We Know The Reason Your Child Can’t Sit Still

As you and your son enter the grocery store it only takes one minute before he is weaving in and out of the produce stands.

You try to calmly call him back, but it seems he can’t hear you, that he is in some supercharged speed portal that has shut out the world around him.

When you finally catch up to him, he can’t look you in the eye for more than a second, and you wonder how he went from being calm the whole car ride, to the child maniac.

While there are children that deal with behavior issues that cause problems when going out in public places, there is another hidden culprit that you may not have considered yet.

Sensory processing disorder may be to blame for your fidgety little guy or gal.

Having “disorder” at the end of a title for your child sounds condemning, but it’s not what you think.

While currently sensory processing disorder isn’t widely considered an actual clinical diagnosis, it is an issue many children face.

One reason for this is simply that more study is needed. It is also a broad category and when a child is diagnosed with something SPD related, it is often given a narrowed and more specific label.

As more professionals begin to recognize the diagnosis of SPD and its related disorders, more children will be able to be treated accordingly.

There is empirical evidence, however, through brain scans that show neurological differences for children that deal with sensory processing disorder (SPD).

Many children with autism have difficulty with various sensory input, leading many therapists to address SPD in autism.

However, not all kids with SPD have autism or any other diagnosis for that matter.

So, what is SPD exactly? Child Mind Institute gives a detailed explanation of what the issue looks like:

Some kids seem to have trouble handling the information their senses take in—things like sound, touch, taste, sight, and smell. Besides these common senses, there are also two other less well known ones that can be affected—proprioception, or a sense of body awareness, and vestibular sense, which involves movement, balance, and coordination.

Kids with sensory processing issues experience too much or too little stimulation through these senses. They may also have difficulty integrating sensory information—for example things that they see and hear simultaneously, like a person speaking—might seem out of sync for them.”

There are sensory avoiders and sensory seekers on the SPD scale. The sensory avoiders don’t like to touch, get messy, or to have their personal bubble invaded

These children are easily overwhelmed by stimulation, and often feel comforted by keeping to a schedule.

All mothers have seen a child that is probably dealing with sensory processing issues if it is not your child themselves because there is one in every group.

You know the sensory seekers. It’s the child who can’t stop climbing things, touching everything they see and spinning in circles during reading time.

What most of us don’t know is that there is a method to the madness. There is a reason nearly beyond the child’s control, that drives them to never settle down.

A kid with SPD has ants in their pants because the mental effort to sit still inhibits their ability to take in the world around them.

Believe it or not, when they wiggle while listening to story time at the library, it is so they can better process what is being read.

Dayna, author of Lemon Lime Adventures, is a board-certified teacher with more than 12 years experience in an early childhood classroom.

She understand the developmental stages, the need for kids to be able to play, and how each child has their own learning process.

Despite all this, Dayna once thought that SPD was an excuse made for kids who wouldn’t listen and that it gave these children free roam to get out of their seats and climb the walls whenever they wanted.

She thought this until the insightful and pivotal moment when she realized that her own son suffered from these issues, and she had been addressing them all wrong.

Lemon Lime Adventures reports on the child in her classroom that made her own son’s struggles apparent:

However, there I was faced with a child much like my own, but he had a special “diet” of exercises and strategies that seemed to actually calm his fidgets, soothe his wiggles and allow him to participate in the classroom.”

The “diet” being written about here, is a sensory treatment plan developed by an occupational therapist.

An occupational therapist utilizes and manipulates the senses through various sensory exercises and techniques, allowing a child with SPD to have effective tools for functioning in the world in a healthy way.

Having a sensory avoider child with SPD you can make sure to stick to a routine, introduce different textures slowly, and provide deep pressure therapy like a weighted blanket if they become overloaded.

On the other end of the spectrum, if your child is constantly restless, and you are getting frustrated repeating the same directive to them a hundred times, try a new approach.

Instead of making them sit still to hear what you have to say, or complete a task, get up and move with them.

Step side to side when you are telling them their tasks for the day or explaining a homework assignment.

Or, put a ball of moldable clay in their hand while they try to complete a math assignment.

You may find that doing exactly the opposite of your instinct to slow things down, may help your child with SPD reach potential you didn’t think possible.

Please let us know if you have any experience with SPD, or find that this article speaks about your own child in a way you have never heard before.

 

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