Friday, May 31, 2013

Sensory Processing Disorders...Our children, what will become of them and all their glitches....

     Worry.  A state of mind that I have come to be well acquainted with.  When you are blessed with children with special needs, you can't help but worry.  What will become of them?  How will they do in life?  Will they overcome these obstacles?  Will they be able to do well in school?  Will they socially mature and make friends? Or will they be the kid who don't get invited to the Birthday party, the one last picked on the team?  Will school lunch be a hurtful, dreaded experience because everybody is making fun of them and nobody will sit next to them? Can I do enough for them so that they will be able to find their place in the world, a place that leads to self contentment and inner happiness? Or will it be a life long challenge of having to watch my children  struggle emotionally, socially, academically?  Will  I, as their parent have to watch and  simultaneously feel my heart break for them?  These are some of the things that  cross my mind.  As positive as I am by nature, when the day has come to an end, and the lights are off, I worry.

     Yesterday at the park,  as I watched my two free spirited, worry free, children play amongst their peers, my mind strayed once again to that all consuming question, "What will become of them?". 

     As I once again, faced these concerns for their futures, I decided to look in the present for some answers.

     My friend Carm.  She is classic OCD.  When you talk to her, she is consistently blinking her eyes, clearing her throat, hyperventilating, and talking way to fast.  She is definitely glitchy.  Carm, is 40 years old.  She finished college with a masters in Social Work, started her own Nail Salon, which evolved into a wellness center, and sold it for quite a impressive amount of cash...Everybody loves Carm.  She is smart, funny, intuitive, and she draws people to her.  Everybody is aware of her glitches...but they, as well as  myself, just don't care.  WE like Carm.  Carm is successful, happy, and living her dreams.  Really nothing to worry about over Carm.

     My friend Donna.  Donna is definitely on the ADHD side of the fence. She talks very fast, changes topic rapidly, often makes leaps in the conversation that appear to have nothing at all to what you are talking about.  She is a meticulous note taker...she must...or she will forget. I just love Donna.  She is a successful sales person who is smart, a great people read, hard working, a positive person to be around,  and somebody whom I would not second guess to quickly.  Donna has glitches.  It is apparent after you get to know her...but who cares, did not stop me from loving our conversations and wanting to be around her.  And apparently her glitches don't seem to get in the way of her meeting her fullest potential.  Really nothing to worry about Donna.

     Sara.  Sara too can be a little ADD.  Her short term memory is pretty awful.  She often tells me the same story over and over again.  Insists that the conversation that we had "never happened".    Sara is one of the smartest people I know.  It is often her that I go to if I am stumped.  Sara is one of the most successful people in her industry.  Her common sense is second to none.  Her ability to be a chameleon and mold herself into just about any situation is admirable.  She has a tremendous ability to see the "big picture", and it is this particular quality that has led to a life of success professionally, and inter personally.  Sara is happy.  People like Sara.  Sara likes well as she should, she is a good person, and an asset to have in one's life.  Really nothing to worry over Sara.
     Which leads me to myself.  As a child I was an absolute mess.  I came into this world, colicky, high-strung, a little ADD and way to sensitive.  I have some battle wounds from childhood that I would rather not remember.  As an adult, I can sometimes be a little too intense, still a little  ADD, and my short term memory is rather embarrassing.  Yet, today, I can say that  I am happy.  I have friends, a wonderful family, and I have enjoyed great success in my career. I am proud of who I am.  I accept my flaws as well as my strengths.  Like all of the people that I admire most in this world, despite all of our glitches, I have found my spot in this world and I am content.  At the end of the day, I do not worry about myself....

     With great relief, as I let my mind wonder through this empirical  evidence, with the realization that perhaps most of us have come into this world a little glitchy, imperfect, and yet, through the grace of human spirit, loving parents, and perhaps some magic, we are all okay.  With great relief , I embraced the knowledge that  my children,  too,  would be okay. 

     I think everybody has a story.  It is what makes us human.  Where we draw strength from, glean wisdom, it's what  help's us to understand our children...

      So that is my new found wisdom for the day.  I worry too much.  I will always worry, that just comes with the territory of loving children.  However, the next time I feel myself overcome with the thought, "What will become of their future?", I will look to present to find comfort.



Monday, May 13, 2013

Sensory Processing Disorder: Slowing down Hyperactive Behavior....

     Sensory Processing Disorder & Hyperactive behavior....I have found that children with Sensory Issues can also exhibit traits that mimic Hyperactive behavior.  Whether they are sensory seeking, or sensory sensitive, these kids can have a somewhat "backward" relationship with stimuli, and it's effect on them.

     When my children both started to look like two nuclear energy balls...figuring out how to slow them down of course became a focus.

      Using good, basic common sense, it seemed to me that if my little guys had a lot of energy, I should encourage activities that would require "high energy output" in order to slow them down, tire them out.   Activities that involved lots of running, jumping, big cardiac workouts...I took my kids to parks, long bike rides, jumpy places.....for hours I would watch them put out immense amounts of energy.  I then would wait for the end of the day CRASH...Waited for the "Mommy..I'm sooo tired" very seldom came, if ever.

     So I thought, I must add more activity to their day! That of course involved longer bike rides, extended park time for them to run around and scream their little heads off....Nothing...again, very seldom did these kids come home energy depleted....

     Then the irony hit me,  "IT SEEMED THAT THE MORE ENERGY MY KIDS PUT OUT, THE MORE ENERGY THEY GOT"  Like little magnetic energy balls, it became more apparent that they seemed to feed off heightened levels of stimuli.  By the end of a high energy day, my children were not tired.  They were crabby and more emotional volatile, a little crazy,  but not tired.   Hence, what wore most kids out by the end of the day seemed to have the opposite effect on mine.


     Sensory Kids: An inability to take in external stimuli and organize it effectively.....

     One day, we decided to go to the beach.  I watched my kids swim against Lake Michigan currents, build sand castles, which required several trips back and forth carrying heavy buckets filled with water and wet sand. I watched them move around an old abandoned tire around the beach for hours.  They manipulated this tire for hours...slow, heavy, methodic work.  I watched them run the beach...running on sand I noticed caused "resistance".  They were unable to reach peak speed.  Their sprints in the sand were slower, required a  more contolled  effort.  It was not an especially hot day.  Actually it was early fall and quite cool.  So at the end of the day, when we promptly loaded our two little darlings into the back of the car for the ride home, I was quite amazed to find that they zonked out in five minutes. THEY FELL ASLEEP. THEY NEVER FELL ASLEEP IN THE CAR!!

     Huh?  What was different about this day?  I had in fact seen them put out much higher levels of energy and it had not fazed them a bit.  In fact when they were five, we as a family did a 15 mile bike ride in Michigan..they did not fall asleep that day.

     It was this day that I gleaned my first insights into how you go about slowing down a sensory kid. 

     The key does not lye in how "much" energy is put out.  The key seemed to lye in "what kind" of energy was  being put out:  Slow, Deep, Controlled.    

     From that point on, when I wanted to tire my kids out, or slow them down. I tried something different.  I didn't make them run around, or put them on their bikes for hours, or bring them to jumpie gyms...Nope...I did these kinds of things instead....

     I  ask them to move my furniture around the house several times until I find the "perfect"spot.    I have them move boxes filled with books from one room to the next in an effort to "help" mommy.  I bring them to beaches and swimming pools.  I look for sled parks and challenge them to races "up" the hill (winter or summer).  I enrolled them in gymnastics, the rope climbing, parallel bars, rings...When I needed a hole dug, (weather I really needed one or not), I had them dig it.  Raking leaves....

     Slow, Deep, Controlled.  I believe that several important things happen when a High strung, sensory kid engages in these kinds of movements.  First, the sensory input is what their brains crave and need.  The deep, controlled movements give sensational sensory input and the brains says's "aaah".  Second, The movements are slow, again, more controlled, and it teaches the brain "how" to "slow down", actually allows the brain to feel what it's like to go at a slower pace.  Third, Ever exercise?  Try riding a bike.  It is much easier and less taxing on the body if you are peddling fast on a light gear.  Switch it to a higher, harder gear.  I guarantee you, it will slow you down, you will feel the resistance, it will be much harder, and you will feel like you had a much harder work out in the end and you will be tired.  Slow down your child's pace with added resistance: you will get a tired child who slows down.

     The furniture? A lot of deep slow resistance that also slows down their pace.  The boxes? Same thing.  The swimming pool and beach? While it may appear that your kids are moving fast, but not if you compare it to running at a park.  The water provides resistance, gives them great sensory input, and indeed it is a slower deeper energy output.  Running up hills?   Much the same...Get it? 

     So.  When you are trying to slow your children down, remember these tips....Slow, Deep, Controlled.  It worked so well for mine that I am convinced it will work for yours.  Give it a try. 

     Email me and let me know.