Thursday, January 28, 2010

Young Love...

When I picked Andy up at school today, he immediately said, "You'll never believe what happened today." He had the saddest face and I couldn't imagine what terrible thing had happened. Had he been bullied again? Did someone make fun of him? Did he lose something important?

Nope. His "girlfriend" decided to "go out" with another boy. Yes, they are first graders talking about falling in love and going out. Apparently Andy overheard a conversation between the girl he called his "girlfriend" and one of his best friends. They were saying that they were "in love" and one of them asked the other if they should "go out."

Andy was devastated. He told me he had been brainstorming a way to make them breakup. He had considered writing a mean note calling the girl stupid and making it look like it was from the other boy.

Is this really happening? At 6? Someone pinch me so I can wake up from this horrible dream. I didn't want to act silly about it, because I wanted to validate his feelings. But I had no idea how to handle the situation.

I told him that he can't make anyone love him, and if this girl is "in love" with someone else, he needs to just move on. Besides, she's "in love" with one of Andy's best friends so he should be happy for them. Then for good measure, I told him he's much to young to be worrying about finding a girlfriend.

Phew. I hope I handled that correctly. I thought I had at least 10 more years before I would have to have that discussion!

Relationships are often hard for SPD kids. They tend to have Emotional Dysfunctions so they have difficulty relating to and/or getting along with their peers. They are often introverts, prefering to play on the outside, or in small groups. They have difficulty holding "meaningful" conversations with others, and have trouble interpreting normal social cues and nonverbal communication from others.

Throw in their tendency to be impulsive, aggressive, sensory seeking, and easily frustrated, and lets just say SPD kids aren't always the most fun to play with.

Andy seems to be feeling better about his "girlfriend" falling in love with another boy. Let's hope tomorrow is a better day for him.

It's Been a Rough Few Days

Andy slept in again yesterday. That throws him off big time. Then his Daddy told him he couldn't have what he wanted for breakfast and it all went downhill from there.

I hate when the morning starts with drama. He gets all worked up, and then it just spills over into the rest of his day.

This morning it was something entirely different. Andy came in and was dressed in mismatched clothes. I seriously wanted to laugh at him and ask if he was kidding, but he was so proud for getting himself dressed without having to be asked a million times. He had on a bright red hoodie (his clothing item of choice) and maroon gym pants with a navy stripe down the side.

Me: "Sweetie, that shirt doesn't go with those pants."

Andy: "Well, this is what I want to wear and I'm not changing it."

Me: "You just need to change either your shirt or your pants."

Andy: "Nope. I'm wearing this."

Me: "Why don't you put some jeans on with that sweatshirt?"

Andy: "Because I don't want to wear anything that I have to button."


He's getting to the point that he will not wear jeans or pants with snaps. His fine motor skills are lagging, and he can't button or snap well. He used to wear his jeans and just pull them up or down without unsnapping them. Then he started just leaving them unsnapped all the time and just using the zipper. Now I've noticed lately that he keeps wearing the same 3 pairs of gym pants over and over again.

I probably should have just let him wear the mismatched clothes. It certainly wouldn't have hurt anything. I just had a really hard time letting him go to school without matching. Isn't that weird? I wonder why it was such a big deal to me.

Guess I'd better head to the store and hope that someone still has Nike pants for sale. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SPD Support Group Meeting Tonight!

For those of you in my area, the Sensory Processing Disorder and Sensory Issues Support Group is meeting tonight at 7pm, in the Parents as Teachers playroom at Danby-Rush Tower. Hope to see you there!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

It is Apparently Meltdown Day, and I Didn't Get the Memo...

Both boys are crying right now. Loudly, might I add. My dear husband is off at work, and I'm looking for a good pair of ear plugs to drown out the noise.

Andy is crying because he's on time out. He's on time out because he was playing Wii with his brother and they were having a hard time play nicely. After breaking up a few petty arguments, I told them to turn the Wii off. Now.

That was followed by lots of yelling, begging, and comments such as, "You are so mean!" or my personal favorite, "You are the meanest Mommy ever!!!" Yep. That's me. I'm just looking for ways to ruin your day.

It all started because Andy was doing his vocal stemming while he played. Andy hums. He ALWAYS does this when he's concentrating, when he's upset, when he's excited, when he's angry, etc. He ALWAYS hums when he plays the Wii. For some reason, this was irritating Nate tonight and he kept yelling at Andy to stop.

Well, as you SPD parents know, most of the time the SPD kiddos don't realize they are stemming when they are doing it. And, besides that, Andy HATES for someone to point it out. Andy angrily explained to Nate that they only way he could "beat" the level on whatever game they were playing was to "make the noise."

Nate didn't care for that explanation, so there was lots of yelling back and forth, then apparently some pushing and shoving, and then Andy had enough. You can only push him so far before he "snaps." I heard a loud "thump", then a wail from Nate, and then Andy came running up the stairs quick as lightening.

I asked, "What did you just do to your brother?"

"Nothing!" he yelled, followed by a long stream of runon sentences in his really rapid speech.

Thus the time out incident. Because I am the meanest Mom ever.

And they wonder why I only allow them 30 minutes of Wii time a day.

I have a feeling it's going to be a long night.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Everything is for a Reason

A good friend directed me to a blog this past summer that had this quote on it, and it struck a chord with me. It made me feel a little less hopeless, and a little more secure in my job as Andy's Mom.

"God does not give us more than we can handle. He gave us His special children because He knew that we would be able to handle them and give them all the love and support they need through the hard times and the happy, yet stressful times. He believes in us; we can do it! Our children need us. Take a deep breath, sit back and know that through these times we are not alone; He is always just a prayer away."

This is the hardest thing I will ever do. But I will continue to work everyday to make his life easier, to give him the best possible chance to succeed. Because I am his Mom and that is what Moms do.

You Know You Have an SPD Kiddo When...

This is so funny and true. I borrowed this from the great blog Check it out for more laughs and helpful information.

You Know You Have an SPD Kiddo When. . .

1.You judge every playground by the number of swings or spinning equipment it has.

2.You hear the Red Robin crew begin to clap and you immediately cover your child’s ears to avoid the Happy Birthday song.

3.You have memorized where the automatic flushing toilets are in your whole town.

4.You can, all by yourself, cover the automatic flushing mechanism on a toilet, help your child to use the bathroom , do a “clean butt” check, and yell, “1-2-3!” all without your child being “in” the stall when the flush goes off.

5.You can think of 5 ways to use a can of soup, and none of them require opening it.

6.You hear about a new “spa” that allows you unlimited time to use their showers, pools and hot tubs and the first thing you think is, “My son would love that!”

7.You have a trampoline in your main living area (probably not far from the TV or the kitchen.

8.You have objects that are OK for “chewing” and are not edible.

9.You have visual aids so your child can get himself ready for school independently.

10.You can explain the difference between an IEP and a 504 in one sentence.

11.Your discussions with your doctor require a better understanding of acronyms than doing your own taxes.

12.You wonder if you can write off a swing in your playroom as a “medical expense.”

13.You haven’t been on vacation...pretty much ever.

14.You consider reading the Support Group List Serve an “afternoon out with friends.”

15.You have turned down more invites for parties than you attended during YOUR ENTIRE college career.

16.You spend equal amounts of time convincing others that your child is “not” OK as you do that he “is” OK.

17.Before your child was one year old, you had your first doctor ignore your concerns.

18.You can, from memory, give Handwriting Without Tears verbal cues without hesitation.

19.You have a pair of earphones that were so expensive; your husband can’t believe you let your child use them.

20.You carry gum, bubbles, protein snack and ear plugs in your purse; but no lipstick, powder or mirror.

21.You have looked into buying MULTIPLE of your child’s “favorite” toy so that if need be, you could secretly replace it.

22.You have heard more than one person insist that you have to spank more.

23.You have had at least one family member stop inviting you over to their house because they think your child is a bad influence on theirs.

24.You can give a minimum of 3 things OTHER than a chair that a child can use to sit on.

25.You have given up the idea that your child will *sit* through an entire meal.

26.You have seen so many doctors, it would make most women’s head spin, but for you, you can recite them, by name, and date, and what they did or did not do for your child without hesitation.

27.You remember the day you found support.

28.You remember her name, too.

29.You pass your new found "support" on to everyone you can think of.

30.You wouldn’t trade being the mom of your kid for any other “typical” kid in the world.

Copyright Hartley Steiner 2008-2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mom, I'm Having a Malfunction!!

Andy had a rough start to the day today. First of all, he slept in. Those of you who know Andy know that he NEVER sleeps in. I should have known it would lead to something not good.

Once he stumbled out of bed, 30 minutes later than usual, no less, he was in a sort of he wasn't really ready to be awake yet. He immediately laid down on the couch and refused to eat breakfast until he was able to "wake up" a bit more.

He finally sat up and was ready to eat breakfast. That's when the complaining started. He told me that he "didn't feel like" himself, and that he was "having a malfunction". I thought his choice of words was very appropriate! I'll bet that is what SPD feels like...a malfunction. Your body doesn't work correctly, your senses are exaggerated, things just "don't feel" right. Poor guy!

Because he slept in, he was off of his normal schedule. Unfortunately, Andy is a bit OCD with his schedule. He has never handled deviation from his schedule very well. The whole rest of the morning just felt "off" and I could tell he was having anxiety just from the schedule change.

By the time he ate breakfast, got dressed, and did his 15 minutes of swinging, it was almost time for school to start. As I drove him to school, I warned him that we were going to be arriving just before the bell, so he would not have time to play computers like he normally does before school.

His little face just looked so sad and defeated. I felt terrible for him. I can't imagine what it feels like to be him, to struggle with SPD and have all of those feelings and emotions and strange "malfunctions".

I walked in to school with him and explained to the teacher about his rough morning and his "malfunctions", and asked her to keep an eye on him for me.

And then, as much as I hated to, I had to walk out of the school leaving him there to cope alone.

This just doesn't seem to get any easier...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

SPD is an Isolating Disorder

I keep telling people that I feel like SPD is an isolating disorder. Most people don't understand what it is, so it's hard to find people to talk to about the day to day issues.

Another friend and I were joking last night that we need to have a "club" of SPD parents. We could have matching letterman's jackets, and get patches for each new diagnosis we are given, or for each year of OT services.

Obviously we are joking, and I hope it doesn't seem offensive that we talk about it in such a light hearted way. It's just that this whole thing is so isolating.

I had an episode a few months ago that will prove my point. I was at work for the day, off campus from the school where Andy attends. I got a call on my cell phone in the middle of the day from Andy's principal. Apparently there was an assembly scheduled for that particular day, and as the day progressed, Andy was showing a lot more anxiety, he was getting much more intense, was more "wiggly" than usual. The counselor was concerned as well as his teacher. The principal wanted to know if I had any ideas of things for them to do to help him out.

I had a feeling when I sent him to school that morning that he was stressing about the assembly. I mean, what could be worse for an SPD kid than sitting in a gym on bleachers with 200+ other people with bright lights, music, etc? Ugh. He complained before school about a belly ache, so I had a feeling it was already weighing on his mind. Unfortunately I had to go to work, so I sent him to school hoping for the best.

When I got the call from the principal, I felt sick in my stomach...completely helpless. I tried to call my husband (who was working from home that day) but he was on a conference call so he wasn't answering the phone call. I was frantically trying to think of what to do to help Andy out. I called a coworker back at the office and asked her if she could help me out. I asked her if I could have the principal bring Andy to her, and he could sit with my coworker instead of attending the assembly. She said absolutely.

I called the principal back, told her of my idea, and she agreed that it would be the best option. My coworker went and collected Andy, and he hung out with her during the assembly. Crisis averted.

This whole situation was extremely stressful for me. My heart was breaking for Andy because I knew he was upset and nervous about the assembly. I felt helpless because I was off campus and had to rely on other people to help him out.

When I finally left work that day, I called my Mom to vent. I was just emotionally drained from the whole experience. Unfortunately, after I spilled the whole story and took a breath, my Mom said, "Why in the world would they let him skip the assembly? Why would an assembly bother him?" Ugh.

She just doesn't get it. Most people don't. And it sucks. I want someone to listen and say, "OMG! That must have been stressful!" Or "Tell me about it...I had something similar happen a few weeks ago!" Anything.

I'm tired of people thinking he's manipulating me. Or that he's just a bad kid. Or it's just a behavior thing. Or assuming that he just didn't want to go to the assembly so he figured out a way to get out of it.

I just want people to "get it".

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Dig Other Parents who "Get it"!!!

I had a terrific night out tonight. No, I wasn't on a date with my husband (though we do need to have a date night soon). It was even better than date night. I got to sit in a room with 10+ other parents who also have kids with SPD. It was like heaven.

Those of you without SPD children probably wouldn't understand, but it was so fun to be able to laugh with someone about a kid throwing up on his plate at dinner. Or the girl who refuses to have her hair washed. Or the boy who will only eat baby food.

We all stood up and told our SPD stories, and giggled and laughed as everyone else told theirs. Not because the stories are funny, but because we've been there. I mean, is there really anything funny about a child who wants to be so in your face that they think it's ok run full speed and jump on your back when you aren't expecting it? Or anything funny about a kid smelling a food and immediately gagging or throwing up on their plate? Or anything funny about a child covering his ears and cowering when a sound is too loud? Not really. But it is nice to know I'm not the only one dealing with SPD issues.

And let's face it...humor is the only way to survive this.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We are Starting a Sensory Processing Disorder Support Group!!!!

A coworker and I have decided to start a SPD support group in our area as a place for parents to get together and discuss the challenges of parenting children with SPD and other sensory disorders.

Our first meeting will be Tuesday, January 26th, at 7:00pm, and then will be held the 4th Tuesday of every month. The meetings will be in the Parents as Teachers office at Danby Middle School.

Please come if you have a child with this disorder, if you know someone who has this disorder, or if you just want to learn more about this disorder. Please tell anyone and everyone who you feel may benefit from this type of support group.

I'm very excited about this, and hope to see some of you there!

Monday, January 11, 2010

What's the Deal with Red Dye #40?

Those of you close to our family already know I don't allow Andy to have anything containing Red Dye #40. I had someone ask me recently why I had restricted it, so I figured it was a good time to talk about it on my blog.

Red Dye #40 is an FDA approved dye used to color foods and food products. It is derived from petroleum and provides no nutritional value to the foods that contain it. It is strictly there to change the appearance of a food. Unfortunately, it is not only used to make foods red. It is sometimes used to make orange foods, purple foods, brown foods, etc. It is even sometimes used in combination with yellow dye to make baked products more golden.

You would be shocked to discover how many foods actually contain this dye. Some of the foods aren't even red!! A few of the strange ones I've discovered are canned biscuits, crescent rolls, white cake mixes, Eggo Waffles, and even some brands of tortilla chips! I have to read the ingredients label on every single item I buy at the grocery store to make sure I don't accidentally purchase something that contains red40. There are many cereals that also contain red40. It is even in some medications...antibiotics, vitamins, tylenol, advil, etc!

So why is red40 bad? In 1970, Dr. Ben Feingold (an allergist) discovered the link between red40 and behavior problems. Red40 can cause aggression, impulsivity, hyperactivity, attention deficit, and tantrums in some children and adults. This is not an allergy per se, but more of a sensitivity to the dyes.

The problem is so widespread, and the research so damning, that the UK has begun a push to remove red40 from its foods. Several foods in the UK use natural dyes, such as those from plants and vegetables, while those same foods in the US are made with artificial dyes. For example, McDonald's has removed red40 from their strawberry shakes in the UK, but continues to use red40 in the US version.

The US has not taken a stance against these harmful dyes, and the FDA does not test the dyes for safety. The FDA does now require that foods containing artificial dyes list those dyes on the ingredients label, but the FDA states that they feel the dyes are safe for consumption.

I just wonder why, if there are natural options available, do manufacturers continue to use these potentially harmful artificial dyes in their foods?

We decided to put Andy on a red dye restriction after I repeatedly came across red dye warnings while doing research on SPD. We removed the dye from his diet on a Friday, and by Sunday we had seen a huge change in his overall mood. He was much more mellow and laid back. We were shocked by the dramatic change!

After sharing my story of success, two friends of mine decided to try removing red dye from their households. One had a child with ADHD, and one had a very spirited child who threw frequent tantrums. Both saw marked improvement in a matter of days.

So that's my story. If you are dealing with tantrums in your house, or any of the other side effects I mentioned, see if you can relate it to red dye 40. It is very possibly the hidden culprit.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Below Freezing Temperatures, Snow, and SPD do not mix

Today is a snow day. I remember, as a kid, praying to hear my school on the list of closings when the weather was bad. Now, as an adult, I dread it. One of the worst things to do with Andy is disrupt his schedule. Don't get me wrong...he loves getting out of school. It just isn't good for his SPD. Any deviation from the norm causes him anxiety, and when he does eventually go back to school, he's going to be all out of whack.

Unfortunately, the snow came overnight and school was cancelled. The kids woke up, saw the snow, and started cheering and yelling. Then they immediately asked to go play in the snow. Andy wanted to build a snowman. Too bad it's the light fluffy snow that you can't make a snowman with.

The boys finally convinced me to go outside in the below freezing temperatures. We spent a good 15 minutes bundling up against the cold...including snow pants, snow boots, gloves, and hats. We got outside, Andy shoveled one or two shovels of snow, made a snow angel, and asked to go back inside. LOL! He lasted 10 minutes and then went inside. I asked him if he wants to go back outside later and he said no way.

I hope the snow goes away so he can return to school and get back on schedule. Until then I guess we'll stay inside in the warmth.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Acting out in Occupational Therapy...

So, today Andy had OT. We missed the last session because he spiked a fever a few hours before our appointment. He seemed excited to be going but upon further probing, I discovered he was only excited because I always let him play his Nintendo DS on the hour drive to and from therapy. Nice.

I was nervous when we walked into the office because the waiting room was PACKED with parents and children. It was extremely loud and over stimulating (even for me!) so I knew it had to be rough for him. Luckily, he was so focused on playing Bakugan on his Nintendo DS that he didn't seem to notice.

They took him back for his therapy session and I was left in the chaos that they call a waiting room.

A few minutes before his session should be done, Andy came running into the waiting room laughing hysterically with his OT Ellen nowhere in sight. This was not a good sign. A good 30 seconds later Ellen came along with a not too happy look on her face. She reminded him that his session was not done yet and he should not be running off without her. He just giggled and ran back with her into the therapy room. Not good.

A few minutes after that his session was finally over. For real this time. Ellen came over to talk to me and Andy immediately began jumping up and down, flapping his arms, making silly noises and being disruptive. I sarcastically thanked Ellen for turning the quiet calm son I brought in to the appointment into this crazed hyperactive boy! (Totally not her fault, but it was nice to blame someone.) As she and I talked, he proceeded to smack her butt, pretend to karate kick her, etc. She calmly reminded him that this was not an appropriate way to get his "wiggles" out, and asked him to put on his coat instead. He politely put his coat on, then ran around in circles and smacked the butt of the poor OT student that was lucky enough to be standing within reach. OMG! I cringed. He was completely on sensory overload!

The OT student politely told Andy that it was not nice to hit. He responded by running to the corner, sitting down and pulling his knees to his chest, burying his face. Not at all awkward. Now, let me remind you, the waiting room is jam packed with people. Ellen goes over to talk to Andy, who is still in the fetal position in the corner, while the OT student tries to comfort me by telling me how sweet my son is. Oh yeah. He's a real angel! (He really is a sweet boy, but somehow that got lost in translation.)

I decided that I should go somehow collect my son to leave. When I got over to him, I heard him loudly tell Ellen no about something. Apparently she had the audacity to tell him he needed to apologize to the student. He didn't seem to care much for that idea. Ellen told him we had plenty of time to wait, and that we could all just hang out together until he decided he was ready to apologize. He told her that an apology was "not in his plan". I secretly thought about joining the crowd of other people in the waiting room, and loudly saying, "Whose child is that?!?!" But I didn't.

I instead told Andy that I would go ahead and have a seat until he decided to apologize. I mean, why should I keep standing? This could take a while.

After contemplating that for a minute, he stood up, said he was sorry, and immediately was ready to leave. I knew it was going to be an interesting night.

When we got to the car, he asked for his Nintendo DS. Seriously? I asked him if he thought he deserved to play it after his outburst inside. He said, "No. I don't think I should." Good. I'm glad we agree.

There is never a dull moment when you live with a child who has Sensory Processing Disorder. I'm hoping someday I'll get the hang of this.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Our journey up to diagnosis

I could sit and write for hours about the symptoms of SPD, but I don't have enough time for that right now. So, I'm going to talk about the main one that eventually led to my son's diagnosis.

One of the most common symptoms is feeding difficulties/extreme pickiness. My journey into SPD started because of my son's pickiness. My son ate everything until around his 2nd birthday and then he stopped eating most foods almost overnight. He got to where he only wanted chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, some fruits, or peanut butter and jelly. I asked my pediatrician about it at his 2 year check up and she said it was just a "stage" that he was going through and to just wait it out. Well, that year it just got progressively worse. I asked again at his 3 year check up and she said it was a power struggle and not to make a big deal out of it. Through the year it got even worse. I brought it up again at his 4 year check up. She said that if he wouldn't eat what we were having to give him a peanut butter sandwich because he was eating almost no protein and she thought it was a good alternative.

It was to the point that if we tried to make him eat something, he would immediately vomit on his plate. That's always nice when you're trying to enjoy your dinner. Every meal time was a battle. Lots of gagging, vomiting, crying, arguing, pleading, bribing. We tried telling him he would have to sit at the table until he ate his food and he would sit for an hour until we gave up. We told him just to take one bite and he would gag and vomit. It was horrible! Nothing worked and I was just so angry! I mean, just eat it already!!!

I learned early on that there was no forcing him. He wasn't going to do it. He would go to bed hungry, I could take away things, send him to time out, it didn't matter. He just plain wasn't going to eat it.

I went to people for support but they thought I was just a weak mother that was somehow being manipulated by a 3 year old. I can't tell you how many times I heard, "If he's hungry enough he will eat" or "When I was young I either ate what Mom made or I starved" or "I can't believe you are going to make him something different". What would they rather I do? Let him starve himself to death?

It wasn't until his 5 year check up that I finally got somewhere. I actually told his pediatrician that I would not leave her office until she addressed the issue and gave me some sort of guidance. I was so tired of being told it would eventually get better, then watch it get worse day by day. She recommended that I take him to an Occupational Therapist for feeding therapy.

I gladly made an appointment with the OT, hopeful that they would have some answers for me. One of the first things they had me fill out was a sensory profile. I didn't understand what it was so I asked the receptionist to explain. She said that it was a checklist to determine his sensory integration issues. I discovered that it is almost NEVER just a food issue. The food/feeding issues are almost always associated with SPD.

I was shocked. I had never thought of him as having sensory issues. I knew that he didn't like to have his hands messy or do messy play. I knew that he flapped his hands when he was excited or upset. I knew that as a baby he had a hard time settling down to go to sleep. I knew he threw occasional tantrums for things that I thought were trivial. I knew he always complained about the water being too hot when it felt just fine to me. I knew he was jittery and had a hard time sitting still for long periods. I knew he liked to jump and climb and crash into things.

I never, ever, knew that those things could point to a bigger problem. I truly thought he just had a feeding issue. As we went through the evaluation with the OT it became apparent right away that he had SPD. I had never heard of it before but was extremely grateful to finally have a name to apply to the things we had been through for the last few years.

So, that's our story. There's a lot more to it than that, but it's overwhelming so I have to do it in stages.

Doing My Part to Educate the World About Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

I've been joking for months with my friends that it is my goal to educate the world about SPD. It's kind of hard to do that from my living room. So, I've finally decided to upgrade to a blog to reach a bigger audience and hopefully be a support to other parents parenting a child with this disorder.

I will start by answering the obvious question. What is Sensory Processing Disorder (aka SPD)? It used to be known as Sensory Integration Disorder but has been changed to better explain the disorder. To understand SPD, you first have to understand what sensory integration is. Essentially, at any one time our brains are being bombarded by external stimuli from our senses. There are multiple sounds, smells, things to see, feel, etc at any one time. Our brains sort through this information and tune out the non-essential stimuli (ie: background noise, the feel of the air blowing from the heater vents, the feel of our clothes on our back, etc) and pay attention to the essential stimuli such as the voice of the person we are speaking with. This is sensory integration.

People with Sensory Processing Disorder have a breakdown in the way the senses are interpreted. Their brains have a difficult time sorting the incoming sensory information. There is almost a traffic jam of sorts. To make things worse, their senses are often heightened. They smell things more strongly, they feel things more deeply, sounds are louder, etc. This combination can cause an overwhelming response physiologically, emotionally, and behaviorally.

Let me give you an example. Imagine you are sitting at your desk in a work setting. You are busy typing away on your PC working on whatever project you've been assigned. As you're typing, there are people all around you doing the exact same things. Your brain tunes out their conversations, the phones ringing at their desks, the sound of the clock ticking. Your body knows where it is in space. You are able to focus on your work. Then a coworker stops by and says hello. Your brain tells you to stop your work, look at the coworker, and respond.

A person with SPD would have a very different experience. It would be nearly impossible to tune out the constant conversation around the office and the ringing telephones. The ticking of the clock would sound extremely loud. The tag on their shirt may bother them to the point that they have to cut it out. They may feel the air blowing from the vents to the point of discomfort. They may smell someone's lunch from across the office and gag because it smells too strongly. Their brain may not "remember" where their body is, so they feel the need to constantly fidget and wiggle in their chair. When a coworker stops by to say hello, they may not even notice because their brain is being so bombarded with stimuli that it doesn't know how to respond.

Stanley Greenspan, the author of "The Challenging Child" (1995) described what SPD feels like this way:

"Imagine driving a car that isn't working well. When you step on the gas the car sometimes lurches forward and sometimes doesn't respond. When you blow the horn it sounds blaring. The brakes sometimes slow the car, but not always. The blinkers work occasionally, the steering is erratic, and the speedometer is inaccurate. You are engaged in a constant struggle to keep the car on the road, and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else."

Doesn't sound very fun, does it?

The problem is that a huge part of the population has never even heard of Sensory Processing Disorder. There are physicians that don't even know anything about it! But unless you understand what it is, it's hard to be tolerant of the idiosyncrasies that a person with SPD exhibits.

Whew. That was a long explanation. I guess I'll leave you with that for now. I'll come back another day to talk about some of the symptoms of SPD. I'll also start sharing stories about how SPD effects my child, how I deal with some of the behaviors, and I how I try to cope day to day with this frustrating, misunderstood disorder.