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Whose Kid is THAT?

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Shoppers are staring. Spaghetti sauce is covering aisle 6... (sigh) and my shoes.

woman watching girl screaming

Michelle Kemper Brownlow: His siren-like scream has moms from three counties speed-dialing Child Protective Services. He flails his body, hits his head, and screams louder. The moms who haven't called for backup are giving me "that look." Admit it, you would be, too.

There goes my Mother-of-the-Year award, and all because of three simple things: the squeaking wheel on the cart, the tag in his shirt, and his feet dangling out of the basket of the cart. My name is Michelle, and my 4-year-old has sensory processing disorder. Not many people have heard of SPD. I hadn't until three years ago.

According to the Diagnostic Manual for Infancy and Early Childhood, approximately 5 to 10 percent of children who have no other issues have sensory processing disorder. Most of us have no trouble interpreting the world around us using our five senses. A child with SPD, however, has difficulty responding to everyday sensations because those sensations are magnified exponentially. The result appears to be horrendous misbehavior, but in reality, is a "fight or flight" reaction that borders on fear and terror.

Imagine the squeaky wheel of the cart sounding like an air horn, the tag on your shirt being as sharp as a needle, and the sensation of your feet not touching the floor resulting in serious instability. Would you be able to function?

If your child has trouble coping with what you feel are normal situations, if his transitions from one activity to the next are increasingly difficult, if he seems to seek rough and dangerous activities or shy away from touch and eye contact, you may want to have him evaluated by an Occupational Therapist. Ours saved our home life and my sanity! Thank you, Chris!

next: I Let My Niece Be Oprah for Halloween
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Michelle October 30, 2009, 11:55 AM

Sounds like me actually! Although my poor DD seems to be the same. Eval only said she was borderline autistic. That was a yr ago. Now, they just say she has ‘quirks’. Everyday is a struggle. Thanks for your post.

shea October 31, 2009, 7:02 AM

is it bad that my sons screams like this for no reason in stores lol i swear i get these looks daily…his dr has also said he just has som “quirks”

Julie October 31, 2009, 1:33 PM

Extreme and sudden irritability can also be a symptom of Neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that mostly affects children under the age of 5. It floods the body with adrenaline hormones. A simple urine test is used for diagnosis (VMA/HVA).

Anonymous October 31, 2009, 7:16 PM

shut that kid up!!!!

Jenny October 31, 2009, 8:02 PM

My four year old daughter has SPD as well. I am lucky enough that she is able to hold it together in public most of the time but loses it once she gets home. We just started occupational therapy and things are starting to improve :)

Miranda October 31, 2009, 11:30 PM

When I lived in the city, I encountered a few kids with SPD. I felt so bad for them because sounds that are minorly irritating to us (bus creaking, subway brakes skidding, etc.) are horrible for them. I remember having swimmer’s ear when I was a kid and I would sob anytime a door creaked because it hurt so bad; I can’t imagine having it every day of my life.

Carol Wyatt November 1, 2009, 8:12 AM

Our son has SPD and a mild form of autism. He is 8 now and we have had terrible luck having his various “quirks” diagnosed. It is a lot of work, but worth it to find a good psychiatrist, get services from the school district, and push for all of the special ed and care that you need. Don’t stop at one doctors quirk diagnosis. See a specialist, or two, until you start to make headway. You will and it will pay off!

Jenny November 1, 2009, 8:24 AM

I agree with you Carol, it took us years to get a correct diagnosis and in fact we are still trying to find out if she is mildly autistic..

Definitely don’t give up!

Sensory_Processing_Disorder November 5, 2009, 10:17 PM

Have any of you checked out the SPD Foundation? They are a nonprofit and are really helping provide people with information and science based research concerning Sensory Processing Disorder. I totally agree with Jenny and Carol- keep at it, you will find the best solution for your families situation eventually.

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