Once again, Sensory Processing issues interfere with life

What I know for sure is, he tried with every fiber of who he is but the way his brain interprets the feeling of shoes and socks on feet, simply overwhelms him. 

I don’t know of what we’re going to do. The school said that even if we get him to school barefoot, they will work on his shoes and socks at school. The problem with that is that Emmett will not go barefoot outside or at school. We’ve tried this before and have never been met with luck. 

It’s something that we tuck away in our bag of tricks and try it again from time to time. Frankly, we have a huge bag of tricks but none of them work on Emmett, at least not very often. 

Lizze and I don’t want to punish him for not going to school because it’s not his fault, but at the same time, he’s home from school and it can’t be fun and games either. 

I know how difficult this is to understand because it seems like there’s an easy solution. 

What I can say is that these situations are very real and so many kids face similar challenges. Imagine walking around all day with rocks in your shoes. There’s nothing you can do to remove the rocks from your shoes, you just have to learn to deal with it. Everytime you walked or moved your feet, it was painful and it gets to the point where you can’t even function. 

That’s the best way that I can think to describe what Emmett’s experiencing. His brain interrupts the sensation of shoes and socks on his feet as pain. 

All we can do is try to help him work through this, every single day. Over time, we hope that he’ll become better able to cope with these feelings and that he’s been at least somewhat desensitized. 

There’s simply no way to know what’s going to happen in the future. 

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mathewpenny648

Interesting. My girlfriend’s son has sensory processing issues. He’s grown now, but she was just mentioning to me that sometimes when combing his hair when he was young, he got upset and it hurt him and he cried and cried. Reminded me of your situation.

adriannecollee

Did you have issues with him yesterday morning when he had a field trip? I know that his issues are very real, but it really does seem like he has at least a tiny bit of control over them. It might be worth setting new ‘daytime’ rules in the house for when he’s home for sensory issues. You can stay home, but there is no tablet or tv until the time when school is out. And I asked this before and it got buried in the comments, but when he’s home, why not have school at home? Surely his teachers could throw together the day’s work for him so that he is still moving forward. Being ahead will eventually become being left behind when you’re missing an average of a day a week. If nothing else, get some workbooks and have them on hand for when he’s not in school. Just something so that he realizes that being at home is not going to be a free day.

Gracie

Hey Kim, I hope it’s okay to nest this comment under yours – I can’t seem to post otherwise. I love all of your suggestions, by the way!

I know this has been frustrating and exhausting for all of you.

I’m wondering if, while this is partially due to SPD, is it possible that – whether consciously or otherwise – what started as SPD has morphed into a combination of that, plus the “secondary gain” of all of the attention that he gets in the morning/the bag of tricks, and the attention and whatever other benefits he gains from missing school?

I understand he enjoys school very much, but having more time (and with only one other sibling) with you and Lizze might be a lot more valuable to him right now. I know you’re trying to minimize some of fun and games at home when he’s not going to school. But I’m also just very curious about the different kinds of attention and other gains from staying home too. Also, has he always been unwilling (unable?) to go barefoot outside or indoors but outside the home?

Jimmy Rock

Interesting suggestion by Gracie above. Although my guess would be that there’s not really an attention seeking component here, I do think, generally speaking, that Gracie (and Kim too) is on to something regarding your approach to Emmett’s sensory challenges. If you feel you’re doing all you can with the SPD, then turn your focus to the component of the challenge which may be within your control to help him change — the psychological component. I know you have a handle on the understanding of SPD, and because of that understanding, the fact that you would resort, at times, to attempts at bribery, suggests that you know, or at the very least, think, that Emmett might be able to overcome his sensory issues, at least at times, if motivated the right way. When he’s having difficulties with socks and shoes, it always seems like (obviously I don’t know what happens all the time, but this is my impression based upon the information you provide) that you and/or Lizze are right there by his side, helping him through it. What would happen if you gave him some sort of motivation to get his socks and shoes on, left the room, and let him figure it out? Might give him a little independence and perhaps a desire to have some ownership of his challenges. Also sometimes, if you push too hard in trying to get past the pressing SPD problem of the moment, the child can reach a “point of no return” where he or she is psyched out, is completely frustrated and upset, and there’s no way in hell that anything further can or should be attempted.

And be careful presuming that there are no social concerns because of this. Not just talking about missing school, but the psychological impact on a kid knowing that he can’t do something “so simple” as putting on socks and shoes when everyone else can, etc. could have an effect socially, particularly when he knows that it causes him to miss out on things. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t, and that’s great. Just saying to watch for it.

paulinabisson5

Okay. It’s like this. Emmett has $100 to spend on coping throughout the day. Every night he goes to sleep and the balance is generally replenished. It’s these days that he tends to do okay with sensory stuff because he’s got resources to cope.

There are however, some days where we wakes up bankrupt and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done to help him through it. These are days like today.

As I mentioned above, they are more frequent lately but still the exception to the rule.

You’re right about the psychological impact and that’s why we handle it the way we do. He’s so upset with himself because he can’t do this seemingly simple task…

Jimmy Rock

The $100 analogy is an interesting way to explain it but I’m not sure it applies in its entirety. It doesn’t seem like you’ve ever described his sensory experience as a gradual wearing down over the course of the day until he succumbs to sensory issues. In other words, it doesn’t seem like Emmett is more likely to experience sensory issues later in the day, when his “money” would more likely to be depleted from the “expenses” of the day.

Rather, I think it is as you’ve generally described – you simply don’t know which morning will be a tough one for him.

It is interesting that you use the analogy though – sensory issues can be compounded by the cumulative effect of sensory overload, which would mean that it would be a good idea to engage sensory related activities/exercises throughout the day and before bedtime.

I know how frustrating this is for Emmett – and you. And I understand that you’ve worked hard to help him, and I know that sometimes these issues are just not resolvable. But it really does seem like there just this level of acceptance that this is just how it is. Is that resignment based on your OT’s opinion? Has your OT given up on the possibilty of the existence of any other approaches as far as home strategies? If so, have you spoken to more than one OT?

paulinabisson5

No. There are nights when he doesn’t sleep or has bad dreams and wakes up depleted before even starting the day. Do a Google search for fibromyalgia and spoons. That’s a really good example…

No one’s given up on anything but the situation is as I describe it. We fight one battle at a time and sometimes live minute to minute. What we’ve accepted is that Emmett comes with certain challenges and he may or may not overcome them at some point.

Our OT is top notch. We’re at Akron Children’s Hospital and there simply isn’t any better in our part of the state.

Jimmy Rock

Thanks for the response, although I think you might have missed my point. I’m familiar with the spoon theory which is basically the same as your $100 analogy. I’m not doubting in any way that some mornings he wakes up already “depleted”, as it were.

That’s good you have a top notch OT. I wasn’t challenging the quality or ability of your OT. If you’re satisfied with your OT that’s awesome. Just keep in mind that even the top 2 people in any discipline might look at the same issue with a different perspective.

And of course there’s a big distinction between accepting a child’s challenges for what they are and giving up on working on them. I wasn’t accusing you of “giving up.” I acknowleged that “sometimes these issues are just not resolvable.”

But if you have reached that point of acceptance, what do you tell your child so as to try to ease his frustration? What are you teaching him about accepting and taking ownership of his challenges? What about his feelings about frustrating his parents with his challenges (even if you try to hide it I’d bet he sees it), realizing he’s holding up his whole family’s morning, etc.?

Jimmy Rock

Rob, don’t feel compelled to comment again. I just think it’s good you write about these issues. I think in this age of emerging autism awareness I think the sensory processing component is still one of the least understood by the general public.

paulinabisson5

This has been an issue since he was born. It’s very consistent. There’s no attention seeking anything here though. He really wants to be at school and we usually try for at least an hour or so. Sometimes it works and other time it doesn’t.

Not working through it is becoming more common but still the exception to the rule.

paulinabisson5

That’s a good idea. He doesn’t think it’s fun and games though. He doesn’t want to be home. He just can’t wear anything on his feet.

bwiren

Interesting. My girlfriend’s son has sensory processing issues. He’s grown now, but she was just mentioning to me that sometimes when combing his hair when he was young, he got upset and it hurt him and he cried and cried. Reminded me of your situation.

kimmy gebhardt

Did you have issues with him yesterday morning when he had a field trip? I know that his issues are very real, but it really does seem like he has at least a tiny bit of control over them. It might be worth setting new ‘daytime’ rules in the house for when he’s home for sensory issues. You can stay home, but there is no tablet or tv until the time when school is out. And I asked this before and it got buried in the comments, but when he’s home, why not have school at home? Surely his teachers could throw together the day’s work for him so that he is still moving forward. Being ahead will eventually become being left behind when you’re missing an average of a day a week. If nothing else, get some workbooks and have them on hand for when he’s not in school. Just something so that he realizes that being at home is not going to be a free day.

Gracie

Hey Kim, I hope it’s okay to nest this comment under yours – I can’t seem to post otherwise. I love all of your suggestions, by the way!

I know this has been frustrating and exhausting for all of you.

I’m wondering if, while this is partially due to SPD, is it possible that – whether consciously or otherwise – what started as SPD has morphed into a combination of that, plus the “secondary gain” of all of the attention that he gets in the morning/the bag of tricks, and the attention and whatever other benefits he gains from missing school?

I understand he enjoys school very much, but having more time (and with only one other sibling) with you and Lizze might be a lot more valuable to him right now. I know you’re trying to minimize some of fun and games at home when he’s not going to school. But I’m also just very curious about the different kinds of attention and other gains from staying home too. Also, has he always been unwilling (unable?) to go barefoot outside or indoors but outside the home?

Jimmy Rock

Interesting suggestion by Gracie above. Although my guess would be that there’s not really an attention seeking component here, I do think, generally speaking, that Gracie (and Kim too) is on to something regarding your approach to Emmett’s sensory challenges. If you feel you’re doing all you can with the SPD, then turn your focus to the component of the challenge which may be within your control to help him change — the psychological component. I know you have a handle on the understanding of SPD, and because of that understanding, the fact that you would resort, at times, to attempts at bribery, suggests that you know, or at the very least, think, that Emmett might be able to overcome his sensory issues, at least at times, if motivated the right way. When he’s having difficulties with socks and shoes, it always seems like (obviously I don’t know what happens all the time, but this is my impression based upon the information you provide) that you and/or Lizze are right there by his side, helping him through it. What would happen if you gave him some sort of motivation to get his socks and shoes on, left the room, and let him figure it out? Might give him a little independence and perhaps a desire to have some ownership of his challenges. Also sometimes, if you push too hard in trying to get past the pressing SPD problem of the moment, the child can reach a “point of no return” where he or she is psyched out, is completely frustrated and upset, and there’s no way in hell that anything further can or should be attempted.

And be careful presuming that there are no social concerns because of this. Not just talking about missing school, but the psychological impact on a kid knowing that he can’t do something “so simple” as putting on socks and shoes when everyone else can, etc. could have an effect socially, particularly when he knows that it causes him to miss out on things. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t, and that’s great. Just saying to watch for it.

Jimmy Rock

The $100 analogy is an interesting way to explain it but I’m not sure it applies in its entirety. It doesn’t seem like you’ve ever described his sensory experience as a gradual wearing down over the course of the day until he succumbs to sensory issues. In other words, it doesn’t seem like Emmett is more likely to experience sensory issues later in the day, when his “money” would more likely to be depleted from the “expenses” of the day.

Rather, I think it is as you’ve generally described – you simply don’t know which morning will be a tough one for him.

It is interesting that you use the analogy though – sensory issues can be compounded by the cumulative effect of sensory overload, which would mean that it would be a good idea to engage sensory related activities/exercises throughout the day and before bedtime.

I know how frustrating this is for Emmett – and you. And I understand that you’ve worked hard to help him, and I know that sometimes these issues are just not resolvable. But it really does seem like there just this level of acceptance that this is just how it is. Is that resignment based on your OT’s opinion? Has your OT given up on the possibilty of the existence of any other approaches as far as home strategies? If so, have you spoken to more than one OT?

Jimmy Rock

Thanks for the response, although I think you might have missed my point. I’m familiar with the spoon theory which is basically the same as your $100 analogy. I’m not doubting in any way that some mornings he wakes up already “depleted”, as it were.

That’s good you have a top notch OT. I wasn’t challenging the quality or ability of your OT. If you’re satisfied with your OT that’s awesome. Just keep in mind that even the top 2 people in any discipline might look at the same issue with a different perspective.

And of course there’s a big distinction between accepting a child’s challenges for what they are and giving up on working on them. I wasn’t accusing you of “giving up.” I acknowleged that “sometimes these issues are just not resolvable.”

But if you have reached that point of acceptance, what do you tell your child so as to try to ease his frustration? What are you teaching him about accepting and taking ownership of his challenges? What about his feelings about frustrating his parents with his challenges (even if you try to hide it I’d bet he sees it), realizing he’s holding up his whole family’s morning, etc.?

Jimmy Rock

Rob, don’t feel compelled to comment again. I just think it’s good you write about these issues. I think in this age of emerging autism awareness I think the sensory processing component is still one of the least understood by the general public.

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