Explaining Sensory Seeking, SPD and My Son

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I could never seem to accurately explain Jude to people. Whenever I tried to describe Jude’s behavior my words would always fall short. He has to be experienced to fully grasp his “MORE THAN” nature.

Like most 5 year old children Jude is active, unaware of personal space, emotional, loud, and full of energy but there’s more to him than typical 5 year olds. Before we met with the occupational therapist and before we had a diagnosis I knew something was different. Even though I couldn’t explain it I could clearly see a difference in Jude’s social interactions, especially when he was with other children his age.

Then we met with an occupational therapist and even before his evaluation was complete she said she could tell he was a sensor seeker. She explain Sensory Seeking like this, “It’s like wearing a glove, you can still feel things but not the full sensation as when you are not wearing the glove. Jude’s senses are like being in a glove, they require more input to meet his sensory requirements.” That made sense to me. He is like most children his age just with a little “more”.

He needs MORE movement which is why he is always jumping.
He needs MORE auditory input which is why he hums when he is playing.
He needs MORE physical touch which is why he has problems with personal space.
He needs MORE visual stimulation which is why he likes bright lights.
He needs MORE physical/muscular stimulation which is why he likes to rearrange furniture.
He needs MORE body awareness which is why he is constantly running into things.

He seeks MORE input which is why we seem to have trouble managing his behavior. He wants to do the right thing but can’t seem to find a way to meet his sensory needs without breaching the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

What we initially thought were exclusively behavioral issues actually have a deeper root. However, in no way do we use SPD as an excuse for poor behavior instead we use what we are learning from observing his occupational therapy to alter our approach to help him meet his sensory needs and correcting his behavioral issues accordingly.

Jude is a very bright kid, he does very well in school when his social and behavioral struggles don’t interfere with his daily activities. Treating SPD with occupational therapy and adjustments to his “sensory diet” won’t rid him of SPD but it WILL help him learn how to properly meet his sensory seeking needs. He will learn to self-regulate and we will learn how to support him along the way.

Jessica is a family lifestyle blogger living in Raleigh, NC with her husband and four sons (7, 4, 3 and 1). Jessica started thebkeepsushonest.com in November of 2009, but has been blogging since 2003. Jessica writes about family life, recipes, travel and products for families. She is also a Work-from-home-mom who manages marketing and social media for a local accounting company.

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18 thoughts on “Explaining Sensory Seeking, SPD and My Son

  1. Jenn

    Very interesting, I have never heard of this before. My daughter is 6 and a half and has never understood the concept of personal space until recently. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Sarah @ 2paws Designs

    This is new to me as well. I like the glove analogy – easier to understand. So glad you got answers and now have a plan to act upon. He sounds like a little boy full of life with very loving parents. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Vasti

    Hammbone! 🙂 I am so glad you did your research and on on your road to better days. I can’t wait to meet your boys one day!! Love you and miss you.

    Reply
  4. Grace Hodgin

    I enjoyed reading this and you explaining SPD. That does make sense about it being like he wears a glove and not get the full sensation of activities. I’m glad your son has such a supportive mother.

    Reply
  5. Amy

    Hello! I just stumbled on your blog! I also live in raleigh and have a 4 year old daughter with SPD. Do you like your therapist? I need a new one. Could you share who you use? If you ever want a play date with 2 active kiddos at the park/ lake, etc, feel free to email. I’ve been feeling very defeated lately. It’s nice to have connection with others who are going through similar things:)

    Reply
  6. Andrew

    I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter with SPD [sensory seeking]. She also had infant acid reflux. It’s been a really tough 2 1/2 years. I’m a stay at home father, and it has not been easy dealing with the role reversal along with the “more” daughter. We also have a 9 month old, and it’s really eye opening when the younger child does things like: want to eat, go to sleep without much fuss, and generally just ‘deal’ with the world as it comes.

    At the moment, I’m hitting a really low point. Our SPD child was making great progress with OT in an early intervention program, but she seems to be sliding back about 17 steps. I suppose it’s darkest just before dawn, but the stress and strain are very difficult to handle. I’m not sure why I’m posting here at this time, but perhaps it’s a good thing to do…

    Reply
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  8. Kathleen

    Replace Jude with my son’s name and you just wrote this article about him. He’s your son’s age, and until recently when someone mentioned sensory-seeking behaviors to me, I never considered this. Everyone has always just found him to be too much to handle. It breaks my heart. He’s a great kid, wickedly bright, compassionate, loves helping others, and very friendly. But he needs more of everything you listed, so people tend to shy away from him. I have always felt something else besides just being a boy was at play, so we’ve been doing research and soon he’ll get an OT eval. I have no doubt in my mind they’ll find the same things that were found in your son. Thanks for explaining this in such a concise manner. I’m going to share your post with others to explain my own precious kiddo. -Kat

    Reply

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