Written by: The Green Crunchy Mother
We have learned to adapt our daily routines according to the needs of Xavier and Liam. They both have been diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder. Xavier’s diagnosis was given by a psychologist. Liam received his diagnosis by an Occupational Therapist. What is Sensory Integration Disorder?
Sensory Integration Disorder: It is a neurological disorder that was discovered forty years ago by A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D., OTR.
Symptoms of Sensory Integration Dysfunction may include (spd):
- An acute awareness of background noises
- Fascination with lights, fans, water
- Hand flapping/repetitive movements
- Spinning items, taking things apart
- Walking on tip-toe
- Little awareness of pain or temperature
- Coordination problems
- Unusually high or low activity level
- Difficulty with transitions (doesn’t “go with the flow”)
- Self-Injury or aggression
- Extremes of activity level (either hyperactive or under active ).
- Fearful in space (on the swings, seesaw or heights).
- Striking out at someone who accidentally brushes by them.
- Avoidance of physical contact with people and with certain “textures,” such as sand, paste and finger paints.
- The child may react strongly to stimuli on face , hands and feet.
- A child may have a very short attention span and become easily distracted.
- A strong dislike of certain grooming activities, such as brushing the teeth, washing the face, having the hair brushed or cut.
- An unusual sensitivity to sounds and smells.
- A child may refuse to wear certain clothes or insist on wearing long sleeves/pants so that the skin is not exposed.
- Frequently adjusts clothing, pushing up sleeves and/or pant legs.
Xavier and Liam both have “different triggers”. This means each child is affected by different things in different ways.
Liam’s triggers are:
-Clothing: this includes: hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters, underwear, socks, boots, shoes, jackets, and undershirts. He does not like the sensations, and how certain articles feel on his body. This can create a stressful situation and an instant tantrum. Liam will yell, kick, and scream until the objects are removed. I purchase soft, fleece like materials for him. This seems to cause less of a reaction when it touches his skin. Also, I give him plenty of time to get ready when he has to leave the home . For example, getting ready for school in the morning requires careful planning and lots of extra time.
-Brushing Teeth: Liam does not enjoy having his teeth brushed. The Occupational Therapist recommended that Liam should brush his own teeth, with a “Spin Brush”. This works out well for Liam. He chose a SpiderMan SpinBrush Tooth Brush. He brushes his teeth first, and I finish the job for him. Fruit flavored tooth pastes also works well. Giving Liam as much control as possible is what reduces the symptoms. We went to the store, and he chose his tooth brush and tooth paste .
-Liam has little awareness for cold temperatures. For example: he could be standing outside in freezing cold temperatures with no hat or jacket on. This issue is challenging, he frequently removes his outdoor clothing while playing outside.
– Hyper activity – Liam is in constant “moving action”. While watching TV, he obsessively runs back and forth in front of the TV. At the same time, he is making odd faces.
-Transitions: Transitioning from one activity to another is very difficult for Liam. This will frequently provoke a tantrum.
Along with these issues, Liam also has delays with his fine motor skills, stutters, and has a speech delay. He receives weekly treatments with the speech pathologist and Occupational Therapist. These interventions have had a significant, positive impact on Liam’s development.
These are just a few examples of Liam’s behaviors concerning Sensory Integration Dysfunction. We use the gluten-free, casein-free diet with him. I can honestly say it has reduced the severity of the symptoms.
Xavier’s triggers are:
-Bright lights and noise: When stimulated with bright lights and noise, Xavier will flap his arms, “zone out”,” lose focus”, and lie down on the ground.
-Transitions: Xavier is not good with transitions. Now that he is older, he does not cry during one. Instead, he gets anxious.
In the beginning, the school believed Xavier was autistic because of these particular behaviors. Once the testing was completed, the conclusion was Sensory Integration Disorder. Xavier does very well on the gluten-free, casein-free diet. Many of his symptoms have been significantly reduced.
What is a gluten free, casein free diet?
-A gluten-free casein-free diet (or GFCF diet) eliminates dietary intake of the naturally occurring proteins gluten (found most often in wheat, barley, rye, and commercially available oats) and casein (found most often in milk).
Source of Information, and to read more about this:
We have to plan our days and activities in a manner that suits the boys’ needs. It is often time consuming . Some days, it exhausts me. I have found support with other parents in our community that have the same issues with their children.
Over the years, we have adapted as a family. Sensory Integration Dysfunction brings on many obstacles in our daily life. Would I change anything about my boys? Probably not.
Has sensory integration disorder impacted your life?