Hope found in a diagnosis – Sensory Processing Disorder

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Jude52I’ve been very hesitant to write this post because I want to be sensitive to Jude but I also want to share information that other parents might find useful. So for now I’m just going to share MY story.

For years Joe and I have struggled with parenting Jude. He’s a very sweet, kind and fun-loving child but he has always been a little bit MORE than most kids. Both Joe and I are easy going laid-back people so to have a child that is outgoing and full of energy was a huge curve ball in parenting. We read books about parenting the “spirited-child”, consulted friends, and tried many different parenting techniques but little was helping us properly meet Jude’s needs. I began to feel defeated and like I was doing something wrong. I questioned every parenting decision I made and was consumed by trying to find something that would work for Jude. It became so overwhelming at times I would break down crying because I felt like a parenting failure. “Why was my kid having so much trouble with everyday kid emotions and interactions?” I was emotionally and physically drained.

Everyone told us that Jude was just “active” or “just being a boy”, which was of no help at all. Of course he’s being a boy, he is one. I’d fully expect a preschool boy to be running around full of energy. But when all the other little boys stopped running mine kept going. Why?

I feared that when he went to school they would try to label him and want to medicate him. So I started reading. I read A LOT. I read about ADD, ADHD, Autism, Spirited Children, Learning Disorders, Bi-Polar, Ect…. but none of those diagnoses fit Jude. It wasn’t until Jude started Kindergarten that I ran across an article about Sensory Processing Disorder. I’d heard of SPD but didn’t know anything about it. As I read about the “Sensory Seeking” child it was like someone had been watching Jude. I felt relief and a little overwhelmed.

What does it mean for a kid to have Sensory Processing Disorder? I didn’t know anything about SPD or how to treat it. Where do you start?
I talked with Joe.
I talked with Jude’s teacher.
I talked with my parents.
I talked with other people with children that have SPD.
I searched the internet.
I checked out books from the library.

For several weeks I studied SPD before finally deciding to call an Occupational Therapist. Even though I was convinced that Jude has SPD, I knew I needed to hear it from a professional. Before learning about SPD I didn’t know what an Occupational Therapist was. I didn’t know if I needed a referral from our pediatrician. I didn’t know if it would be covered under insurance. I didn’t know a lot of things but I knew I needed to do something, so I just called.

A few days ago Jude and I met with an occupational therapist for an evaluation. He took a few tests, played with some toys and talked with the occupational therapist. The test results haven’t been finalized yet but the therapist said that just by observing him she could tell he will certainly qualify for therapy and is a sensor seeker. I felt relieved and hopeful as we left the therapist’s office.

No parent wants their child to have a special need but to know that it’s more than just behavioral is kind of a relief. I feel hopeful now that we have a diagnosis that we can work together with the occupational therapist to help Jude. It’s going to be a lot of work but instead of spinning our wheels I think we’ll make some headway in the right direction.

Parenting is tough work ya’ll.


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  1. Beautifully written Jessica! May God richly bless you, joe and all your boys as you lead Jude to what will support him best! Way to persevere and follow your instincts! Way to go mama!

  2. Parenting *is* majorly tough! So glad you followed your gut and sought out the answer. It’s hard to admit things aren’t perfect. I know this myself from dealing with speech issues with my son. Over six months of therapy behind us and we’re still going & working, but it is improving and we can see a huge difference. Prayers for you all as you begin this journey.

  3. Jess, you are a wonderful mom! You have so much wisdom in seeking out the best help for Jude. I’ll be praying for you all in this next adventure. 🙂

  4. It was very brave of you to consult someone and get the help for Jude that he needs. Great job, Mama. You stood by your instincts telling you there was something more, and because of that, Jude will receive everything he needs for this. You did great 🙂 Kudos. Prayers to you on the journey.

  5. I think it’s great that you were able to seek help and get validated. I’m sure its hard to struggle with something and worry that your child might be more than just spirited but nto have anyone around you agree with you. I think sometimes friends and family feel uncomfortable saying “yeah, I’ve wondered if there might be something more, too” because they don’t want you to think that they think “less” of your child but it’s not helpful at all when EVERYONE says that just to spare feelings and as a result you end up feeling alone. Hopefully therapy will be a big help. 🙂

    1. It’s a tough spot. I’m sure people have had their concerns but I doubt many of them knew a solution either which is probably why no one said anything. We are hoping therapy will help and obviously as he gets old he’ll learn to function better too.

  6. I am sure this will be very helpful for others. I am sure it is relief to have some information and an actual plan. Jude is blessed to have such great parents!

  7. I am so glad you found a diagnosis you can work with to benefit your son. My youngest seems overly active and I hear all the time he’s just being a boy. Granted he has two older brothers he is trying to keep up with. But I stil wonder by the time he gets to school whether he will have the ability to sit still and focus. You’ve given me some food for thought and thanks for sharing your story and experience.

    1. It’s so hard to tell sometimes. What is “normal” anyway? Every kid is different so that’s what makes it a challenge in knowing what to do.

  8. Hi Jessica. Coming over from Sverve blog and just wanted to say Hello. Good luck with Jude. I had never heard of SPD until earlier this year either but I suspect my youngest has a slight touch of it after reading up on it. Her “symptoms” seem very mild but it would explain why she behaves the way she does in certain situations. Going to take a look around! 🙂

  9. My son is now 15 yoa but when he was about your child’s age he was diagnosed with SPD. It was a relief because I wasn’t sure what was wrong with my son. He was very sensitive to lights, noise and sound. I began occupational therapy with him shortly after he was diagnosed, in addition to developmental therapy. I had therapists in and out of my house almost every day working with him. It was a lot of work and struggle, but I sincerely believe it helped my son. He’s 15 yoa now and has blossomed into a popular sports athlete who does very well in school and in life. In short, there is hope and the proper help can make a world of difference.

  10. We are in Raleigh too! My 4 year was diagnosed as sensory seeking last year. Hang in there, your are your child’s biggest advocate!

  11. I guess this is the moment of reality. My daughter was evaluated by a team of specialists as a sense seeking SPD child, luckily for us since most parents find out much later after much more trouble. However, it really didn’t register for me until I took her to a specialized “play group” for other children like her. It was then that it really hit home. I could clearly see that my child fit in. She was like these children at the play group, and not like the children at other play groups. I had to see it, and not be told it… I had to experience other children of the same sort, in order to fully understand the contrast with non-SPD children. However, as far as I understand, SPD is more prevalent in boys than girls. And the play group was all boys, except for my daughter. And all mothers, except for me… I guess the two of us will be in the minority together…

  12. There were several parts of this that I felt as if I were writing myself. I have 2 boys ages 5 & 6, both have autism and SPD along with ADHD, pica and one has global developmental disorder. Thank you for sharing your story and God bless you and yours.

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