Years ago, I took one of my children to a psychologist PhD in attempt to figure out just what was wrong with this child. After a very long “intake” where the practitioner asked me loads of questions about my son and decided to rule out most all diagnoses under the sun, she had a good look at him and said, “that leaves only one thing left – Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and he doesn’t have it.”
The young innocent me asked “how do you know?” to which she responded, “Oh I know, because kids with SPD are extremely sensitive to stimuli. I just touched him on his back and he didn’t jump up in fright so he doesn’t have Sensory Processing Disorder.”
I’ll tell you now, my friend, not every SPD child looks alike and that is certainly not the only way to “diagnose” or identify SPD!
But the back then young, innocent me gazed into deep thought and nodded my head at the ever-so-knowledgeable PhD in psychology. She was supposed to reveal to me exactly what was wrong with my son, and she found absolutely nothing wrong with him.
What’s Wrong with Me?
“I must be what’s wrong with my son! I must have not been driving this ship very well then”, I decided.
I’ve had another PhD of psychology tell me to count 1 – 2 – 3 each time my child screamed, yelled, or had an unacceptable behavior, and on 3 it’s time-out. While that solution works wonders for some parents, it didn’t do a single thing for my children because, as I realized, the behaviors of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder are a totally different ball game. Parenting books and tricks don’t work for these ‘difficult’ children!
Have you read every book you can get our hands on, seen every professional you could think of under the sun (x therapist, y therapist, x PhD, y PhD, MD, counselor, social worker, educator …. you name it) to get the answer as to what is wrong with your child? To understand why he/she just doesn’t act quite like most kids, and what to do with your child? But all you did was go through a long intake/assessment, and find out that they don’t know anything about your child?
But I was desperate!
Have you ever tried so hard, been so desperate to get an answer about your child?
Yes, I have!
I’ve chased professional after professional, expert after expert. I’ve asked and searched for the answer everywhere, to find out why my child is so “different”, so crazy, so out there, so misfit, so full of trouble, most times embarrassing, and why it appears that my life is so much harder than most parents.
I thought it was either that my children were different or that I was much less competent as a parent. Maybe the parenting job just seemed that much harder for me. But I realized it wasn’t me. There was truly something a little different about my children and I just needed to crack those nuts!
I threw more than a fair share of money and time into the problem. I might have seen more professionals than they have seen patients! At the end of the day, I came home from another professional’s office. I then realized that the hour in their office didn’t amount to much of what I needed. Here I was in the midst of another one of my son’s scream-my-head-off moments, alone. After all, he was still the same son as he was before I left for the appointment . He was creaming his head off, throwing himself to the wall, crying his lungs out … except it was 3 am and no professional was in my house to help at that moment.
They weren’t there 24/7, it was Only Me and My Child’s Behaviors
That’s when I realized that no amount of doctors, therapies, and professionals, no matter how good they were, were going to help if I didn’t know how to deal with my child and his special needs (SPD and a several other formal diagnoses) on a minute-to-minute basis, hands-on, except me.
A doctor, therapist, or other professional won’t ever know your child as well as you. The professional doesn’t live with your child 24/7. Therapists are not there to see the unique behaviors of your child around the clock. You need to educate yourself, take the professional’s advice and input and tailor solutions that work for your unique child. Your child will really benefit when you work in partnership with your professionals.
I Needed to Engineer Creative Solutions
I needed to support my child’s every need 24/7 (no matter how insanely and irrationally he was behaving). So I decided to bridge the gap between the professional’s office and my house, by engineering my own creative solutions.
Being that I’m an engineer by training and it’s my first career, it’s my annoying nature to dig to the bottom (root cause) of every problem I see. With this process, I come out engineering solutions and systems of solutions for each unique problem. Believe it or not, when I was done with engineering technical systems years ago, I found myself doing the same thing with kids with SPD! That’s right, I started engineering outside the box solutions for outside the box kids (kids with SPD and more)! These solutions enabled me to transform my own kids from Outcast to Outstanding, and my family life from Chaos to Harmony.
I not only survived, but I was able to bring each and every one of my children (by now half a dozen kids) to a place of happiness, exceptional performance (behaviorally, at home, and academically), and harmony (internally within their bodies and externally in their environment).
YOU Need to Understand What’s Driving the Behaviors
When you have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, my biggest advice to people is to understand what’s behind SPD, what drives the behaviors, and therefore, how to address the SPD-induced behaviors that are sabotaging your child’s self-esteem and success.
How did I do it? I did it by understanding the children’s needs and what was driving the behaviors behind the child with Sensory Processing Disorder. From that understanding, I learned how to provide the structure and support they needed in their everyday lives: physiologically, mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally. These are things that effective parents and caretakers of a child with SPD need to know. They also need to know how to deal with the impulsive behaviors of children with SPD and how to teach a child with SPD self regulation and self awareness, etc.
It Wasn’t Easy, but I Did It!
I spent years reading and researching and I spent many hours working with professionals.Not to mention the cost of trying to figure this all out (no kidding, $125 – $350 per hour of professional appointments and consults add up quickly after a while). The journey took years and tears, but I finally got to a great place with all my children with SPD. I see many parents on that same path and I wish to cut their learning curve. Instead of struggling with behavior issues, I want the parents and children to get on to a normal life sooner and start enjoying each other more.
People are always asking me how I managed to bring all my children from a place of struggle and functional challenge in their everyday lives to a place of harmony and success. So, I decided to share all my knowledge, experience, and creative solutions that I “engineered” over the years. These are “short cuts” for those of you who come on this path after me. I don’t want you to shed as many tears and look as ridiculous as I did when I first started on this journey of raising kids with SPD and many other conditions. They are short cuts for you to get back to normal life and move on with your kids. That’s what Harmonious Clan is all about.
Why Do You Need to Do This?
Is it important to provide the structure and support children with SPD need in their everyday lives? Yes. Why is it important to get them to the most ‘normal’ life possible? At the end of the day, your child needs to learn the skills of self awareness and emotional self regulation. No one but YOU is going to teach that to them. As a parent, you need to teach your child all the crucial life skills you can. And you need to teach them from a young age. But, it’s never too late to start.
These are life skills that most children/young adults learn as they grow. But it’s more of a struggle for children with SPD. You are the one that needs to bridge that gap from the professional to the uniqueness of your child. Teach them these skills so they are prepared when they leave your house and go out into the world. Send them off with self awareness, emotional regulation and the self confidence that they are in control of their behaviors.
Demystify Sensory Processing Disorder
I put together the Thriving with Sensory Processing Toolkit to help you get started. My toolkit provides you with the tools you need to demystify SPD and help your child Thrive in life.
Here’s what’s included in the Toolkit:
- Tool #1 – Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in Plain English
- Tool #2 – How to Tell if My Child Has SPD (typical characteristics)
- Tool #3 – Why Does My Child with SPD Act this Way
- Tool #4 – How SPD Impacts My Child
- Tool #5 – How to Help My Child with SPD
- BONUS – Thriving with SPD Recipe Cards
Need More Help?
Want to go beyond just Sensory Processing Disorder? Over the years of raising my “unique” children, I concluded that behaviors are only the tip of the iceberg. You can’t truly fix the behaviors until you address all the underlying causes beneath the waterline.
My book ‘Outcast to Outstanding – The Practical Guide to Understanding and Addressing the Drivers of Your Child’s Behavior’ goes into more detail on Sensory Processing Disorder, and more. It brings to the table a fresh perspective on how we intervene behaviors. It’s not just a matter of discipline and treating behaviors. But rather, it’s about understanding the child’s internal environment and addressing the missing pieces that surface as behaviors. Most people treat the behavioral symptoms instead of the cause. If we are only looking at the behaviors, we are missing the mark.
I went through years of research and working with professionals. Not to mention the trials and errors, tears and pain. I put this information together in my book so that you don’t have to pay the price I paid.
What behaviors are tripping up your child? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
I always appreciate comments and feedback.