Food Allergies and SPD

Siobhan - posted on 02/19/2009 ( 1 mom has responded )

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Hello,
I have a three year old daughter who has sensory issues - mild to moderate, but compounded with her other issues, such as extensive allergies, it seems completely unbearable at times. Yesterday was difficult but positive when she had a complete meltdown while her therapist was at the house. (The only frustrating thing was when the therapist, "had to leave," at the end of the session when both my daughter and my 4 month old son were screaming in my arms.)
I was wondering if anyone else had issues with food allergies and sensory? How do you handle things? Do you see the same sequence of:
1. reaction to food/environmental allergen
2. reduce movement (necessary sensory input)
3. inability to sleep and/or regulate their bodies
4. behavior meltdown
I have been told that to mediate this sequence I need a very structured day along with a successfully implemented sensory diet. However, due to both allergies and sensory issues, her nights vary - some nights she sleeps great. Other nights, when she is reacting, are difficult. Thus, we never know what the morning will bring.
On top of that, the activities that we feel would be most beneficial (deep input) we have trouble doing because of her instability at night due to a reaction to some undiagnosed allergen, or because the activity itself poses an allergen (such like swimming and chlorine).
I just feel like I am in a circle and we are just going round and round. I feel we cannot get the sensory aspect under control because we cannot get the allergies under control and the allergies are what upsets her system and leads to the sensory disruption.
On top of all of that, she has a substantial language delay which makes it really difficult for her to tell me what she is feeling, or to express herself.
I love her to no end, but I just need help navigating this world. How do I get around the allergies? How to I put her on a successful sensory diet if I cannot predict how her night and thus, the next day will go? I feel like the only way to do it, is to have such a scheduled routine - something that would be much out of character in our family, but I would do if utterly necessary. However, if you do have experience with this...does the scheduled routine really work for sensory even if you cannot get the allergies under control? When do you forgo allergies to tend to the sensory component or vice versa?
I hope this makes sense...sleep deprivation has done a number on my thinking and expressive abilities. :)
Thanks for the help
Siobhan

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Jennifer Miller - posted on 02/19/2009

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Hey! YES! We do... I have SEVERE food allergies (more than 22 at latest count) and SPD. My son has some milder allergies along with more moderate SPD and severe speech delay etc etc. He refuses most foods do to smell so it makes it really hard. The stuff he wants to eat he shouldn't. I see #2 & #3 in Logan. I have all four.



I agree with the structure. It REALLY REALLY helps! I have seen big improvements in Logan. I haven't had a full weeks full night sleep in over 5 years! He still doesn't sleep through the night and has great difficulty going to bed and waking up in the morning.



That's funny, I am allergic to bleech/chlorine... I break out in bad hives in a heated pool and especially hot tubs!! Outdoor unheated pools are tolerable, depending on the levels.



Man,, the more I read, the more our stories are the same! Take heart! The best thing I can tell you is to try to stick to the diet as much as possible, but focus on the OT and definately get into ST. It has been almost 2 years of therapy and though I've seen big improvements, we have a long way to go! But you'll get there!!!



I can not eat: Wheat/Gluten, Soy, Dairy, Egg, Carrot, Green Pepper, Nuts, Peanut, Soy, Corn, Potato, most fruits (I'm not kidding), Pork, Shellfish, etc etc ....



I have to make a lot from scratch, since most stuff still has corn or potato in it. But if you plan out your meals, and set aside a day for baking your breads, etc, its not bad, but it does take getting use to. I have really started to enjoy it now. I have a 5 year old and 3 year old so I am running around a lot, but getting family or friends to help watch the kids while you bake/cook is even more helpful till you get used to it.



But I can't stress it enough. We have a word book for Logan, which is a 3 ring binder with plastic pages that have velcro dots. The ST gave us lamenated squares with pictures of foods, drinks, places, basic needs (thirsty, hungry) and a velcro strip on the front. There is a square with "It's time to"... and you put the next activity by it. If its eating, you put the Lunch/Dinner/snack/ or breakfast square with what they will eat and drink. It has been a lifesaver for us. Also, learning sign language too. But as for the schedule, we remind him 10 minutes, and 5 minutes of a change. The reason is that he can't tolerate change, so he needs more transition time. Following the schedule gives him a recognized pattern so he doesn't feel "unbalanced". It can bee too much / overload.



Let me know how things are going!!!!

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