Someone suggested (again) that I look into Sensory Processing Disorders to see if M could benefit from occupational therapy. I had read about them at one point, but not in-depth, and I certainly didn’t get into many types that exist. Then, yesterday, I read the introduction to The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz, and tears came to my eyes. Those kids in music class running around, “not listening”, and disrupting the other “good” kids? That’s M in music class, exactly. It’s embarrassing, it makes me feel like a failure, it makes me worry about my child, and it makes her feel like a failure. It makes other people ask “is she ADHD?” or compare her to every problem child they ever knew. But I know that she’s not a problem child. I know that when she gets enough stimulation, she is fun, charming, intelligent, and as cooperative as any two-year-old can be.
I recognize M in almost every description of sensory-seeking sensory processing disorder I read. I’m not a doctor, or a specialist, but I am a parent who has noticed that my child is “different”, extremely “energetic” to the point of being disruptive, in constant motion, and “rough”. In addition, the following descriptions fit her like a glove:
-Always jumping, or seeks out jumping activities
-Constantly kicks her feet against something, including me at night
-Wants to be spun in a circle, hung upside down, pushed very high on the swing, and -never indicates that she’s had enough
-Wants to ride amusement park rides over and over, loves when the car stops suddenly, or we go over a big bump
-Constantly jumps off of very high ledges for the thrill of it
-Always wants to rough house or engage in rough play
-When she hugs other children they complain that it is “too much”, too tight, too long, and too rough, often knocking the other child over
-She seeks hugs and affection from total strangers
-She chews on things constantly, like shirts, and likes to suck on oddly shaped items or items with a strong taste (like pennies, or playdough), often bites people’s clothes when she hugs us, or even our hair
-Wants to watch TV or use screens constantly, enjoys flashing or bright lights
-Likes loud sounds, frequently requests “fireworks”
-Seeks out messy play for long durations, “rummages” nonpurposefully constantly through drawers and bins, dumps things out, even things she wanted to drink (then upset because it “spilled”)
-Throws everything, even something she really wants (bottle of milk at bedtime)
-Unable to settle down for sleep without a day completely full of events and activities
-Prefers spicy foods (Indian food for example), or foods with a strong bitter flavor (coffee)
-overstuffs her mouth to the point where either she or I have to remove some of it for her to swallow
-prefers crunchy foods, like apple, celery, carrot sticks
-“Frequently falls on the floor intentionally” OMG she does this all the time, makes me crazy
-banging her head against the wall, not painfully, but repetitively (she did this even as a baby), hitting herself, pulling her own hair
-makes frequent noise or sounds just to make them, often very loud (like shrieking as loud as possible over and over)
-needing to touch or hold something in BOTH hands at the same time, not just one hand, or if you play “this little piggy” on one foot, you must do it on the other
The list just goes on, and on, and on. It’s like I’ve stumbled into some kind of psychological niche that is labeled with M’s name. No wonder she is so physical at night with me when she’s not tired, and I’m making her lie still in a dark room. She is craving stimulation and has no idea how to get it. No wonder the rocking helps. No wonder she begs me to put the TV on when it’s quiet at home. No wonder she banged her head against things for fun as a baby. No wonder she jumps off high playground equipment or walls or ledges like some kind of professional stunt double. No wonder, no wonder, no wonder.
The best news is? There are plenty of knowledgeable and awesome occupational therapists in our area who can help with this. It’s not something that they will try to medicate her for, but it is something that has been studied and looked at and has proven treatments.
Obviously, there are other things that could be going on, considering her early traumas. But if the therapists and physician agree with that she fits with this, or that it may be a component of what’s going on… we may soon be using a treatment plan and my daughter might get the input she so desperately needs!