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Sensory processing disorder and autism
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Sensory processing disorder and autism

My son is 3 years old and has SPD but I am wondering if he can also have autism spectrum disorder.  He was born at 28 weeks and 2days and was fine concerning his health due to my receiving steroid shots twice prior to his birth but he does have some speech delay which has improved a great deal in the last couple of months being to express his feelings more.  Part of my concerns with autism are his walking on his tippie toes at times, drooling, and his aggressive behavior.  He will kick or punch when he isn't getting his way and will need to be told several times to do something and he will focus on things that he will ignore anyone when being spoken to.
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325405_tn?1262293778
If he was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, you should bring your concerns up with his doctor.  Sensory issues are huge problem parts for kids.  Transitioning between activities also partly falls under the sensory processing category -- self regulating behavior.  I have found that with my 3 year old, we have to give her warnings for when to switch activities.  She also has sensory issues that I have to be aware of what will set her off.  Sometimes she can also get overstimulated -- and she seeks some of that over stimulation too.  If she is way too overstimulated her behavior goes way downhill.  Keeping her sensory processing in tact and respecting what bothers her and what she avoids and what she craves and trying to get her a healthy "sensory diet" so to speak is essential for keeping her with good behavior.  She sometimes ignores me when I talk to her but I also know that if she is engaged in another activity, she really does not hear me.  My husband is sort of the same way.  He doesn't have autism, but I know he gets into something he gets into something and a 10 alarm fire could be going on around him and he wouldn't notice if he's that into something else.  I think he has some sensory processing issues.  I have a ton myself and actually was diagnosed with SPD as an adult (about a year ago).  Evidently 5% of the population has some sort of sensory processing problems. Estimated.  When I was a child, I hated anyone touching my hair and hands (still do actually).  My mom instead of making me get used to combing or bathtime with the hair washing let it all slide because she couldn't cope.  She gave me a monthly bath when I was a baby/toddler/preschooler.  She never combed my hair and I actually didn't get it cut until I was 5.  I remember having hair down my back all the way with tons of "birds nests" in it.  My daughter hates her hair combed or cut too... I cut her hair when she's asleep and doesn't know it.  I know ways to make the hair washing and combing more tolerable.  It also helps that stores now sell no more tangles types of sprays that you can spray on the hair and it loosens the tangles out.  

Is your son getting sensory integration therapy?  Do you have things he can do to get his sensory cravings out?  We bought a trampoline from Toys R Us that was $100 that is for age 3 to 6 and has a netting on it so she won't get hurt.  That trampoline was a great investment (the developmental preschool used trampoline as part of the occupational therapy so we got one for our house).  The other thing the preschool had was a ball pit.  I bought a blow up swimming pool and bought a couple bags of those plastic balls at Toys R Us and made my own ball pit for my daughter.  The other things the preschool used for sensory things were a water table and also a table with moon sand in it.  You can make  your own things at home  if you can't afford the official types of things like that.  Moon sand is good sensory thing to play with and bury things in.  

We were also shown the brushing and joint compression techniques that the occupational therapist did.  When our daughter was 2 in the Birth to 3 program the therapist showed us.  We did it every 2 hours to start, then went down to once every 4 hours.  Now I can kind of sense when she needs it and only do it on an as needed basis.  Sometimes that is many times per day and sometimes it's only once or twice per day.  

Realizing when your son is having tantrums related to sensory processing versus tantrums to wanting his own way is also essential.  For awhile our daughter would throw fits... she's gotten much better.  She still has them.  They don't last as long anymore.  I think that also has to do with the self-regulation of emotions and behavior.  The kids get upset and they don't know how to calm down.  Sometimes you just have to let them have it out in privacy.  I've told my daughter if she wants to throw a fit she can go throw it in her room.  That works occasionally.  She'll actually go off to her room.  Big rule = no throwing or breaking things though.  Showing a child how to get rid of anger and emotions is also hard, especially with language delays.  

Things I guess with autism besides sensory processing, are delays with speech and language and also ritualistic behavior and a strict adherence to routines.  With my daughter some of it is kind of OCD like.  And if you do something one way once, usually you have to do it the same way every time.  Well, certain things.  She will have a meltdown sometimes if she has an established routine that is violated.  As long as a ritual doesn't involve someone else, we let her have her routines.  It also makes her a happy well adjusted child who can socialize and do things like go out shopping with mommy and be well-behaved.  We have our set stores and we have our routines that we keep and she is the most amazing well-behaved 3 year old out in public.  You skip part of the ritual and you have a meltdown and is the worst behaved child in public.  Do I blame her or me?  I don't know.  I'd rather go out and take her places and have her do things than be afraid to take her anywhere which one mom of a boy in my daughter's preschool class was stuck with.  She and her husband had to give up going out to eat, going shopping, etc. unless they had a sitter or one would stay home while the other went out.  She would not put up with his rigidity and routines and was constantly trying to break him of all the habits.  

Well, anyways, if your son is having meltdowns, if he has rituals or routines he must adhere to, that could be setting him off and making him aggressive.  ?? ?

I don't know so much in your son's case.  He might have a very mild case of PDD or just have SPD.  You'd have to see a specialist doctor in person and over time.  It may be several years before they accurately diagnose him if he has PDD mildly.  Or something else.  

Good luck.  Hang in there.  3 is a rough age.  And remember that if your child has language delays, he might be going through the terrible twos a year late... with a year more of intelligence and a year more of height and weight... not a great combination... we found that with our daughter... she is starting to pull out of the terrible twos only now at 3 1/2.
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574101_tn?1245540620
Frist of all I have have alot of ??????  so realy
i do not know anything  but he sound a lot like my son who has ???/no sensory processing disorder but does have adhd///// the dr have put him on Ritalin  witch I had a hard time doing he able to  focus he sleeps all night he stop hiting
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for sharing your experiences about your daughter.  My son doesn't act up too much when a routine is broken at home as he might have at daycare.  He currently has an appointment for a diagnosis for autism spectrum.  He is in OT and speech therapy for his SPD.  Essentially as any kid when you tell them no he doesn't like it but he will hit or kick and there are times with other children he does not want them around him he will tell them to leave and other times he will hit or push without reason, just impulsively do this.  He has to be told a couple of times to do something before he is willing to do it.  When he is focused he is focused too, when someone tries to get his attention he will not look up.  He does ok in public but not what I wluld say well behaved at times.  He will want something in the store and gets eally upset when he told he can't have it.  I usually end up bribing him either with a sweet treat or a toy he has at home.  I distract his mind one way or the other.  Now I tell him before we get into a store not to ask for anything.  When he's told thinga ahead of time he's better.

What is the sensory diet you are speaking of?
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973741_tn?1342346373
Hi, I also have a sensory son.  He is now 5 and it has been a long road!  One thing that can make a child with sensory issues walk on tip toes is sensory defensiveness.  If it is primarily when he is barefoot that he is doing this, that could be the case.  (he doesn't like the way things feel on his feet---- ever hear about a kid who wouldn't walk through the grass barefoot---- that type of thing.)  My son is (really was as the defensiveness has almost disappeared since we started OT)  sensative with his hands.  He couldn't stand to get his hands wet but he also is a sensory seeker.  It can be very confusing and every child is different with their diagnosis.  Your child is still young---  impulse control is not yet at full speed and at 5 we still struggle with this.  He has difficulty regulating himself and it makes a meltdown even worse because his nervous system doesn't let him get over things quickly.  The world from a sensory kid's perspective is a tough place and I always try to remember as tough as it seems to me dealing with him when things are bad----  it feels even worse to him.  It is a difficult task, however, to tell what is sensory and what is a kid being a kid-----  ie:  crying to get something.  That is one of those things that I think the more we give into, the more they'll do the behavior.  It works, right?  But a sensory meltdown is usually under the circumstance of feeling overwhelmed, something bothering them that is going on, etc.  But that is for you to decide what is sensory or kid stuff.  A sensory diet are the things that you do throughout the day to help keep your child's nervous system calm and working as best it can.  It includes for my son lots of physical activity, "heavy work" (like climbing, swimming, carrying something heavy like laundry, etc.), calming activities---- swinging and deep pressure, laying on our belly for activities, eating apple sauce through a straw (amazing how the oral things are so calming and organizine for my son!), etc.  Talk to your OT about this.  Also, your school system if you live in the states should have a preschool program that he may qualify for that addresses special needs.  Speech issues alone may qualify you.  As far as autism, I don't know.  It sounds like he'd be high functioning.  He can play, right?  He pretends and will sometimes interact with others?  Does he look you in the eye?  Does he have any ritualistic behaviors---  arm flapping or rocking? A full eval sounds like a good idea.  Good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for sharing your experience as well.  My son will walk on tippie toes in his shoes so I don't know if that could be it but on the other hand my mom said I used to do the same and they would say I'm going to be a ballerina and as far as I know I didn't have SPD or autism spectrum disorder.  He does pretend play and will look me in the eye as well as interact with others.  I haven't seen any ritualistic behaviors such as arm flapping or rocking.  He will be getting assessed next onth so we'll see.  I just feel like if he does have autism spectrum disorder along with SPD then all my hopes for him to have a normal life will be gone.  I feel that he won't ever reach a high level of anything he will just be a statistic.
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973741_tn?1342346373
I want to tell you that I'm really sorry that you're feeling this way----  I've been there.  I had a very sad period as I accepted my son's disorder and tried to figure out what that meant for his future.  Without meeting, seeing your child and just based on what you've written----  my gut tells me he does not have autism.  The tippie toes aside, the other things you describe are characteristic of sensory integration disorder.  There is something called fight or flight which can cause a child to have an extreme reaction to something that is bothering his senses (my child reacted terribly to wet hands) as well as self regulation/modulation.   This piece of sensory is in my opinion one of the most difficult to deal with because it causes behavior such as you describe.  I also find myself deciding if my child is having a regular kid fit (yuck) or a sensory issue----  your son is still only 3 after all.  But the self regulation for my son has caused major tantrums----  if frustrated he can no calm himself and control his impulses.  It is getting better.  In fact, having a 5 year old----  I will tell you that he functions pretty well.  He may never be just like every kid in his class---  but he blends in better every day.  Honestly, many people now have no idea about his disorder as we've found ways for him to cope and fit in.  The pretend play, interaction with others, and eye contact are key to knowing it may not be autism.  I have a nephew with aspergers----  his interaction with kids his own age at 3 was VERY limited, while being very smart, he could only discuss his key areas of interest----  "the little professor" way of talking, and eye contact was minimal.  This doesn't sound like your son.  Your son's future is very bright, having a loving mother and family will make all the difference in his life.  You're doing a great job confronting issues early and trying get answers and help.  That makes your son very lucky to have you.  Good luck and let me know how things go!
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Avatar_n_tn
I have not been on here since this last comment.  My son is now 5 years old and when we took him to be evaluated not only was he not diagnosed with autism, he wasn't diagnosed with SPD either.  We still have him in OT and Speech therapy bc it can't hurt and as a matter of fact he is very intelligent and funny.  He has improved a great deal.  We sent him to a preschool that did such a wonderful job with him and now he is in kindergarten.  This will be the true test to see if he has anything at all bc he does have trouble focusing and listening but I don't know if that can be a kid thing or something else.  He easily gives up on tasks especially when learning something new he will say he can't do it.  We have already taken steps into telling him I can't needs to be out of his vocabulary bc when he says it he is doing the task, clearly able to do it but he says it automatically without even trying first.  We will see.  
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Avatar_n_tn
One thing the doctors said when he was evaluated was he needed an environment that is structured and patient.  Thus, we pulled him out of the day care he was in and placed him in one of the best preschools in our city.  It's a shame it takes money to make sure your kid will be ok bc unless your child is diagnosed with something which he wasn't then the services are not there for you and everything comes out of your pocket.
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