Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sensory Processing Disorder and summer

Most kids look forward to getting out of school and enjoying summer break.

Most kids revel in the lack of a set schedule during the summer.

Most kids love to be able to sleep in and stay up late.

I am not most kids.

Do not get me wrong. I enjoy not being in school and I enjoy being able to sleep late in the mornings. The problem is, without a schedule I do not know what to do with myself.

See, if I am unsure of what is happening I get anxious. The anxiety builds and then I am hyper and things that I can usually control start bothering me.

One may ask how that has anything to do with sensory processing disorder and that is a very good question. The reason I need some sort of schedule, even a flexible one, is so I can regulate myself. The goal for me is to be able to live as close to a normal life as possible and the sooner I learn to do that, the better. Learning how to control my sensory issues, which include auditory, visual, and tactile defensiveness, is key to being able to function in society.

I mean really. It is not like I can start throwing myself on the ground or against a wall when I need vestibular stimulation. It is much better for me to swing or jump on a trampoline. Yet, those activities are not always an option depending on where I am.

Through trial and error we have discovered that for me it is quite beneficial to be active first thing in the morning then have a break where we work on some summer school activities, after that more activity.

The activity ranges from playing outside on the swing set to organized play to going to a playground or even swimming. There are some activities such as baseball, football, and soccer that I am unable to play because of my heart, but other than that I can play most games outside.

I have a bicuspid aortic valve with stenosis, so we have to be careful about contact sports and activities.

The key to relieving anxiety and minimizing SPD issues is being flexible and acknowledging limits. There are mornings that I wake up and I just do not want to do anything, thankfully my mom can see that and she is flexible with her schedule most days to be able to accommodate it. When she cannot, she has a backup plan. Mom seems to always have a backup plan.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Camp… Anxiety… SPD… and Me, Part 2

The best way to face any challenge is head on, at least in theory.

As preparation for camp, mom made sure I had a lavender bath Sunday night and that I went to bed at a good time. Unfortunately, I was so worked up I still could not sleep and ended up keeping her up most of the night too.

Monday morning finally got here and the anticipation was made worse when we had to drop my brother off at his camp 30 minutes before me. So we sat. And I was anxious. What if it was noisy? Would I have any friends? Would they like me? Would it be too loud? Would it be fun? What if I could not handle the music? Would the teacher be nice?

And then, it was time.

Mom took me in to meet Ms. Beth. She was in charge of the art and she already was aware of my sensory processing disorder from what mom told me. When I met her she seemed nice; there was a lot of stuff going on in the art room, but that is how art rooms are supposed to be. I told Ms. Beth that this was the first time I was doing anything without my mom besides going to school or kids church. I think she noticed I was nervous.

After I got to see the art room, we went to the music room where everybody was waiting to start the day. Ms. Jackie was in there. I met a couple of the kids, but I was a little shy and stayed to myself at first. I did relax some, to the point that I did not realize mom had left until after we started our art project of the day.
When I mom picked me up I was happy to share that I made a friend and we had a couple things in common. I really enjoyed art! We painted pottery pieces with *Spots Pots Mobile Pottery*. Music was a little hard for me because it was loud and it hurt my head.

Tuesday morning when mom took me to camp she spoke with Ms. Jackie and let her know about my sensory processing disorder. She understood and told me that if it got too loud to just let her know and she would let me sit in her office. It really felt GREAT having a teacher understand my needs.

The anxiety subsided after Tuesday and while there were still some sensory issues going on, things went great. It was really difficult for me to not eat the salt that we were using to make texture with on one of our paintings. It felt so odd, too.

The best thing of camp was that I made two friends; one wanted to stay in touch and made sure my mom had his dad’s information. I thought that was cool. Plus, I want to do it again next year! It was fun. Camp is not as scary as I thought it would be.

We also got to have an art show and a concert to show our family and friends what all we did this past week. It was fun. Mom and Dad got to see me sing and play an instrument or two. That was so cool.

These past two posts may not seem like much, but for those that know Benji you know how taxing it is for him to adjust to something different. He absolutely hates change. In a realization this week, because of me always being there and helping him when his SPD flares up, I have caused Benji to grow up in a sheltered bubble. He is not one of those children that always gets his way and such, it is just a matter of his experiences have been limited because as his mom I have been concerned, afraid, terrified, whatever to let the chips fall where they may. True, he is only eight, there is nothing wrong with your child being a child. Lord knows too many kids grow up way to fast these days anyway. All I am saying is that, my eyes were opened along with Benji's. - Benji's mom

Friday, June 14, 2013

Camp… Anxiety… SPD… and Me, Part 1

Mom signed me up for Summer Arts Academy this week.

When she told me about it, I was worried. The first thoughts that went through my mind were that my mom was sending me away. I did not want to be sent away. I had never been anywhere without my mom except church and school and that does not really count because with church mom is in the building and school we have to go. I mean I have gone to friend’s houses but only a couple and my mom, or dad, usually stays because I like it that way.

Needless to say, the thought of camp was scary at first.

Mom told me all about the art stuff we would get to do and then that there would also be music. I was excited about the art, I love art. It is so much fun to make stuff and all. The music part, I was not so excited about.

I have sensory processing disorder. I am auditory, visual, and tactile defensive. I have gone through a LOT of occupational therapy when I was younger, and mom has continued, to desensitize the tactile. However, what I see and what I hear cannot really be desensitized. There are ways to cope, but if it hurts, it hurts.

All of this to say, music is a gray area. I love music, as long as it is on my terms. It is something that I need to be able to control or be able to remove myself. But hey, I am eight, I sometimes do not handle situations correctly and when I am already anxious about a situation it can make it worse.

The anxiousness was evident when we went to church Sunday. I could not tolerate the worship music and had to wear my headphones. Mom started to get concerned; she knew that if I did not relax that camp would be a wash.

Things my mom does to calm me
A few tricks that mom does to help me when I get anxious or ‘hyperkinetic’. No one thing works exclusively but it does seem to help.

A warm lavender Epsomsalt bath – Epsom salt allegedly helps remove impurities from your body and then lavender helps relax you.*

Lavender soap – we use a homemade lavender soap that has lavender and evening primrose oil in it. In our experience the soap aides in calming Benji down. (Lavender Lullabyfrom Neika’s Naturals)*

Lavender Deodorant – this is new to our regimen. There needed to be something that could be used during the day that would not put Benji to sleep, but would help calm. So far, it seems to do the trick.*

Exercises – Proprioceptive feedback helps, such as: Jumping Jacks, Wall Pushups, doing Sit-ups on the exercise ball, jumping on the trampoline, and running. All of these exercises give feedback into the nerves and joints that perhaps everyday activity does not necessarily give.

Massage – deep pressure massage. In Benji’s case he prefers a deep massage, the brushing technique as we were shown does not help, it makes him worse.

Hug Vest – A silicone pressure vest that gives hugs essentially. (Personally, I would talk to your therapist before trying this.)

Weighted Blanket – We have an old homemade quilt that is HEAVY. On Benji’s bad days I will usually find him in his room, under his bed in the corner wrapped up in this quilt.

*Be cautious with Lavender, some people are allergic to it.