What Sensory Processing Looks Like in Our Home

It's not something that I've mentioned before. I cautiously examine the details I share online about my kids, mostly to protect their privacy. Certain stories are fun to share and the regular mommy bloopers are fine but something as personal as this I have been hesitant with.

One of the reasons I did decide to share is because Sensory Processing Disorder is often missed or mistaken for "just being a kid". This too is what I tried to tell myself at her 2 year developmental screening. It was recommended that we seek further evaluation and I laughed and thought how crazy with just a 10 question survey.

Sensory struggles don't just occur with over-stimulation. In many of our instances it occurs with under-stimulation (Hypo-sensitivity). This means that the child is craving more input than what would normally be needed.

It can come in the form of putting everything in her mouth. This comes with licking cars, doorknobs, feet, and more.

It's in the way that she talks and gets frustrated because we still have a hard time making out her words with her language delay.

It's having to break down simple steps each and every time, such as putting on her shoes, because of poor motor planning.

It's the rough house playing and jumping on a trampoline all day to get her energy out in time for bed.

It's doing things impulsively that shows her lack of safety.

It's the screaming in the middle of the night from night terrors even though she is not awake.

It's the fear that she will one day walk out the front door and get lost.

Sound Familiar? This is just the tip of the iceberg.

As I sit here now, after our 4th meltdown of the day (just before bed is a common meltdown) I can hear her start the nightly unwinding. I can hear the grunting and deep breaths as she slowly wears herself out with her repetitious movement. I hear the little pounding of her feet as she jumps up and down in place with a dead stare up to the ceiling. Then she drops it down for her hand gestures on the ground like she is scratching, which is then brought up to her face. She likes to start a gallop next. Back and forth twice and she starts the routine all over again.

Normally you wouldn't think much of a child hopping up and down or galloping back and forth. It's the hand gestures that people notice. It's the intense look she gives them as she puts all of her energy into that movement. That's what draws their stare. She will do this routine for as long as she needs. Sometimes it's just for a couple seconds other times it will last an hour. There is no stopping this behavior. This is called stereotypical behavior and it doesn't just happen before bed. It happens all day long. It's noticeable worse when we're off schedule. 

Schedule is extremely important.

If I had known better, she would have gotten the help she needed. We would have been more educated on how we could help her. We could have changed the way we disciplined her realizing that by not understanding we were only causing more anxiety and self esteem issues in our little girl.

It's a journey and very much a learning experience. I call her my little sensory puzzle as we discover new things about her everyday. It's helpful to understand your child better and realize they are not intentionally careless but their body can't help but be floppy and uncoordinated.

Their actions are not purposefully disobedient. 

I no longer repeatedly holler at my daughter to sit up right in the middle of her chair because I can understand that she constantly needs one foot touching the ground to feel secure and sometimes her short little legs can't do that the way I want her to sit. Each night when I check on her before I would turn down, I would always have to pick her up off the floor as her legs would hang over the bed. Now we have a fun tent in the corner of her room as we learned she is more comfortable sleeping on the floor. Hard surfaces help her sleep better through the night.

It's the little things that you don't even think are things until you realize how they can emotionally impact your child's development. 

This is why I am sharing with you today because this is often misunderstood and goes undiagnosed. Kids are often thought of as problem children and they don't get the help they deserve. It's even harder when they are school aged. As a parent you know your child the best and if you feel in your gut that something is off don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I've heard things like...

"just being a kid?"

"In my day we did exactly that"

"She just has a lot of energy"

"All kids are clumsy"

"She doesn't understand boundaries"

"You are not disciplining her enough"

Imagine if you were a kid who did things that no one understood but you couldn't help yourself. Then imagine getting yelled at day in and day out and feeling so alone. Yeah, my mommy guilt set in! When were finally realized I felt so awful for how we were so blind to her needs.

Don't get me wrong, my child is still a bad a$$ tough girl and she is super smart, but she also needs a little help too.

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Posted on April 12, 2016 and filed under Parenting, Raising Girls, Happy Mama.