My aggressive SPD preschooler: Does it get better?

Joanne - posted on 11/09/2012 ( 8 moms have responded )

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Hello! My almost-four-year-old boy was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder two and a half months ago and started Occupational Therapy shortly after his diagnosis. His main issues are vestibular and proprioceptive. These issues manifest themselves in aggressive behavior to his peers -- hitting, kicking, pushing, grabbing. He has been going to OT twice a week for an hour each session. He's been doing Therapeutic Listening twice a day for over a month and we've been brushing every 3-4 hours for the past few weeks. We've also incorporated a home sensory diet with lots of heavy work, trampoline, swinging, etc. These interventions have had a positive effect on his home behavior, but I have yet to see it make any consistent, positive impact when he's with his peers -- particularly at preschool.



I'm wondering if any other parents out there have been in a similar situation that is now greatly improved. I wonder how much of the behavior is SPD and how much is just being a preschool-aged boy? Any success stories of older SPD kids who were aggressive, but overcame it after therapy/time would really help me to power through this confusing/difficult time.

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Niki - posted on 12/17/2012

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I know how demanding it is. slow down. our worlds will not explode if we don't bake cookies for the school party, sew that costume for the Christmas concert, cook a gourmet dinner for the in-laws, fold 18 loads of laundry, buy a new dress for holiday party, scrub the kitchen floor and the windows, AND meet our husbands in lace lingerie every night. no one ever wished that they worked more or cleaned the house more on their death bed. do what you feel is important, even if that means you've ordered in for the fourth time this week, the laundry is piled on the stairs, and you had to give a box of Oreos for the bake sale.
work on one challenging behaviour at a time. Only one!!!! you will feel like you are battling less, and he will feel a real sense of accomplishment when he gets it. Strategies will come, maturity will happen, things will get easier.

Hugs

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Angela - posted on 12/17/2012

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NP = Nurse Practitioner. Sorry (Im a healthcare recruiter and tend to overlap that into real life lol). I have bought those books and am a reviewer for Sensory World and New Horizons - Autism and Aspergers resources….I just haven't had the chance to fully read them yet…have a stack of materials that I'm working on.

We have an IEP that was just approved for preschool…we're gearing up for Kindergarden…the problem is having both ADHD and SPD - it makes my son that much more challenging to deal with and for him to deal with life. Our son has had auditory listening therapy, has had ongoing OT but just continues to struggle constantly and we struggle to find enough time to do all the constant sensory activities at home he would need -- given we both work and are trying to take care of him, and our home it's tough -- he is constantly in demand, constantly seeking, moving….it's exhausting. And when he doesnt get his way or 100% attention all the time - he starts acting out, throwing things, screaming, running. It's a vicious cycle.

We really need to start up with a new OT, and new child psych. asap. We are trying to do that now, plus trying to do all we can at home - but sometimes just run out of time and energy to do constant sensory play/home OT.

Niki - posted on 12/17/2012

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the first book I talked about, gives about 2000 sensory encouraging options. Does your son exhibit more sensory seeking, over-responsive, or under-responsive behaviour?
Excuse my ignorance, but what is NP. It's not a term I know, but it may be a cultural difference.
Both you and Joanna need to know, its all gets better, BUT be prepared for struggles trying to advocate your your child in the public school system. Insist on an IEP (indepentant Education Plan) even if your district does not recognise DCD or ADHD as a identified designation. Insist on adaptations to his regular routine and curriculum. There are just too many demands in the early grades that will send a kids with SPD into a tizzy. Look around a kindergarten classroom, it is often cluttered and busy, a lot going on. the class in noisy and bright, smelly and sticky. be prepared to be a good advocate. It was my one downfall, I thought because he was "identified and had an aide, that my job was done, but as it turned out, it was just the beginning.

Angela - posted on 12/17/2012

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Thanks *hugs* We need to talk to our NP and see if she thinks we should try a longer acting med. We also need to ramp up our home OT activities besides the swing and the trampoline. The ADHD/ODD part of him sometimes makes him balk at these activities, but we just need to find what he likes and is willing to do…..it changes frequently.

Niki - posted on 12/16/2012

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to Ang - there are longer acting meds in the same category as Ritilin, try researching Biphentin (that's what my son is on) or Conserta (not sure of spelling), but the drugs only go so far. he is behaving this way because his body and mind are giving him conflicted messages. you can do some of the OT yourself. Try a book called "the out-of-sync child has fun", it's the follow-up to "the out-of-sync child." I found after reading those books that my understanding of what was going on with my little guy greatly improved and I was able to develop strategies for home and school. I was also able to predict triggers and help him to avoid them. The time of day when his meds are coming out of him are the worst, but luckily, they are predictable. we schedule nothing for him at that time and let him have quiet time or get him engrossed in a favourite activity during that time to avoid Violent outbursts. most important, make him feel safe, validate his feelings , and give him lots of love. you will all get thru this. :)

Angela - posted on 12/16/2012

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Our son is the same age - and is a lot like this. He was diagnosed also with ADHD and Oppositional defiance disorder. He started taking ritalin and it helped greatly while he's on it during the day at preschool/daycare. But when it wears off - he's back to aggressive behavior, needs 100% constant attention. Our OT quit the practice and ended his OT….so we need to get back into OT asap - I think it makes a big difference. I just think age, maturity are going to be what is needed, and routine, never giving up. (or at least I am praying so….because I am praying the rest of our life together as a family isn't going to be this rough).

Joanne - posted on 11/16/2012

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That's great to hear! It's so hard to have perspective when we're right in the middle of the "terrible threes" AND new to the SPD diagnosis and sensory diet. So glad to hear how far your son has come. It gives me hope!

Niki - posted on 11/15/2012

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It gets better!! my son is 9 1/2 now, and by "feeding his Sensory diet" daily since he was 4, his symptoms are almost unnoticeable. He has just started the intermediate grades of school and his academics are more demanding and he has stopped daily visits to the school's sensory room. I have seen only mild changes in his behaviour, where as two years ago, they stopped letting him go, and I saw huge and immediate changes in his behaviour( hitting his brother, easily frustrated, violent temper tantrums) and when I demanded they reinstate his daily visits the behaviours stopped.

The lashing out your four year old is experiencing is likely a combination of being a four year boy and being frustrated by his own sensations. My son was later diagnosed with many other things in addition to SPD - developmental coordination disorder DCD is a sever fine and gross motor skill delay which quickly tried him out and made holding a fork or art brush difficult, ADHD which added to his frustration level and recently has been been diagnosed with a very mild form of autism.

we have many strategies in place to help him cope, and his as always the teacher's favourite student and I'm often told "he is a delight to have."

Keep going... Listen to the professionals...Educate yourself...Be his advocate. It gets better. with strategies, everyone will soon get to see that fabulous boy that you get to see.

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