We Interrupt This Vacation to Remind You…

We interrupt this vacation to remind you that your son has significant sensory processing challenges which flare up when there are just too many people in close proximity.

One of the things I love about vacation is being together as a family, and frankly, we’ve been together a whole lot. Once Russ got here, he added some adventure with the catamaran and bikes and we’ve been able spread out a little, but prior to his arrival, we were clustered together like grapes.

Eby was growing tense, and getting sharp with his words. He was very quickly frustrated and needed help staying regulated and calm. Then we had two days of rain and it was a bit more than he could bear.

The outburst caught me by surprise, although in hindsight (which doesn’t feel particularly helpful), I could have preempted the entire thing if I had just been more perceptive. As the rain (and tears) came down, I asked Eby, “Do you want to go for a walk?” He did, so I dug through a duffle, pulling out raincoats.

Then I remembered a sweet thing, just the day before we had gone to our favorite thrift store where I found a darling pair of Ladybug rain boots – in my size. I bought them thinking I would use them to run to the mailbox this fall; but God knew I would need them sooner. This still makes me smile and feel a little bit loved.

Eby and I headed out in the rain, and in a short time, my grumpy boy was calmer. We walked slowly down the hill, watching the water flow, carrying leaves with it, and then spilling over the edges of an overflowing drain. We made our way to the hillside covered with blackberries, where we picked the plump ones and popped them in our mouths. Eby even let me put a berry in his mouth – although it took a few tries.

As we headed back to the house, he held my hand for just a moment, and my heart swelled. I found a solution in a tough moment, and it felt just right.

Questions: Do you have a child(ren) with Sensory Process Disorder? What tips/tools are helpful to you.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. Robin in AZ
    August 9, 2013

    Great job, mama!

    Reply
  2. Emily B
    August 9, 2013

    All five of my kids have various manifestations of SPD. For my oldest, being on a swim team that practices five days per week has been a tremendous help. She comes home regulated every day, and always feels so much better after she swims. For my second, jumping and tumbling helps. When she's out of whack, I send her out to the back yard to do 20 cartwheels or to jump rope for 10 minutes. That almost always regulates her. My monkey in the middle has vestibular problems, so she's a little more challenging. Most of what I do with her is preventative. Number four has dyspraxia. I just talked with his teacher today about interventions that work with him. He gets less frustrated at school when he has a three-cornered grip on his pencil to help support his hand. He also feels more secure with a weight belt across his lap and a block under his feet when he's sitting at his desk. My littlest one has the biggest struggles. When she feels like she going to go crazy, I'll scoop her up and squeeze her HARD over and over. She wraps her legs around my waist and hugs me with her whole body as hard as she can for as long as she can hold it. Going for a little jog seems to really help, too, as does putting on noise canceling earphones and listening to an audio book.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 9, 2013

      Emily, thank you for sharing the unique needs of your children and tools you've found to be helpful. I'm sure other readers will gain some wisdom from you.

      Reply
  3. Anita
    August 9, 2013

    Don't you love it when God provides ideas and the means to achieve them, even when we don't realize it when it's happening. Last week we were cottaging/camping with 35 close relatives that my 3yr old daughter had only met a handful of times (we live far from the rest of the family). By day three of our week away, she fell to pieces at bedtime. Too many people, too many new situations, too much stimulation all around. Like you, The Lord gave me the idea to take her on a walk. We observed so many small bits of beauty that God made in nature, and after about fifteen minutes, my girlie was regulated and went to sleep calmly. God is good!:-)

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 10, 2013

      I love that, Anita. Just getting outdoors and away from an enclosed space seems to help.

      Reply
  4. Isabelle
    August 9, 2013

    We are just in the process of getting diagnosed and starting OT. I find your posts on SPD so helpful. Trampoline, walks outside, swinging are favorites for us.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 10, 2013

      Isabelle, I hope you get some great ideas for your child – the trampoline seems to come up over and over. We have a big one outside and a small one indoors for the winter.

      Reply
  5. Heather
    August 9, 2013

    I have one with SPD as well. Swimming and the beach have been two HUGE blessings to us this summer. Just lying in the surf while the water and sand run over him has been hugely calming for him. He also loves the vacuum cleaner. Ours is an older, heavy version and it probably weighs as much or more than he does. He can push it though, and the the vibrations, noise, and heaviness all seem to help him regulate. Jumping on the trampoline is always great as well. At least 3 times a day I feel like "we interrupt this meal time to remind you that your son has significant sensory processing challenges," and I wonder whose idea was it to eat 3 meals a day anyway?!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 10, 2013

      Great ideas, Heather. Eby is crazy about water and the trampoline too.

      Reply
  6. Chris
    August 10, 2013

    wow, love these ideas, and the MUCH NEEDED reminder that I have a son with SERIOUS SPD, and ADHD, and OCD, and I had been foolish enough to forget it in the last few months of new farm, dairying, Daddy gone too much, life way toooooo unregulated, and little turbo with way too much time on his hands.
    LOVE the trampoline too, and VACUUM, oh my, I didn't think there could be anyone else that LOVES vacuuming as much as Isaac, and I never figured it out why-SOOO glad for this post, I feel like a flop as a mama that FORGOT about her son's SPD, but am so grateful for the things I read today.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 10, 2013

      You're not a flop at all, sometimes we just need our friends to remind us! I think we've had so many improvements in Eby's behavior that I forgot to be watchful, which overall, is a good problem. I can't wait for the day that Eby is able to manage our big lawn mower – I think he'll love it.

      Reply
  7. Teresa
    August 10, 2013

    My son has a difficult time with lots of people or crowds. Things that help him are sitting on my lap (preferably rocking), lying on the couch petting our guinea pig, and giving me a big squeeze hug. Anything that involves touch seems to help. For problems with too much sound, I just have to get him somewhere where he can have quiet.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 11, 2013

      Teresa, your guinea pig sounds like a great idea. Eby would really benefit from a dog, but we're not quite ready to take on another responsibility. He copes with sound by wearing ear protection in the house and car. It's been very helpful for him.

      Reply
  8. Katie May
    August 11, 2013

    We have a three year old with what I am pretty sure is SPD (although undiagnosed at this stage). What helps him the most is his "special blanket." It's just a baby blanket he's had since we was born, but it is super soft on one side….he rubs the soft side as he falls asleep. We've also had to just adjust our lifestyle…noise and crowds seem to be the biggest difficulties for us. So my husband and I have an understanding between us that if one of us notices a room, event, party, gathering, etc. is getting to be too much for our little guy, then we either leave or one of us takes him out of the chaos. Even at home, I am careful about how much noise is going on…even music can be overwhelming. We keep toys picked up as we finish to limit visual chaos. Just a few things that I've discovered that have helped us.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 11, 2013

      Katie, you are doing a great job figuring out your son's needs. Thanks for sharing your strategies.

      Reply
  9. Rachel
    August 13, 2013

    I love it when difficult situations can turn into a sweet and tender memory. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 13, 2013

      Me too, Rachel!

      Reply

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