Saturday, October 24, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Before I get into my SPD part of the post I have several fun Hannah stories I want to share. Princess mania is still rampant in our house. Hannah loves anything princess related and doesn't stick completely with the Disney Princesses although she certainly knows them well. I had no idea how much she had internalized the "princess persona" until last month when my dad came to visit. During his visit, Hannah asked him to play princess with her. She said that she would be the princess and he could be the prince. Grandpa asked her how you play "princess" and she replied, "I'll just lay down and then you kiss me." She then proceeded to lay on the floor (in full princess dress-tiara and all!) and close her eyes and wait to be kissed. When my dad grabbed her hand to kiss it he was reprimanded and told, "No, not on my hand! You kiss me on my lips." OH MY GOSH! What is Disney teaching my daughter? Her main objective as a princess is to be kissed by the prince. As if that wasn't bad enough, when asked what a prince does she replied that princes kiss the princess, help her up, and dance with her. At first I was appalled at her over simplification of the role of prince until I thought about it from her limited perspective-Disney. What do the princes in Disney do? They kiss the princess and wake them up from sleeping, they help them, and they always, always dance with the princess. For pete's sake, the princes of Disney don't even have names! Well, except for Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty. He has a bit more of an active role than the other princes. That same day that Hannah was conning Grandpa into playing princess with her, she began calling her daddy her Royal Prince which quickly morphed into Royal Daddy. Daddy gets Royal Daddy and I get, "Mommy, you can be the girl prince and kiss me because I'm the princess."
Ok, enough about royalty. Here are some other random "kids say the darnedest things" snippets. One day before church we realized that Hannah had outgrown her dress shoes so I pulled out a pair of shoes in the next size up that I had bought from a yard sale last summer. These new shoes had very small square heels on them. She was so proud of her new shoes and how they clacked on the wood floor when she walked. She excitedly exclaimed, "Look Mommy! I have up heels!" Any guesses as to what she meant? I burst out laughing at my poor girly daughter trying to gain feminine knowledge from her non girly mother and getting so horribly mixed up. :)
Here's another preschooler observation for you. Hannah called to me from the bathroom one day and I asked her what she needed. She replied, "Mommy, pee is like a shower from my butt." That it is sweetheart, that it is!
Finally, Hannah made her first real joke the other day. We were driving by a large hotel near our house that has a huge lawn that they often rent out for various events. Several times over the summer right after we moved into our house the hotel hosted dog shows. So often in fact, that Hannah started calling the hotel the dog show even when there was no dog show going on. On this particular evening as we were driving by the hotel there was a huge flock of Canadian Geese on the front lawn. Hannah noticed the geese first and exclaimed, "Look! There are geese at the dog show. It's a Geese Show!" Then she burst out laughing, knowing that she had just said something funny.
Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled programming, SPD Awareness Month. Hannah has an oral fixation and almost always has something in her mouth. When she is anxious or scared she will gnaw on whatever is available. This chewing is calming for her so we try not to discourage her because we like it that she has discovered a technique that helps her self regulate. Unfortunately, the things that are most readily available to chew on are her hair, clothes, or even her hands. Besides being unsanitary, soaking wet hair and clothes are just gross. We started thinking about what we could use as a substitute that would satisfy her need to chew. The first thing we found that worked well were simple teethers. At home Hannah still uses them, but the problem was that they weren't practical when we were out places because they were easily lost and they were quite noticeable. Because Hannah looks older than she is due to her size, she draws stares when others see her chewing on a baby teether because they think they are seeing a 5 year old chomping away. We didn't have any other alternatives until we moved here to Rhode Island and her OT suggested that we make her a bracelet that she could always wear that she could also chew on. She took a length of medical tubing and cut it to length to fit Hannah's wrist and tied some knots in it and Viola! We had a winner. Hannah's chewy bracelet has been a life-saver. We rarely go anywhere without it anymore and Hannah has it with her so it eliminates the need for her to have to ask for her biter. She can just start chewing away any time she feels nervous. I'm really hoping that this will help save her hands this winter because last winter she went through a period where she was particularly anxious and the combination of her chewing on her hands and the cold weather led to raw, red, bleeding hands.
Hannah's tactile sensitivity has seemed to be increasing lately. Well, we think it's increasing, but the reality could very well be that her ability to tune into her own body and communicate what she is feeling is getting better. Besides picking at her toes until they bleed, Hannah has started complaining that her socks and her coat hurt her. She has also started to say at times that tickling hurts her. The sock problem I've pinned down to the seams inside the toe. I've managed to solve this problem by letting her wear them wrong side out. The coat problem has been harder. I'm not exactly sure what it is that is bothering her. Her spring coat didn't seem to bother her and this is the same winter coat she had last year and we didn't have a problem last winter. It's a bit of a mystery and she can't really seem to tell me what she doesn't like about it, only that it hurts. The worst by far of her tactile sensitivity issues though is when she goes to the bathroom. Every single time she goes to the bathroom she either tries to wipe her labia raw or as soon as she pulls up her pants she starts crying that she's having an accident when she's not. I've tried doing the wiping, but it doesn't seem to matter how much I wipe. It's never enough. I've felt her to see if she really is having an accident or if there is still moisture, but I can't feel ANY moisture at all. The screaming and the meltdowns that occur after bathroom trips are awful. Not only is it upsetting for Hannah, but it can make it really hard to get out the door since she will insist she is having an accident and want to get back up on the toilet again, and again, and again with no results each time and no actual accident. UGH!
To close, here are some links to some of my favorite SPD bloggers. Enjoy!
Pancakes Gone Awry http://pancakesgoneawry.blogspot.com/search/label/SPD
Three Channels http://threechannels.com/?cat=5
Good Enough Mama http://goodmum.wordpress.com/
Diary of a Mom http://jesswilson.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/american-girl/
The Heald Family Blog http://thehealds.blogspot.com/search/label/sensory%20processing
Teen Autism http://teenautism.com/category/sensory-issues/
The Joyful Aspie http://joyfulaspie.blogspot.com/search/label/sensory%20processing
Sensing the Differences http://poopsie-sensingthedifferences.blogspot.com/
Hartley's Life with 3 Boys http://hartleysboys.blogspot.com/
The Incipient Turvy http://incipientturvy.blogspot.com/2008/04/26.html
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Before moving to Rhode Island we had turned our spare bedroom into a sensory playroom for Hannah. While living in our temporary apartment when we first moved we really missed all of the tools we had developed to help Hannah regulate herself. Finally, after almost 5 months in our new house, we have a sensory playroom for Hannah again. We have some of the same elements that we had back in Indiana while others had to be revised because of the space we had to work with. Some things are much much nicer than we had before, while other aspects of her old playroom we really miss. Before I go into what her old room was like and what we've done with the new room, I'll fill in those who are new here about what sort of sensory problems Hannah has.
Most people are very familiar with the "5 senses," sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. What many people don't know is that there are two more senses often described as the invisible senses, proprioceptive and vestibular. The vestibular sense I had at least heard of before. When someone feels vertigo or has an inner ear infection, the vestibular sense is involved. Your vestibular system controls balance, senses movement, and helps with spatial orientation. Hannah's vestibular system is not as sensitive as it should be. As a result she craves excess movement such as spinning, jumping, swinging, etc. She almost NEVER gets dizzy and we can't swing or spin her high or fast enough. She has poor balance (although it is improving) for her age, but she still takes excessive risks in order to get her vestibular "fix." It's almost like she's a drug addict in that her little body compels her to do whatever it takes to get the sensations that her body craves that the rest of us feel just by living our lives and take for granted. When she doesn't have enough vestibular input she is wild, overly anxious, defiant, withdrawn in overstimulating situations, and less willing to interact with peers. She basically doesn't feel right in her own skin, but doesn't know what to do about it. The proprioceptive system tells your brain where all of your body parts are in relation to each other. When someone is asked to take a field sobriety test and close their eyes and touch their finger to their nose the officer is testing their proprioceptive sense because intoxication impairs your sense of proprioception. One of the most common visible signs of proprioceptive problems is clumsiness. Hannah's proprioceptive system is also under reactive. She is extremely clumsy. She trips often, misses her chair when sitting down, and is constantly falling or bumping into things. She has trouble judging pressure so she often hugs too hard, pats too hard, and purposely crashes into people and things so that she can feel where all her body parts are. She doesn't just know where they are so she instinctively craves pressure and input from outside her body to replace the sensations that are not being transmitted properly within her body. Besides problems with proprioception and her vestibular system, Hannah is also over sensitive to smells, sounds, and touch.
OK, back to the playroom. Hannah's sensory playroom almost exclusively focuses on her vestibular and proprioceptive challenges because those are the most prominent and hard to deal with. The two things that I miss the most about her old playroom are a chin up bar that Kyle mounted to the closet door frame low enough for Hannah to grab it and swing and flip on it. This chin up bar worked both Hannah's proprioceptive and vestibular systems and she LOVED it. The other thing I miss is her hammock. We put an old queen sized mattress on the floor and mounted a hammock to the wall. We would swing her vigorously in the swing and also flip her out of the hammock onto the mattress. The hammock was also awesome because it worked her vestibular system and gave her deep pressure (proprioceptive system) which she craved. In her new playroom we have room for her to use her hop ball (works both vestibular and proprioceptive systems) in the house, there is a pole for her to spin around (vestibular), and (my favorite addition) a crash pit which works her proprioceptive system. For the crash pit I got a cheap blow up swimming pool (only $8 off season) and filled it full of pillows, blankets, and her stuffed animals. Hannah runs across the room and jumps into the pit giving her body the input it craves. Then when she is tired of crashing she burrows down into the stuff in the pit and just relaxes and watches a movie. All those pillows give her deep pressure that is calming for her. In her playroom we also have a mini trampoline, a disc swing, an exercise ball, weighted medicine balls, and a child sized shopping cart and lots of bags, baskets, and buckets for carrying and pushing heavy things around. Most of the things in Hannah's playroom are also at her OT's office, but the OT's equivalents are very expensive to buy. There is no way we could possibly afford to outfit a playroom for Hannah with all the features we wanted if we had to pay what things cost in the therapy catalogs. However, it's possible to make a fully functional playroom for not much money. The most expensive thing in Hannah's entire playroom was her mini trampoline and it cost $60. If you have an older child (Hannah was only 2 and was not very coordinated when we got it) you could get one much cheaper at Walmart, but we wanted one with handles since Hannah did not have good balance.
Here are some past posts that mention various aspects of Hannah's sensory difficulties.
Monday, October 05, 2009
October is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Awareness month. Until Hannah's developmental therapist first mentioned SPD over a year ago, I had never even heard of it. Kimberly (Hannah's DT at the time) started throwing around words like proprioceptive input and vestibular system. I felt confused and a bit overwhelmed. She stated that Hannah would need a sensory diet and I immediately worried about my ability to deal with any sort of specialized diet since I'm not much of a cook. It turns out a sensory diet isn't food at all (well it can be, but that's another story!), but is instead a list of activities that meet various sensory needs. We would soon find out that a sensory diet for Hannah would turn all of our lives around. Throughout this month I'm going to try to post some information about SPD in general as well as how SPD affects Hannah and what we've found helps her manage it. I'll also be linking to previous blog posts where I touch upon SPD issues as well as linking to other blogs written by parents with children with SPD.
I'll start by detailing what exactly SPD is. According to the SPD Foundation,
"Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as "sensory integration dysfunction") is a condition that exists when sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological "traffic jam" that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively. "
According to their website SPD can look like,
"SPD can affect people in only one sense–for example, just touch or just sight or just movement–or in multiple senses. One person with SPD may over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food, or other sensory input to be unbearable. Another might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold. In children whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints is impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. These are the "floppy babies" who worry new parents and the kids who get called "klutz" and "spaz" on the playground. Still other children exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive. These kids often are misdiagnosed - and inappropriately medicated - for ADHD."
For more information on signs and symptoms of the various sensory systems that may be affected check out the Sensory Processing Disorder Resource Center.
Finally, for those of you who aren't familiar with Hannah's story, here is a link to the post I wrote last year for SPD Month.