Problem with fears, is this an SPD thing?

Dineen - posted on 12/11/2009 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My son is 6. He has been diagnosed with SPD through OT and his Pediatrician. Lately we've had a resurgence of fears. Noises, shadows, dirt, could be anything. He refuses to do stuff alone or go into rooms alone. What can I do to get him through this?

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Siobhan - posted on 12/28/2009

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Identifying the exact symptoms of SPD has been one of the toughest challenges I have faced as a mom with a Sensational child. Our daughter, who is almost four and was diagnosed with SPD a little over a year ago, has a lot of fear and worry - more so than other little ones I have noticed. I really believe that this extreme worry, fear is the result of her SPD since SPD causes children to be "more sensitive to their environment."



However, knowing that this is a symptom, I have still yet to find a successful "cure" other than a STRICT routined scheduled - the OT has told me that they have to know and be prepared for what to expect and this helps to eliminate outside fear. This makes them comfortable with their environment and better able to adapt.



I understand your concern though over the nature of your child's fears - in our case, our daughters fears really compromise her ability to function. Once my daughter has a fear of a place, or a person in a place (i.e. gymnastics, school, gym childcare, etc.) she refuses to ever go back or participate again and it is extremely frustrating as a parent trying to get your child to socialize.



Best wishes - you are certainly not alone

Lynn - posted on 01/10/2010

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I do believe that the fears is an SPD thing. Though it's possible to be anxiety and maybe anxiety and SPD go hand-in-hand? My 8 year old (3rd grade) still has many fears. He was diagnosed with SPD at the end of 1st grade and diagnosed with anxiety in 2nd grade. I agree with Siobhan that SPD kids are more sensitive to their environment and can result in many more fears than other kids the same age.

I've found that my son's fears do ebb and flow over time. Sometimes he's not as fearful, sometimes everything seems to make him afraid. One constant one was the fear of the dark and shadows. We've always let him have a small bedside lamp on throughout the night while he sleeps. That had helped and just in the last 2 months he has started to want to turn it off at bedtime. So this is a big step for him. Now and then when he has had a rough day, he expresses the fear that a horrible creature will come through his window and attack him. On days when he is especially fearful we will sit in his room until he falls asleep. We try to explain again and again, which things are fake/pretend and which things are real, which things cannot possibly happen. Hubby will often try to turn things around and make it into a joke so that our son is soon laughing.

The only things that I've found to help his SPD symptoms (including fear) are routine and scheduling, and preparing him. I try to let him know what will be happening in his day as much as I can. A change in routine almost ALWAYS results in a meltdown, "But you said we were going to do X." I warn him before we go to noisy, crowded places, before turning on the vacuum cleaner. I warn him before we do anything or go anywhere different that might give him anxiety. The more prepared he is the better he's able to handle it.

My SPD son has always been the type to hang back by my side and watch the activity (whatever it may be) before deciding if he would like to join in. Before he was diagnosed, I would try to encourage him to join in with the other kids, but the more I urged him the more he stuck by my side and refused to budge. Now I know to give him time to warm up to a situation, not rush him.

As your son matures and receives therapy, things will be easier. I've noticed a huge difference in our son from age 6 to now at 8 1/2. He used to have meltdowns 2-3+ times a *day*, now it's maybe 4 times a *week*, sometimes less.

Stacey - posted on 12/31/2009

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My son has spd and autism, and he has many fears as well. He is absolutely terrified of dogs, he's fearful of cats, he's scared of the dark, he's scared of toilets flushing automatically, he's scared of bugs, he's scared of noises he can't immediately identify, etc. The dog fear is so bad that there are days he cannot walk outside the house to catch the bus because he sees a stray dog walking by... needless to say, I have become a huge fan of dogs on leashes or in backyards... unfortunately most of my neighbors let their animals roam free. Some of his fears have subsided over the years (he's 8 now). He was terrified of band-aids until the age of 6 to the point that he wouldn't touch me if I had a band-aid on! I think the fears are easily associated with spd, especially if you try to figure out the reason for the fear. My son does not like the unknown, he only likes things and people that are predictible. He doesn't even like to be near younger children because he cannot predict what they will do and it causes him a great deal of anxiety. My son is also hypersensitive in many areas... including touch. A dog nipped at his finger when he was 3... and to this day he remembers exactly what happened and whose dog it was, and he is still terrified of dogs. A cat scratched him when he was 5... now he has a fear of cats.

All I can do is try to understand the reasoning behind his fears and to calm him when situations present themselves. I work hard at trying to educate family members who think he's just being "silly" with his fears... they don't realize he cannot control them (and really... who can control their fears?). Keep encouraging your son to work through the fears slowly... especially the fears that interfere with normal life (the dirt, being alone, etc...) and talk to him about them. My son just went to the bathroom alone at his grandma's house for the first time 2 weeks ago. Her bathroom is down a dark hallway, and he's always been too afraid to go by himself (even though he'll go to the bathroom alone at home (because it's off the living room and well-lit).

Good luck to you... I agree with the other reply ~ you are not alone. :)

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Robin - posted on 01/26/2010

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My nephew has autism, and his parents decided to try a treatment called the Bax 3000. They go through their chiropractor for this. Apparently, it has been helping his stress levels and fears to the point that even his teachers have noticed a difference. I don't know much more about it, but the website is biovedawellness.com. I know they have also tried Zoloft with good success in reducing his anxieties. Hope this helps.

Janie - posted on 01/25/2010

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I think anxiety is common with spd kiddos. It's ok. just encourage him, talk it out, let him express himself and help him to be as comfortable as you can. With OT and time, he'll be more comfortable and more brave. Our OT told us that our son didn't know where his body is in space (he has lots of proprioceptive issues) and he's not comfortable in his own skin. How could we expect him to be comfortable in different scenerios if he wasn't even comfortable in his own body on a subconsious level? With time and lots of OT, he's become much more comfortable within his own skin, therefore more able to handle the sensory load and the unknown! Hang in there!

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