I am not a doctor and don’t have prescriptions for every SPD problem. I am a mom who is learning to understand her son. This is story is not about your child – it is about my sensory seeker son. However I would be thrilled to know if anything I go through every day can help you or someone you know.
My Child Is Different
If you have two or more kids, you know how different they are. It always puzzled me how two kids growing up in the same family would be so different – one loves independent play and the other one always wants spend time around adults, one is a daredevil and the other one is a little scared mouse. However, when it comes to my son, there was always something about him I couldn’t understand. At the age of 2.5-years old, his vocabulary consisted of 10 words, but everyone around was saying that it isn’t a big deal since he is a boy and growing up in the bi-lingual family. But there was more to it. He was unstoppable and ignored anything I said. Actually, I wasn’t sure if he could understand me because he never responded or showed that he understands me. Yet, he was a very outgoing little boy who loved climbing, jumping, and bumping into things. When he was 12 months old, he climbed out of his crib. He was about the same age when climbed out of the play area, fell on the floor and spent few days at the hospital with concussion.
Sensory seeker, he is fearless, I really mean it – he just wouldn’t understand the word “NO” or the explanation WHY. However, I have noticed one thing and for the longest time I struggled to find an explanation for it – while he was playing, running, jumping every so often he would run to me, would ask to get picked up for exactly 10 seconds, wiggle his way down and move on with his busy day. What was that? He was just over 2 years old when I had a lunch with a friend who mentioned that her son (about the same age) is a sensory seeker. What was that? I found more similarities between my friend’s boy and my son, but the one that really jumped out was the need for physical contact.
What Is SPD?
The nervous system is responsible for sending millions upon millions of recorded, encoded sensory messages to the brain every minute. It is the brain’s job to respond to that sensory data in an appropriate and efficient way. But how does the brain interpret these encoded sensory messages? Through the process of sensory integration. It is the body function responsible for deciphering all the jumbled up sensory input the nervous system is constantly sending the brain. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), formerly known as Sensory Integration Disorder (SID or DSI), occurs whenever this process goes wrong. (Sources: http://spdlife.org).
Sensory seeker simply can’t get enough, of anything, literally! Those who suffer from Sensory Seeking Disorder, otherwise known as Sensory Offensiveness, are constantly in search of ways to arouse their starved nervous systems. Often hyperactive and impulsive, they are often labeled, either correctly or falsely, with ADHD. However, if they are able to get enough of the input they crave, they just might be able to calm down and focus. (Sources: http://spdlife.org).
The best explanation of sensory processing disorder I got from a friend – their brain is wired differently. It doesn’t process the information the same way we do and that causes him to act inappropriately. I think this is a perfect explanation !
Living with a sensory seeker or any child who has SPD is like constantly solving a puzzle. There is a logic behind everything a child does, but it is extremely hard to understand what it is and he wouldn’t say. Some puzzles take a few hours to solve – some take years, but there is no better feeling when I do finally understand his logic. He is not spoiled, slow or broken – he is different and he is my little boy!