Christmas small for your child, do not hesitate. It is okay to limit visitors with time limits so as not to overwhelm your child, or even just to have Christmas with your immediate family to keep things simple. And while on the topic of simple, be mindful of things that impact the senses; try to keep aromas, noises or music, and lights as minimal as possible.

Try to avoid bringing your child to shop whenever possible; crowds of people in stores and malls can be disconcerting. If you are faced with the need to bring your child into public situations where he or she may feel less at ease, it is important to make them aware of these situations in advance. Reading social stories can be a good way to prepare your child for upcoming events so they will not feel as put upon as they might without warning. Visiting Santa can also be prearranged; many malls accommodate children with sensory processing disorders, so scheduling visits in advance could work to everyone’s benefit. Be aware of warning signs should your child start to feel uncomfortable as well, and don’t be ashamed of withdrawing from a situation for the benefit of your child. It may also be beneficial to stretch Christmas over a period of days. Normally, Christmas involves a lot of traveling, a lot of people, a lot of presents, and a lot to take in. Allowing a child to open a few presents a day as opposed to everything at one time could make the holidays pass more easily. So don’t be afraid to stretch the celebration from one or two intense days to several days of calmer festivities.

Finally, it is important to praise your child for good behavior and for coping with what might be stressful situations. Allow for periods of time where they can be expressive: running, jumping, twirling, whatever they may do. And make sure to keep separate space for them to calm down should the need arise. Try as we might, there are almost always pockets of time when Christmas becomes overwhelming for all of us. Accommodating this need beforehand for your child could save them some unwanted reactions. But, most of all, make sure that Christmas suits your family entirely. It doesn’t need to be like everyone’s Christmas as long as you are enjoying yourselves and the time you have together.