Jsack's Mom's Blog

Welcome to my blog where I share my special needs parenting journey with my heart, truth, and love, one story at a time. ❤️

Sensory Processing Disorder in the classroom

My son has had a long journey in his five years. He was born a month premature and didn’t open up his eyes for his first five days on the earth. Even back then he knew he was sensory overwhelmed with his welcome to the world. Most Moms have babies crying when they make their exit from the spa into the brightness of a hospital OR. Not my son he was sleeping in my OB’s arms as he was brought over the sheet to check his vitals. 

From that day forward he found his voice and expressed himself fully with the power of his lungs. He was a cuddly baby that never like to be put down to sleep and was rolling back and forth at 4 days old! Then he grew into a bash and crash toddler that scared me with his antics of climbing up a five shelf bookshelf and jumping onto the couch. Now he’s grown up so much I wish time could slow down and I could swaddle that sweet baby he used to be. 

He’s 5 now and recently diagnosed with autism and co-morbidities to watch out for, and attending kindergarten and I have routine  that I do for him in the morning to prepare him for the day. He’s not a morning person after two years with obstructive sleep apnea so every morning is a little more jarring to his central nervous system. We start slow and easy in the morning with the routine of wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and get his backpack ready for school. All shown with his visual pictures to keep him on task. 

Regulation 

 He needs to be emotionally and physically regulated with his central nervous system before he steps into his classroom so I have a morning cuddle with him and give him a deep pressure massage to wake up his senses slowly. He then gets fed, dressed, washed, and then coat, shoes, backpack are put on. If he’s feeling antsy I have him jump on his minitramp for 1 minute. That amount of time can balance him out and then crab walks to the door with some heavy work to prepare him for sitting. 

Stimulation

Now that’s he’s awake and ready to start his day he can become overly stimulated by what he sees around him. I help him focus by putting on his glasses so he can single out each object. His classroom is a busy place so I know this cuts down on all the visual distractions. Noise and commotion are difficult input for my son to process so he has his noise cancelling headphones in his backpack to block out the overstimulation. If he doesn’t wear them he will stim and compete with the noise with his vocal power to cancel out the offending auditory trigger. 

Oral Fixation

My son tends to chew on his sleeves, cuffs, collar of his clothes so after he’s dressed I make sure he has his chewlery. He’s a shark and ocean marine life lover so he has his shark on a cord and wears it as a necklace. He doesn’t always like to wear it but I tell him that sharky’s there to help if he feels nervous. It saves his clothes and gives him the sensory input he needs for his low muscle tone in his jaw. 

Motor Planning

He has difficulties with  transitions so I make sure that I use visual supports to keep him on task. First we use his visual picture cards so he can see his morning routine. Then I draw them on the white board in a 3 step format of first, then, after. As he completes each task he erases it feeling accomplished and ready to start his day. 

Zones of Regulation

Each day my son and I will go through the zones of regulation where he will tell me what each colour is to express a feeling or action. When he’s unable to express how he’s feeling verbally he will tell me a colour. 

  • Blue is feeling sad or tired. 
  • Yellow is feeling scared or nervous. 
  • Green is happy and smiling.
  • Red is angry and frustrated. 

Verbal Diahrrea 

My son enjoys talking so I need to show him how to take turns with having a conversation as his receptive language skills are severe. He can have tunnel vision and want to be the only one talking and expressing his thoughts. I have a Popsicle stick that he coloured with one side is red and the other is green. He holds the stick and when it’s green he’s a go for talking. When it’s red then he has to stop and let someone else talk, namely his teacher. 

The visuals keep him on track and help with his slower processing time. We all know the adage it takes a village to raise a child. When you have a child with special needs that village grows. Now we prepare for him to be assessed by the school psychologist so he can qualify for an aid in the classroom. It’s not an easy process because sometimes my son doesn’t want to be organized and given direction so it becomes more of a dance. He takes a step and we each take turns leading. One thing I know that everything we do is to prepare him for success in the classroom. 

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthlygathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution  . Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo!

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Sensory Processing Disorder and me-friend or foes

I’ve shared a lot about what it’s like being a parent to children with SPD. One is an avoider of sensory input and one is a seeker and can’t get enough input in his bucket. He keeps emptying his bucket over and over throughout the course of the day. Whereas his brother after a long day of school has a bucket that’s overflowing and can’t take one more cup of input. This is when Mom becomes the referee and I need to separate my sons before World War 3 happens! I do my best to keep them emotionally regulated but it becomes a full time job and I wind up exhausted and depleted. Like my oldest son I also have SPD Sensory Defensiveness in particular. Loud, sudden high pitched noises bother me, more than one person talking to me at a time is like chaos for my brain and body. My central nervous system processes sensory input most of the time effectively. Then there are those days when the world is too busy, loud, bright, and overwhelming. Sometimes I feel so hypersensitive to the world around me I can hear the energy crackling like a campfire. 

Those are the days I put up my hood and read a good book with a cup of herb tea or escape to my bed with my soft, fuzzy blanket and put on my headphones and listen to my meditation music. I need comfort in those moments when my ears feel like they’re bleeding from listening to my children squabbling over the iPad while three different TV’s are playing in the background. I have to resist the urge to bite my fingernails with the anxiety I feel inside. All I want is to chew on something soft and rubbery like an eraser but I don’t because my kids have gnawed on all the pencils like a couple of beavers. In those moments when I feel like the world is closing in on me and I can’t breathe I rock myself gently and I sing. Whenever I was a little girl my Mom would hold me on her knee and rock and sing with me. She’d rub my back and give me deep pressure Mama bear hugs. I’d give anything to go back to those memories and pluck her out them so I could have her in my comfort zone. But unfortunately that’s not possible as she travels a heavenly path while I’m earth bound. My Mom never made me feel like I was wrong or different. She told me I was a special child of God and my “quirky” nature made me uniquely me. When I was a child I spent a lot of my time reading the Classics like Shakespeare, Dickens, Louisa L. Maycott, and Lucy Maude Montgomery. 

I related so much to those characters who thought out of the box and wrote stories and climbed trees like I did. The poetry and beautiful descriptive writing of William and Charles made me want to write like them and capture the worlds interest with my words. So I wrote getting lost in fantasy worlds, epic battles, and fascinating history. This is when the world was a quiet place as I scribbled away in my notebooks filling pages with my prose and poetry. I’m still like this as an adult where I require quiet time daily and my sons are forthright about asking for their private bubble to decompress in. The stress chemicals can build up throughout the day and we need to release them or end up sending our central nervous systems into sensory overload. No one wants that to happen so we give each other the space that we require. Now you add in a few more letters of the alphabet like ASD, ADHD, ODD, and OCD you’ve got a melting pot of hot soup that no one can handle. Those are the times where I ask my children what they need to make their bodies feel better. Or how fast is your engine using the zones of regulation, of which my youngest son has a thorough understanding of this concept. 

Since facial expressions can sometimes confuse him and his recessive language with conversational verbal fluency is severe. He will then tell me what colour he is or ask me what colour I am. It’s an excellent way for him to communicate and be receptive to others feelings.  A breakdown of the colours and their meanings:

Blue- feeling tired or sad

Yellow-feeling nervous or scared 

Red-feeling mad and angry

Green-feeling happy and smiling

With my oldest son who has a better grasp on receptivity I have a diagram of a thermometer and I will ask him how fast his engine in his car is, and he can tell me or show me using the zone regulation colours. Sometimes are tempers are short, our explanations are long winded, and our bodies not regulated  and we react to the stress and pressure of the hot soup and we blow up. That’s when it’s important to remember forgiveness and our brains are just wired a little differently. It’s amazing what love, a deep pressure hug,  and a cup of hot chocolate will accomplish when words fail to save the day. That’s when I feel that even when SPD appears to be a foe when dealing with the chaos and it’s just too much ; I take that moment to breathe letting myself inhale the positive and exhale the negative and realize that it’s my friend after all guiding my family and I to better days ahead filled with love and patience.
Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo!

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Wearing my heart on my sleeve 

I’ve always been an emotional person the wear my heart on my sleeve kind of gal. There’s times where I think I need to have a thicker skin or put my heart away so I don’t get so easily hurt. It comes part and parcel with being empathic I feel people’s feelings, and I can “touch” people’s energy. I know when someone isn’t good for me or my loved ones and I can stay clear. 

I do my best to give people the benefit of the doubtand not judge a book by its cover. It will still happen to me and someone I love, that’s the way of the world unfortunately. Today was just like any other day before preschool filled with excitement an anticipation.  My son loves going to school and he wears and shows his feelings with his whole body. He was so excited to stomp up the stairs and count with me. He loves seeing his teachers and playing with his favourite toys there.  For the last month him and I have considered this a safe, fun, and educational place. Today though something happened and I’m still trying to process it. 

I have something brewing in my mind and my heart. If I don’t get it out I think I will combust! I was sure as I mulled it over to see how I could’ve handled it differently it would evolve into a blog post at some point. Today I was waiting with my son for preschool to start. There was a couple of families there and a little girl was staring at my son. He was standing there stomping as it’s his new thing that he does to feel comfortable in his environment, to gain sensory input. It’s an eclosed narrow hallway so his stomping is quite loud with its sound vibrations. 

I asked him to please quiet his feet inside and a classmate of his looked at him and announced to her Mom that he was crazy. The Mom (who did not acknowledge me besides with nervous laughter) said to another parent at that age crazy is good. I stood there stupefied, angry, and hurt for my son. I told him you’re awesome and don’t let anyone change that! My son isn’t crazy he’s very busy and full of kinetic energy and must move to learn. He has Sensory Processing Disorder #SPD and this how his eight senses react to sensory input. 

We all know we have our five basic senses of touch, taste, sight, hearing, sound, and smell. There’s many more types of senses but I’ll focus on the other three I was referring to:

  1. Propriocepetion- gives you the ability to know where your body is in space within your environment in relation to your other body parts. Think of the song Head, shoulders, knees, and toes. 
  2.  Equilibrioception- relates to our vestibular sense that’s found in the inner ear. This sensory sense is all about our ability to balance and have agility. 
  3. Interoception- relates to our body’s sensory system to know when we’re hungry, thirsty, or the urge to eliminate. 

My son is constantly seeking sensory input as all these senses build up inside his brain, body, and central nervous system and cause a traffic jam. Some of his senses are strong and some are weak and how he needs to seek out input looks different to everybody.

 This misguided observation we encountered didn’t bother my son at all. He doesn’t see himself any differently from other kids. He continued stomping while I stood there stewing in my furiousness for this hurtful remark. He made music with his feet, all be it loud music and made a little girl dance. Then that started a chain reaction and another classmate started twirling and he was still smiling and stomping. 

Although I saw his happiness I felt my heart crack for my child. He’s not different he’s different abled and is receiving therapy from his team so that he can function better in a world that can at times misunderstand and judge him. On Oct. 8 th it’s Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness please spread the love, awareness, and educate for SPD. 

   
  

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