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Monday, October 13, 2008

SPD and the Adopted Child

October is Sensory Processing Disorder Month. SPD, sometimes known as SID, is a challenge near and dear to my heart for a couple of reasons.

1. My nephew has SPD.
2. The Tongginator has SPD.
3. I have SPD.

It's been a long road for the Husband and me when it comes to parenting our little Tongginator. Some of those challenges occurred because of attachment issues. Some occurred because of medical issues like malnourishment and rickets. But most of our challenges - the vast majority of them - occurred because our little Tongginator has SPD. Hers is a mild case now, but it wasn't always. Experts diagnosed the Tongginator with "severe sensory delays" at just 13 months of age. Therapy and time worked wonders in her case. We feel blessed that she has come so far because many don't, no matter how hard you work.

All day, every day, people receive information from their five senses as well as the three senses no one teaches us about (vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile, which is different from touch). Our brains must organize this information so that we can successfully function in our daily lives. Sensory Processing Disorder appears when a person's nervous system develops differently from the average person's, so that he or she doesn't properly process information received from the senses. SPD is genetic, running in families, but it also appears often in premature babies, children who experience stress in utero and children who were internationally adopted.


Because the nervous system develops throughout a mother's pregnancy, plus it continues to grow and form during the first year of life. And if a child doesn't receive adequate stimulation during those formative months, the nervous system doesn't always form as well as it could.

SPD looks different for every person, even the Tongginator and me. We are polar opposites on the spectrum. (I'm convinced that God has a wonderful sense of humor.) Everyone has sensory preferences - things they like and dislike - but a child with SPD reacts to sensory stimulation in ways that strongly (and negatively!) effect her daily functioning, social and family relationships and learning process. For example, lots of young children do not like putting their faces under water, but few react as strongly as did the Tongginator.

I highly recommend that parents adopting internationally educate themselves about sensory processing disorder AS MUCH AS THEY DO ABOUT ATTACHMENT ISSUES. The symptoms often look very similar, but the causes are different.

How can you learn more? A good place to start is to listen to Sensory Processing Disorder and Adoption, a podcast with interviewer Robin Bartko and Carol Stock Kranowitz, author of The Out-Of-Sync Child. You can also read more about SPD at the A4everFamily site. And if you feel at all concerned that your child might be experiencing sensory delays or have sensory processing disorder, take a look at this checklist to decide whether you need to consult a professional to learn more.

And y'all can always e-mail me.


Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

Thanks again for the great information. Hadassah has SPD too.

Patty O at Pancakes Gone Awry has some great info on activities to do with a child with SPD. Great stuff.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Thanks for the info...I will be educating myself on this for sure.

I have a good friend with two children, one of them has Autism, the other has SPD....his is on the severe side!

Michelle said...

Well, you KNOW I love this post!! I will be posting a link to it in the near future. Thank-you and thanks for always being there to listen to our ups and downs of SPD!

Have a great week!!

Patricia/NYC said...

FABULOUS post!! Thank you for sharing this & the accompanying resources...I'm sure, with this post alone, you have helped many!!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Thank you for this post!
I had never heard of this, but after visiting several of your links, I'm thinking that someone close to me may just have this.
Now his behavior makes sense!

Kim said...

My son, adopted from Kazakhstan, also has SPD. I had not even heard of this until he had been home for almost a year. Someone in an online adoption group was talking about her daughter having SPD and many of the things were exactly the unusual things I had been noticing in my own son. I began to research SPD and then had a sensory profile done for him. We are just starting therapy with an OT.

You are so right in that anyone adopting internationally needs to research SPD. I am glad you are helping to spread the word. I have been planning to do a post on this as well.

K and/or K said...

I love how your blog can entertain me one daya and educate me the next! Thanks for all the links and recommendations. I hope to be a more informed mama someday bc of these tips!

Daniella said...

Thank you for this information.

Mary said...

Great and informative post. Livie has SID, and I, too, just wrote a post on it (well...a couple, actually!). I had no idea that October is SPD month...who knew?! I am currently reading Raising A Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske and I highly recommend it.

Amie@HeartSmiles said...

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU ! for taking the time to educate us about SPD! I am embarassed to admit,it is not something I have looked into at all. But you better believe I am goint to check it out now. Thanks for posting all the links! I hope soon to be ignorant no more!


Sharie said...

I am shaking after reading this...mostly because of the swimming incident. I have read about SPD, but had NO idea it could cause such severe reactions.
Thank you for sharing, and educating!

CC said...

Very well said.

Stefanie said...

Thanks for the links! Our Isabelle has some serious SPD and because of that and her speech delay, was diagnosed as autistic at age 2. Thankfully we got in with a great OT and SLP and she's made great strides. Still gags at play doh and super soft things (napkins, etc) and needs a special wiggle cushion at school, but she's come so far :)

Patty O. said...

Thank you so much for this post. My sister also adopted her two children and her son has SPD. In fact, she is the one who educated me so I could get help for my son, who has speech delays, auditory processing problems and SPD. I am so glad you pointed out the connection between SPD and adoption. My sister was so upset when she realized how common it is for adopted kids to have SPD and her adoption agency NEVER gave her information on it. She happened upon information through her adoption support group from another mother. It is so important for people to be aware so these kids can get the help they need. Thanks for your post!!

Beverly said...

I think I have it too mine is in tactile sensory but I haven't investigated it much. I can see though I have a cousin that has the same issues I had as a child so I can see the genetic stuff playing out. It helped to tell his mama to lay off him a bit!