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Family Life with Sensory Processing Disorder

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**Child pictured is a stock photo and not the actual child mentioned in the article.

By: Carrie

Sensory Processing Disorder can effect anyone - not just adopted children. SPD is a dysfunction in the neurological system where they are unable to appropriately manage input from the senses. We actually have more than just the 5 senses as most of us were taught; vestibular, proprioceptive, interoception, taste, touch, sight, sound and smell. It is difficult for children with SPD to figure out what is going on inside and outside their bodies. So children with this may avoid confusing or distressing situations or seek out more because they cannot rely on their senses, and may have trouble learning and behaving appropriately. Which can look different for each child with SPD.

A therapist explained it like a major expressway with other freeways connecting " if there is any little slow down on the major expressway then all the other freeways are effected and get backed up.  Another thing is some children with SPD may not register things that happened to their bodies until later. Like when we spin in circles we get dizzy and feel it immediately, well when they spin it could take up to 3 hours for their brains to process something happened!  Which you can imagine can be difficult for anyone to process.  Here is an example: a little 2 year old girl before breakfast was running through the house, crashes on the couch, gets up spins in circles then sits in her chair for oatmeal. She doesn’t like texture though- or maybe can’t chew correctly and so she has meltdown…after breakfast it is time to get dressed her body is now registering that something happened when she spun before breakfast, her clothes are confining her socks feel not so right another melt down….and the day goes on like this.

In October our son was evaluated by an Occupational Therapist and our suspicion that he has Sensory Processing Disorder was confirmed.  Since our 1st post placement visit a month after he came home our social worker suggested that he may have sensory issues.  We tried incorporating a sensory rich environment for him but felt like we were stuck. 

We hesitated posting this because of the fear of labels or people judging our child.  Also, because we feel the need to protect our son’s story-because that is what it is-his story.  That is one of the challenges of being an adoptive parent is keeping their story " their story…and not sharing too much with others.  However, in sharing this it is our hope that others can be helped.  It has been another lesson for us as adoptive parents of WHO is in control and truly is the only one who heals the brokenhearted…it was again a lesson in surrendering our thoughts and plans of what Lil guys adoption story should look like.

In the big scheme of life SPD is not a major life threating condition, but it is definitely not easy either as with anything - some days are better than others... Lil guy is making great progress and I tear up thinking about successes he has had, even little things we all take for granted!

Honestly we are so thankful that we serve a God who loves beyond our comprehension and that cares so much about every detail in our lives, and will direct our paths. We want to give God the glory, as He kept quietly revealing to us and placing on our hearts that our son may have this disorder. He also gave words of wisdom to our social worker. As we sought Him about this, He directed our paths to other families with children that have SPD, a therapy facility close to us  and is familiar with and helps with this condition, finding an equestrian therapy center and being acceptance into it- also Lil guy not being afraid of horses and him being able to process the smells!, providing the finances as neither therapy is covered by our insurance but yet we
still have all we truly need (I am thankful for my husband who works hard to and is such a good daddy), most of all that He has given us peace in this situation as we have had to again learn a new normal.

Like I mentioned above, this condition can affect anyone not only adopted children.  However, this does seem to be common among adopted children.  In the book Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen there is a whole chapter dedicated to this subject. 
Karen Purvis also talks about it in the book The Connected Child, she also has a very helpful DVD called A Sensory World.  I think it would be beneficial for any adopting parent to educate themselves on this.  We have seen a difference in many areas of our Lil Guys life by providing him a sensory rich diet. It really is amazing how our Lord designed our body to heal itself.

I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  Psalm 139:14




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