Sensory Processing disorder and temper tantrums

Schyla - posted on 03/07/2010 ( 24 moms have responded )

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My four year old has a sensory integration disorder she is delayed in her speech and in some of her development for the most part she is a bubbly energetic little girl who loves her little sister and her puppy the best. But she has these temper tantrums that last for hours. She kicks hits bites and throws things we've started a time out routine with the help of a behavior therapist and we remove her from the situation, her Occupational Therapist suggested a weighted blanket to put on her but none of this is helping she screams at her father and I and is completely inconsolable. She is out of control and the older she get the worse the tantrums get. I am not sure what to do. I want to help her learn to calm herself but everyone keeps telling me that ignoring her tantrums is the best course to take. but I fail to see how letting my four year old scream for three hours is teaching her to calm herself all it dose is were her out and make her sick. So dose anyone have any suggestions on teaching her how to calm down. Sometimes when we notice a trigger we are able to talk her through what she is feeling. (example she wanted cake for dinner we got down on her level knowing that just telling her no would trigger a tantrum and told her You can have a piece of cake after you eat some noodles and meat. I know thats not what you want but its what is best. That helps but we can't always catch them and when she blows it's like a volcano erupting she just keeps going until she falls asleep due to exhaustion. I do not want to turn every thing from bath time to bed time into a battle but that is how we are living our life right now. So anything would be a huge help.

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Ria - posted on 10/24/2012

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Hi Theresa

I don't know if you are still out there but I just came across your post from a few months ago and I wanted to show some support. I have a 5 year old son whose regular temper tantrums feel like they are tearing our family to shreds. It's so hard having to deal with something like this on a daily basis.

I saw your post this morning when I was seeking information for the terrible morning I just had with him. He is as yet not diagnosed with anything but next week we have an appointment to get him assessed.

My son does have some sensory issues but my main issue is the frustration intolerance and anger outbursts he has that make it almost impossible to have a normal family life. At other times he is the sweetest boy going. I recognised the same observation in your post.

I've been online 1000 times before trying to get ideas for helping him and I've read countless books. The problem is, I don't always follow the advice consistently because it is so easy to get worn down by the difficult behaviour and revert to dealing with it the way I did before.

Anyway, being online this morning has reminded me of a few things which I have recently forgotten and, although I'm not suggesting they are foolproof, I do believe (out of everything I have tried), when I do these things properly, they are the most effective.

First and foremost, tantrums love an audience. A positive or a negative one. No audience equals no point in tantrumming. When I have walked away, I believe that 8 or 9 out of 10 tantrums have stopped. When I stay to reason with him, or comfort him, he gets louder and louder. I realise this may be hard if your grandson is being destructive but I wonder...Does he start off that way, or is that what he works up to in order to get your attention even more? Obviously, if you were to try ignoring, you need to make sure you are not leaving him with anything he can harm himself with.

Just like your Grandson, my son's problems are only evident at home with us. The good thing is that it shows they have the self-control in certain settings. They just aren't achieving it with us. That's why I can't help but feel that my husband and I have given his tantrums too much attention, rather than just ignoring them. Even on the Aspergers websites, they recommend ignoring and acting as though you can't see or hear the tantrum. If you can do it everytime (which is my problem), then they supposedly get the message that it's not getting them anywhere. (There is something else to consider here though. They let it all out with us, the people who love them unconditionally. They know that so they know they can do it)

I think the ignoring technique also has to be backed up later on by discussing what happened with them. In my house, we talk to our son at bedtime about all the things he did during the day that were good and then we discuss how he could have handled the problems better. Trouble is, he is very repentent afterwards and knows exactly how he could have handled it better, but the next day he does it again.

I have also read articles on the net about distinguishing between 'manipulative tantrums' (when they can't have an ice-cream, or they want you to do something and they act out to get you to do what they want), and I think they call the other time 'over-spilling tantrums' or something like that. These are when they are over-tired or hungry, or have bottled up a load of problems and it all comes spilling out in the form of a tantrum when something tiny happens like they tread on a model they made by accident. It is recommended you do the ignoring technique for the manipulative tantrums, but with the over-spilling kind, it's okay to give them a hug and say 'come on let's fix that together' sort of thing...

I think we also need to work hard on getting them to talk about their emotions so that they have the vocabulary at the ready when they are upset. I am currently trying to do a lot of this in front of him in the hope he copies my great example. There's a lot of 'Ooh, I feel really annoyed about that' and 'I feel very sad when people do that' coming from me at the moment.

Heh, I hope you find my post and that it is in some way helpful. I am no expert, just someone who knows how hard it can be. Stay strong and make sure you get lots of breaks for yourself....And I shall try to follow my own advice too.x

Melanie - posted on 03/10/2010

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Our eldest was like this. Started at 2 and continued till about age four. Setting him into another room to calm down did not work. A) he would hurt himself when he was upset. B) we spent more time trying to keep him in his room, that the method failed C) his tantrums lasted longer and longer with each one.



I actually had to gently but firmly hold him to the floor to keep him from hurting himself. I wouldn't put my whole weight on him, but enough pressure for him to feel me. For some reason, pressure really helps to calm him. He used to beat his head against things, or he'd ram his whole self into the wall or objects. I remember laying with him like this for over two hours once, at the beginning of using this technique. When I'd feel him relax, I'd count to ten, and if the fit started before I got to the last count, then I knew he wasn't done. If we made it to ten, I could let him up. I also talked calmly into his ear. "Joshua you need to settle down. I'm not letting you go until you settle down."



If the fit occurred in public (which it did often)...I'd remove ourselves to the car in the lot, shut the van door, and sit on the bench seat in the back. I couldn't get him into his car seat like this, so going home wasn't an option. Instead, I would turn his body, back to my belly, hold him gently but firmly against me, making sure he couldn't slam his head back against me. And I held him until he stopped squirming, speaking calmly into his ear. This worked as well, but wasn't as good. He was very strong especially when upset or angry. With each tantrum, it took him less and less time to get to a point where he calmed down. In other words, I only had to hold him for 2 hours once. After that, it was more like 20 minutes, then 10, then 5, and after awhile, I just would begin to assume the 'hug' and he'd immediately snap out of it.



Eventually the tantrums mostly went away, but it took two years. It's taken thirteen years to get to a point where he's functioning so well, most people have NO idea what we've been through to get him here. It takes a LOT of patience (something I'm often lacking) and the constant reminder that it won't go away over-night. It also takes consistency. Just about the point you're ready to give up...press through and keep going. We always found he got WORSE right before we had a break through, and then sometimes, (not always) it would be like a switch flipped in his brain, and you could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Undesirable behaviors always last a LOT longer if we became inconsistent with the training/therapy/etc...and it was hard to stay consistent because we'd wear out. With Joshua, sometimes it takes six months to work an undesirable behavior out of him...sometimes it takes a lot longer, like thirteen years. Sometimes certain undesirable behaviors came back. He turned ten, the hormones started up, and we were dealing with tantrums again. Thankfully, it lasted a little shorter than the first time around, as he had a little more ability to understand. Between us and his doctor, we could work on methods that would allow him to control himself, rather than relying on us to help him stay under control. It can be easy to give up hope, but I'm glad we didn't. He's turning out to be a really cool kid.

Amy - posted on 03/11/2010

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Someone pointed out to me that there is a difference between temper tantrum and melt down. A melt down is what happens when we' ve enough stimulation. Temper tantrum is because we didnt get what we wanted and the goal is to get attention, therefore trying to persuade the parent to give in to our demands. Once i understood this i began to look for the triggers and not feel he was power struggling with me. He was simply telling me he had enough. He sometimes now lets me console him, other times alone time in his room with favorite toys work too. He even will go nap on his own from time to time. He is three and not really all that verbal. I hope this helps, good luck.

Teah - posted on 03/09/2010

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You need to determine if the tantrums are just typical preschooler behavior or if it is something else, for example, lack of communication or sensory needs. If it is typical behavior issues from being told "no more cookies" or "it is bedtime", etc., ignore it. She is trying to get a reaction or to get you to give into what she wants. If it is lack of communication, patience and being calm is all you can do because the calmer you are, the calmer she will be but don't anticipate her needs because then she will feel she doesn't need to talk to tell you what she wants because you already know. If it is neither, then give some sensory input that she likes. I used to fold my daughter in half and squeeze. Now she wants hung upside down and asks for it everyday when she comes home from school. We also give her a weighted blanket to sleep with at night. She gets sensory input in school because she is in a preschool disabled class and receives OT on the side, so that helps too. Never punish for the tantrums. The sensory needs and lack of communication is not her fault and punishing tantrums caused by typical preschooler behaviors will just make the tantrum worse and longer. If we are out in public, I let her throw herself down and I stand there and don't talk to her(unless we are in the road or parking lot; I move her to the sidewalk and put her back down). Once she did it in the doorway @ Target and I just stood there and let everyone go around us. At first it was embarrassing but then I realized I'm not the only mom that has to deal with this stuff. Once she realizes that I am not going to pick her up, she gets up, holds my hand and we go on with whatever we were doing. In the store, I avoid the toy department because I already know that will trigger it.

[deleted account]

Wow! Reading this is way to familiar to me! My son does the exact same things!! He had a tantrum today that lasted for over an hour and all because he wanted something to drink and I told him he needed to wait until dinner! He really likes deep pressure. We also do time-outs with him for things like being to rough with his little brother and not coming when he is called (these are daily issues) however, we make him sit there when he is having a fit also. He sits until he calms down. Normally he sits for 3 mins. but in cases like today I will sit WITH him and rub his hands and feet. I don't talk to him or look at him so he understands that it is time to calm down and he is not in trouble, I just need him calm so I can help him. It can be exhausting some times, but hang in there, your doing your best and that's all anyone can ask for :)

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User - posted on 10/26/2012

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RIA-Thank you so much for your words and advice. It was well taken and I really liked the two examples of tantrums! I agree and have just started to sort out the differences. In what you have shared, I find you may enjoy a chat sight I have found which has done wonders for me and answered so many of my questions. The site is for SPD parents(but not all have spd/wide spectrum of diagnosis), workers and it has been so enlightening to me in so many ways. I have finally gotten a firm grasp on so much that I was struggling with and it is so much more peaceful at my house now. I would not have gotten this far had it not been for the group suggestions and my own research (several books at my libary and on the web) Please stay in touch and check out this site, I do not believe you have to have a child actually diagnosed w/ a specific dx-several have asburgers, adhd, autism and spd. Thank you again for reaching out to me and your suggestions, it is so nice not to feel so alone.

SID-DSI_AllAboutKids@yahoogroups.com THERESA

THERESA - posted on 08/18/2012

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The dates on these post are so old. I don't know if anyone is still out there but I need help, support, guidance-to get this out... I am guardian of my 4yr old grandson. This past week finally after 2 yrs was able to put a diagnosis to his behaviors-SPD. As relieved as I am to finally be able to put a name to this and to educate myself on what is going on to my child, I am still so exhausted and overwhelmed. I do not know how to handle the outbursts, the tantrums, the meltdowns. I can avoid some meltdowns because of the "triggers", this is usually in public, I can steer him away from large crowds, noises, bright lights but it's when we are home and the tantrums will come out of no where, this is where I am at a loss. We can be doing something as simple as art and the wrong crayon, color, shape, or if I do not draw what he wants RIGHT then will set him completely off. Screaming, throwing anything, ripping the paper, he will destroy anything in his path (then later ask if we can fix it), he will scream, yell, curse, used to bang his head-doesnt do this so much anymore but will still scratch his face, arms or bite himself. I just dont know what to do anymore. I am exhausted and it hurts me so deeply for him. as when he isnt angry, he is so much fun and funny, and so intelligent. he does not have these fits in daycare-which he has attended full time since the age of 2-yet at home or sometimes in public will go into one of these fits. I dont understand how he has the restraint to control his temper at daycare but not at home..I dont know how to handle these tantrums. I have tried every angle, the most affected so far is hugging him, talking with him as I hold him yet I am so afraid is this right? is this encouraging or should I say "okaying" the tantrum? I dont know. Any suggestions, thoughts, advice is much appreciated.

Jenny - posted on 03/12/2010

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My daughter has sensory processing disorder, CP, PVL, speech delays among other things. She has what we call melt downs also. Sometimes we can't get her to calm down and we know that she needs to shut down. That is fine when we are at home and we can but her in her bed. It is hard when we are out places. Sometimes I can get her calmed down if I remove her from that situation. If I have my husband or another adult with me it works better. She will calm down better if it is with them not me. She also has what we call fights with herself. She will want something but at the same time she does not want it. Those are the worst we can not get her redirected from those. She doesn't like deep pressure or light pressure. She likes to snuggle or hug only on her terms,

Nikida - posted on 03/11/2010

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Deshawn was born @ 35 weeks and has been followed with his sensory/motor "issues" since infancy he has a screening next week as he is finally in the age group where it is possible to identify what might be going on 4 him. Years with night terrors feeding issues b/c of textures, smelling food b4 eating it, used to panic at messes on clothing. A real cuddly sweetheart, loud noises frighten him as does the dark. He goes from happy to sad,frustrated,mad cycles quick.

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Ignore the tantrums. If she does dangerous things make a safe space for her with indoor baby proofing gates. Put her in there with comforting objects that are safe for her. Lock the gate. Put a camera in the space she can't see. Put the monitor in a room where she can't see you. Try to relax, so the next time you engage with her you are calm. Also see if your local intermediate unit or social services offer a behavior specialist and theraputic support staff to help you remodel her behavior. Go to your state's Department of Welfare site look carefully for information on Early Intervention, I.D.E.A.

Arica - posted on 03/11/2010

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My daughter has this disorder where you will tell her something and she will just stand there and stare at you because it takes her brain longer to process the information she was just told. She will either take longer to answer you, or not answer at all. She, too, goes into her room alot to play with Barbies or something by herself and sometimes she's so quiet I have to go look for her. Or she'll get upset and run into her room. It's times like this when I know I need to sit down with her and try to get it out of her what is going on. I truly believe these outbursts and self-consolation displays are her way to telling me she is still struggling with the emotional trauma she has had to face from the abuse she and her sister had to endure in her father's home. And I try to be patient and help her through it all because she and her sister have been through alot of hell in the past few years of their young lives.

Arica - posted on 03/11/2010

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My 9-year-old daughter has the same problem. She suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brought on by abuse she's sustained in her father's home. She, too, has Sensory Integration Disorder. I have been trying to get her into a therapist because I know she needs one badly. When she is upset, she has a complete meltdown. She will cry and scream and it seems to take longer and longer for me to calm her down. One thing I do is just sit and hold her tightly. Try talking to her and assuring her that everything's OK. One trigger one time was that I would not let her have a piece of candy. That just made her go ballistic and the more I watched her, the more I could tell there was something more wrong than just not getting that piece of candy. I try to get her to tell me what is wrong so it doesn't all dump down on her at once.

I would definitely not just leave your daughter to calm herself down when she has a tantrum. That can make her very sick. I would try to hold her and talk soothingly to her. Maybe take her into a quiet room and play some soft music. I know that you may have to hold onto her tightly, but playing the music and talking to her should help her calm down. Once my daughter gets the meltdown out of her system, she is fine and plays like nothing happened. I try to watch triggers, like you do, but I agree it's not always easy to tell when something will happen.

Iridescent - posted on 03/10/2010

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Melanie, your son and your ways of dealing with it sound very similar to mine. I'm glad to know other people have had such improvement as well, although we really don't know why when it wasn't "supposed" to happen.

Nikki - posted on 03/09/2010

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We also found the holding possition to work for Emanuel. Not only did it but the tantrum in half but it also taught him how to learn to control himself. We also found letting him tantrum it out in his room by himself helped and it too will teach him self control. Try to take it one tantrum at a time and just BREATH!!!!! It will get better and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Rhonda - posted on 03/08/2010

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It may also help to know that chidren who experience sensory and other processing disorders[My son is Autistic] become hyperstimulated more easily than other children. My son's neurologist put him on a mild dose of an anxiety med. This has helped! It won't end the problem, but it may lessen the level of frustation that you ad your child experience! I hope this helps! God bless you and your family!

Natascha - posted on 03/08/2010

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This is so familiar, so I am going to respond. I did respond to a problem like this yesterday and copied the post. My son also has a speech delay, still does. We he was little I had the same problem. He would get tantrums and most of the times in public. Later I found out this was the result of his speech delay. He was frustrating because he could make himself clear to you. He could not express himself to you. This is very frustrating, resulting in his acting out. What I did was when that happened, took him out of the situation, kneeled to his eye side and asked what was wrong. He would then explain in his way a problem. I would explain in my words comfort and what I was doing at this specific location at that moment, let him calm down and continue from there on. His tantrums became less and less. Even though they are children, they want our respect to, also, how do you say that, be part of the group and have a meaning or thought about the situation at hand. I see you've been trying something like this before, just keep at it. For my son, at the end it worked and his tantrum dissapeared totally.

Iridescent - posted on 03/07/2010

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You're getting there. There is a little more you can do. This website has a good list you can take what you like from. The holding worked excellent for my son (his tantrums literally lasted 1-2 days at 2 years old) within 15 minutes or so each time, and we no longer need it (he's now 10). We also use it occasionally with our younger children because it really does work, and it's something that makes them feel loved instead of punished as well.



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