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Exclusive Excerpt: An Inside Look at Sensory Processing Disorder

Posted by on Apr. 1, 2011 at 4:24 PM
  • 10 Replies

Many thanks to Dr. Roya Ostovar for the following excerpt from her book "The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder" - Winner of Creative Child Magazine's 2010 Preferred Choice Award:

 

                                             

 

Kaveh, age 5, was referred to me by his parents as "a difficult and inflexible child," who would have a meltdown if he didn't have everything his way.  At first glance, and on the basis of his parents' chief complaint, it seemed as though he was an uncooperative child, with a volatile temperament and incessant behavioral problems. 

Kaveh is one of many children with Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD who, on the surface, may seem difficult, strong willed, uncooperative, and temperamental, and whose behavior is simply confusing and does not make sense to his parents.  How can Kaveh's parents, and others like them, understand their child's behaviors and what he or she may be experiencing?  Consider the following analogy. 

Imagine living in a home with an electrical system that is completely ineffective in processing the information sent to and from all the wiring in the house.  Every time you turn on the television, the volume is on the loudest level.  When you turn on any light in the house, it is either too bright, is too dim, or flickers.  The heating and cooling systems force out air that is either uncomfortably hot or painfully cold, if they come on at all.  The stove only works on two levels:  fiery hot and barely warm.  If all that isn't bad enough, there is a strong, noxious odor of burned wiring circulating in the air that you can't remove.   

How would you feel living in that house?  What would it be like for you?  Would you feel uncomfortable, frustrated, angry, disorganized or lost?  Your inability to control the electrical system and equipment would probably lead you to behave differently than if everything worked according to your expectations.  Your reactions to the extreme and unpredictable conditions might be out of your control- and loss of self-control is one of the scariest feelings to experience.  

If you can think of the main electrical panel of the house as the human brain and the electrical wiring as the nervous system, the above analogy can help you to understand what it may feel like for your child to have Sensory Processing Disorder.   

SPD is gradually gaining recognition, but many professionals in the medical field seem to be unfamiliar with this disorder and how it may manifest in children. 

An important feature and component of autism is an individual's difficulty with sensory processing.  Although there is a limited body of research on this topic at present, anecdotal data and small studies show that more than half of children with autism have clinically significant symptoms of SPD.  However, the reverse does not seem to hold true.  SPD and autism can overlap as co-occurring conditions, SPD can exist without autism, and autism can occur without SPD.  

Often, individuals with autism struggle with various sensory functions, as well as emotional regulation.  Thus, the question is not whether sensory processing issues affect children with autism, but rather, what interventions and services can we provide to assist children in dealing with these difficulties. 

Learn more, read reviews, and purchase Dr. Ostovar's book here>>

Do you have a child like Kaveh?  Can you relate to Dr. Ostovar's electrical wiring example?  What more would YOU like to know about SPD?

by on Apr. 1, 2011 at 4:24 PM
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Replies (1-10):
thatgirl70
by on Apr. 1, 2011 at 5:02 PM

I believe SPD is what my son (4 years old)  has, but it seems really hard to get a diagnosis for him. He can't stand the sound of certain loud noises, like the sound of a car engine or a hand dryer. At school he won't even go into the bathroom in his classroom because of the sound of the fan (which comes on when the light is turned on) scares him. Luckily he's only there for 3 hours and I make sure he goes to the bathroom at home before we leave.

Unfortunately, the schools here don't recognize SPD yet, so they won't provide therapy for him at least not for that, so I'm looking to try to get him diagnosed on my own and get him treatment. He didn't get the autism diagnosis either (and I realize that it would only be a mild case of autism), which if he had, he'd have gotten an occupational therapist to help with the issues he has.  Go figure.

DrRoyaOstovar
by on Apr. 1, 2011 at 10:22 PM

It certainly sounds like your son is overresponsive to sound and given the fact that he is 4 it is a great time to evaluate him and formulate a treatment plan.  I have a chapter in my book, The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder, Chapter 5, "Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment-Where to Begin" that walks parents, step-by-step, through the process of getting an evaluation.  In addition, there are checklists, resources, books, videos, organizations,and web sites that are listed that you might find helpful.  I would encourage you to discuss your concerns with his pediatrician and see if he/she knows of any local resources.

Quoting thatgirl70:

I believe SPD is what my son (4 years old)  has, but it seems really hard to get a diagnosis for him. He can't stand the sound of certain loud noises, like the sound of a car engine or a hand dryer. At school he won't even go into the bathroom in his classroom because of the sound of the fan (which comes on when the light is turned on) scares him. Luckily he's only there for 3 hours and I make sure he goes to the bathroom at home before we leave.

Unfortunately, the schools here don't recognize SPD yet, so they won't provide therapy for him at least not for that, so I'm looking to try to get him diagnosed on my own and get him treatment. He didn't get the autism diagnosis either (and I realize that it would only be a mild case of autism), which if he had, he'd have gotten an occupational therapist to help with the issues he has.  Go figure.


thatgirl70
by on Apr. 2, 2011 at 12:40 AM

Thank you. I did actually discuss it with him today at my son's 4 year well-check. He wants to go first through the psychologist that diagnosed him with autism. I don't really want to go that route (I don't think this psychologist is very thorough) and just wanted to go straight through to an OT, but he feels this is the best way. But I will check your book out, thanks for the tip. :)

Quoting DrRoyaOstovar:

It certainly sounds like your son is overresponsive to sound and given the fact that he is 4 it is a great time to evaluate him and formulate a treatment plan.  I have a chapter in my book, The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder, Chapter 5, "Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment-Where to Begin" that walks parents, step-by-step, through the process of getting an evaluation.  In addition, there are checklists, resources, books, videos, organizations,and web sites that are listed that you might find helpful.  I would encourage you to discuss your concerns with his pediatrician and see if he/she knows of any local resources.

Quoting thatgirl70:

I believe SPD is what my son (4 years old)  has, but it seems really hard to get a diagnosis for him. He can't stand the sound of certain loud noises, like the sound of a car engine or a hand dryer. At school he won't even go into the bathroom in his classroom because of the sound of the fan (which comes on when the light is turned on) scares him. Luckily he's only there for 3 hours and I make sure he goes to the bathroom at home before we leave.

Unfortunately, the schools here don't recognize SPD yet, so they won't provide therapy for him at least not for that, so I'm looking to try to get him diagnosed on my own and get him treatment. He didn't get the autism diagnosis either (and I realize that it would only be a mild case of autism), which if he had, he'd have gotten an occupational therapist to help with the issues he has.  Go figure.

 


marisab
by on Apr. 2, 2011 at 3:10 AM

Do you have a child like Kaveh?  Can you relate to Dr. Ostovar's electrical wiring example?  What more would YOU like to know about SPD?

My son and my husband both are like this.I def can relate to the example.Is it possibly genetic connected

redwoodlaurie
by on Apr. 2, 2011 at 7:43 PM

 My son is now 15, with mild Aspberger's. However, he did have SPD , diagnosed at age 3, when he entered the foster care system due to neglect. His prenatal care was non-existent as they were homeless folks.  Anyway, thankfully, the system got him into P/T and O/T and all other medical issues were dealt with so he could be adopted at age 5.5. That's when we met him and continued his care. He still doesn't like loud sounds and can hear even the smallest of sounds!  So, it does get better! He continues today with p/t using gym equipment as he does have another condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which is a genetic disorder of the connective tissue. Thankfully, he is class 1, non-vascular type. He is hypermobile and can bend easily, although he doesn't show it.

DrRoyaOstovar
by on Apr. 3, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Your son sounds like a very special young man.  His progress in your care is wonderful and very encouraging.  All the best.

Quoting redwoodlaurie:

 My son is now 15, with mild Aspberger's. However, he did have SPD , diagnosed at age 3, when he entered the foster care system due to neglect. His prenatal care was non-existent as they were homeless folks.  Anyway, thankfully, the system got him into P/T and O/T and all other medical issues were dealt with so he could be adopted at age 5.5. That's when we met him and continued his care. He still doesn't like loud sounds and can hear even the smallest of sounds!  So, it does get better! He continues today with p/t using gym equipment as he does have another condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which is a genetic disorder of the connective tissue. Thankfully, he is class 1, non-vascular type. He is hypermobile and can bend easily, although he doesn't show it.


DrRoyaOstovar
by on Apr. 3, 2011 at 10:13 PM

My pleasure.  All the best. 

thatgirl70
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Just quoting myself for an update. I've made an appointment for him to see an Occupational Therapist this Thursday for an evaluation. I decided to forego the psychologist because he couldn't get us in until May and frankly I think that's way too long to wait and it really doesn't seem much point in seeing someone who really isn't going to do much service for my son anyway. I'm excited about seeing the OT and my fingers are crossed that we'll eventually see some results.

Quoting thatgirl70:

Thank you. I did actually discuss it with him today at my son's 4 year well-check. He wants to go first through the psychologist that diagnosed him with autism. I don't really want to go that route (I don't think this psychologist is very thorough) and just wanted to go straight through to an OT, but he feels this is the best way. But I will check your book out, thanks for the tip. :)

Quoting DrRoyaOstovar:

It certainly sounds like your son is overresponsive to sound and given the fact that he is 4 it is a great time to evaluate him and formulate a treatment plan.  I have a chapter in my book, The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder, Chapter 5, "Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment-Where to Begin" that walks parents, step-by-step, through the process of getting an evaluation.  In addition, there are checklists, resources, books, videos, organizations,and web sites that are listed that you might find helpful.  I would encourage you to discuss your concerns with his pediatrician and see if he/she knows of any local resources.

Quoting thatgirl70:

I believe SPD is what my son (4 years old)  has, but it seems really hard to get a diagnosis for him. He can't stand the sound of certain loud noises, like the sound of a car engine or a hand dryer. At school he won't even go into the bathroom in his classroom because of the sound of the fan (which comes on when the light is turned on) scares him. Luckily he's only there for 3 hours and I make sure he goes to the bathroom at home before we leave.

Unfortunately, the schools here don't recognize SPD yet, so they won't provide therapy for him at least not for that, so I'm looking to try to get him diagnosed on my own and get him treatment. He didn't get the autism diagnosis either (and I realize that it would only be a mild case of autism), which if he had, he'd have gotten an occupational therapist to help with the issues he has.  Go figure.

 

 


marisab
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 7:26 PM

My son is autistic and williams syndrome.He hates clothes nd pulls everythng off as soon a shome.He hates shoes and socks and plls then off whenever .He hates to be mess and well actally jump in tub and start a bath on his own cause he is dirty;he is trying to potty trin his bms cause in his words he is icky!!!I tink he i spd would like to ask the expert what they think.The odd thing is instead of hating noise he is the opposite he likes his sounds as loud as possible and his fave thing is to play channels on cable that we dont have u know what that sound is and as loud as possible

DrRoyaOstovar
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 11:52 PM

It sounds that your child has some sensory processing difficulties and  possibly Sensory Processing Disorder.  Children can be underresponsive or overresponsive to sensory stimuli and it seems that he is underresponsive to sounds anad seeks louder auditory input.  The only way to know for certain is to have an evaluation by an occupational therapist who has special training in this area who can also give you a Sensory Diet, an individualized plan of treatment, activities, and items that can help your child.

Quoting marisab:

My son is autistic and williams syndrome.He hates clothes nd pulls everythng off as soon a shome.He hates shoes and socks and plls then off whenever .He hates to be mess and well actally jump in tub and start a bath on his own cause he is dirty;he is trying to potty trin his bms cause in his words he is icky!!!I tink he i spd would like to ask the expert what they think.The odd thing is instead of hating noise he is the opposite he likes his sounds as loud as possible and his fave thing is to play channels on cable that we dont have u know what that sound is and as loud as possible


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