I have a 5 year old son who has been exhibiting some sensory issues such as a heightened sense of smell and refusal to wear collar shirts and shorts with buttons. When he complains of an odor, it is usually not noticable to us. He can get extremely distressed over smells and will scream and cry and carry on until he is removed from the situation. Additionally, he has a high level of frustration when he is unable to perform a task such as tying his shoes or when he is unable to put his Legos together. He will literally fall apart to the point of a meltdown and will lash out at me by hitting and calling me "nasty" or saying it is my fault. However, I must point out that he only has these meltdowns at home or around relatives or people he knows very well.
He just started kindergarten this year and is doing quite well. He has adjusted beautifully, and exhibits no behavior problems at school, nor did he ever have any problems at preschool. He seems very happy when he returns home from school and is excited to tell me about his day. Another important thing to mention is that he has an older brother (10) who was diagnosed with Aspergers/PDD at the age of 3.
I've read that siblings of children with autism can sometimes have related issues such as ADHD or sensory processing issues. I have contemplated having him evaluated by a developmental ped, but not sure if it is necessary at this point, since he seems to be functioning quite well outside of the home environment. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!
I have sensory issues. Had them when I was a child and have them still as an adult. Back then, there was no therapy. My husband also had some sensory issues as a child. He grew out of his. I never outgrew mine.
My daughter was diagnosed with PDD and has sensory issues as well, though she has been going through sensory integration therapy for the last two years and many of her sensory issues are being resolved. I'm in my late 30s, and at this point, there are some things that can help me (I saw an occupational therapist who also did adults for a few sessions and got some advice). Anyways, if kids have sensory issues, the earlier they get therapy, the quicker it evidently gets resolved. I've heard that even starting as late as puberty can make a huge difference. I've tried the same techniques my daughter has done on her... no effect over months. The OT told me that once you are an adult, your brain is wired, and that some techniques will work but will take longer and not be as effective. So, if your son has sensory issues that affect and impact how he lives his day-to-day life, if he has a chance to change that, give him that chance. I wish my sense of hearing weren't so sensitive. Hearing my husband breathe at night drives me up the wall. I hear the refrigerator run. Sometimes I hear the electricity run through things like the alarm clock. I can not tune these things out. And I hate anything touching my head, hair, or ears, so I am not able to put ear plugs in my ears without me clawing them out during my sleep or even while I'm awake. Not that I would probably ever get to sleep if I had something in my ears. And smells also get to me. Some visual stuff gets to me. Some of my inlaws wonder why our walls don't have pictures hung up all over. I really dislike visual clutter. Which most people think you should decorate your house with bright colors and bright wall paintings and that sort of thing so your kids' minds can develop creatively. I would go nuts living in a house like that, or even having their room like that, at least while they are very young and I have to go in there to watch them play and play with them. I also can not do parties. Or sporting events, which meant missing out on football and basketball and those sorts of things during high school and college. Not just the amount of people, but the noise that crowds generate. Too much visual stuff to process as well.
Anyways, I think there is an estimate of 10% of the population having sensory issues of some sort. I am not sure how many of those people are impacted enough to make their every day lives changed. I know that mine certainly is. And I learned to hide it. It has created some tension between my husband and myself over the years. And I am too chicken to talk to my friends about it because people seem to just think you should pop a pill and get over it. First off, I used to pop a pill (certain anti-depressants seem to help sensory issues and anxiety from them) but pills like that can lead to weight gain and other side effects that I'd rather just not deal with. And even then popping a pill would just take the edge off.
So, I guess my long response is that, your son might just have a sensory processing disorder without the PDD. I don't have autism or PDD. But I have had meltdowns on occasion because I can't deal with a situation, though as an adult they happen rarely in public. Learning coping mechanisms is essential. Learning to hold off and get out and find a private place to cope is also a good learning thing. If I had someone to help me get over my sensory issues, I would love to turn back the clock and have it done. Though on the other hand, sometimes having heightened senses is a good benefit. It's just well, the people not understanding when you can't do things because of them. Can't shop in a crowded market so you have to go during off hours. Or shop in a place that is just too big and overwhelming. Can't do sporting events or parties and people think you're either antisocial or just don't want to go to theirs. Or the church sound system is turned up just a little higher than usual and you spend most of church in the bathroom hiding out or sometimes if I don't feel well or didn't sleep well enough I can't even tolerate going to church at all because it's too loud and too many people and I can't socialize on that particular day and then the pastor thinks I'm like a big heathen or something, though I know that in the end, that issue is between God and me, not me and the pastor or the other parishioners.
Uh, right so back to the point... if you can get your son to see an occupational therapist and go with him for just a few times and learn things like joint compression therapy and brushing techniques and other sensory play techniques... It probably wouldn't require too many visits, though hopefully either your health insurance would cover it or the school system might let you consult with one of their therapists? I don't know... I wish you luck in figuring it all out.
Oh, and as an adult... swimming does amazing things for sensory issues and ADD. If you swim and do laps at a big pool (indoor YMCA is a good place), then you have the movement of water all around your body and it is great sensory input. Swimming really helps my mind be organized and also takes the edge off some of my sensory issues for a few hours afterwards. I think if I swam everyday I might see more benefit, but I'm just not able to right now.
Hi, my oldest son has sensory integration disorder. What you describe are some tactile issues and modulation issues. Most people have a sensory issue or two (like my sister can't stand turtle necks) but if one can't cope, then it is a disorder. Since your son does well in school, I'd say he is coping pretty well. Usually sensory issues are worse when a child is out of their element. However, your son may be "holding himself together" at school with sensory issues and then melting down at home. This is common. Kindergarten is a big transition for a lot of kids. My son also started kindergarten this year. My son was diagnosed with sensory last year after having a terrible time in preschool but after a year of occupational therapy, he is doing well. We were lucky to start early intervention.
You could pay for a private evaluation if you would like as it never hurts. The school may evaulate him but since he functions well at school, they will be less motivated to provide services. Here are some things you can do with your son (besides what the above poster said----- swimming is awesome and deep hugs are also deep pressure)---- get him outside to parks and playgrounds as much as possible. Get him running, jumping, climbing and swinging (calming---- we do this when my son is having modulation problems (that is what causes the meltdowns to be so severe)), skipping, just really moving and using his muscles and body. Anything that requires him to lift something (carry groceries, carry some books across the room, move a piece of furniture, push a laundry basket across the floor -- one filled with laundry) is great. Blow bubbles or drink thick liquid through a straw are both organizing and calming. My son drinks applesauce through a straw every day. There are lots of things to do that really help a senory kid (and adult? for the above poster).
For modulation/regulation issues which my son struggles with---- first, you want to try to head any known stressors off at the pass. Plan ahead if a certain situation causes meltdowns. I don't always know, so That can make it hard. Most ot's use the "how does your engine run" program. They say an engine is running too fast when a child is melting down and if you first and him later are able to catch it before the meltdown, that is the goal. We use a temperature scale---- green is just right (and being just right is always the goal), yellow is getting slightly agitated, orange is mad and red is a meltdown. We try to get him to moniter himself that ways so that he can stop himself when he starts to turn yellow and do some things to calm his nervous system himself. Currently, I watch too and make suggestions about what he should do to calm/organize himself. As far as saying mean things ("you made me do that!!"), a technique used is to "put it in a thought bubble". You can think it but it isn't okay to say it. Anyway, these are just some of a million suggestions. Good luck and I hope it all turns out alright.
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