Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What the hell does "sensory issues" mean?

The therapists told me that Ryan had sensory issues. Early intervention is not allowed to diagnose children, they just point you in the right direction. I had no idea what sensory issues were. So like anyone in our day and age, I turned to the Internet for understanding. I googled it and many different websites came up. I spent hours after Ryan went to bed looking it up on the Internet. In this research I came across sensory processing disorder. I remember reading the description and just staring at the computer. It described Ryan pretty good. Overall the descriptions of sensory processing disorder were very confusing. I had a hard time understanding what it meant for my son. Most of the descriptions state that the child has trouble processing information from their senses so they have trouble learning. These descriptions were too vague for me. I later found out that they are vague because there are six different types of sensory processing disorder. The type Ryan had was sensory modulation disorder- sensory over responsivity (try saying that ten times fast). He mainly was affected in the senses of tactile, motion, and sounds. After looking everything up I still did not understand how Ryan saw the World, how he felt everyday. I knew that it was hard for him to sit and watch fireworks but why was it hard for him? What was going on.

Finally after Ryan had started seeing his new OT friend, I asked her. She was the first one that described it to me so it could make sense. She told me that to imagine I was driving and a car was coming straight at me. She told me how all of our senses go in slow motion and everything is intensified in a life or death situation. She then told me that Ryan feels that way 24 hours a day. That all of his senses are intensified. Because his brain is using so much power to process his senses, he has trouble learning other things. Then his "meltdowns", as she referred to his two hour tantrums, was when he was in overload at all the information coming at him. After she told me that it started to make sense. Ryan's brain was overloaded and that was why it was hard for him to do certain things. His repetitive behavior helped calm his brain down. And that was why he would do things over and over and over again.

Also with research I found the close link between autism and sensory processing disorder. I found out that most kids with autism have sensory processing disorder but not all kids who have sensory processing disorder have autism. This was the most worrisome news I found. Autism had been getting a lot of attention lately and I knew a lot about it. I worried that Ryan's problems did not stop with sensory issues. The best piece of news I found out was that most kids learn to live with this disorder by the time they are seven. The disorder does not go away, Ryan will always view the world this way, but he will learn to live with it so he can be a productive member in society.

At the time I hoped that Ryan only did have sensory processing disorder. I figured if I could get through these couple of years then we would be all set.


  1. I too have a son who I believe has SPD. (have an appt to see a developmental specialist soon) His therapists too have said quite a few times that he has "sensory issues." I finally did some digging on line and SPD fit my son!! I am finally beginning to understand some of the things he does.
    He was born 3.5 months premature and is 14 months old. He's still is not crawling, or sitting himself up, still very far from standing and walking. He can't stand for ANY texture to be in his mouth so he will not eat food, only drink. He has repetitious movements and will only handle soft things like blankets, it is a challenge to even get him to hold his own bottle, these are a few things that have tipped us off something wasn't right.
    Thank you for letting me read about your stories as I lean how to live with a child with SPD.

  2. Hi Jill,
    I hope you are able to find things out about your son. It is never easy to hear that your child is not developing normally. But it is good to get answers because then your son can receive the help he needs. Having a child with SPD is challenging and rewarding at the same time. I wish you and your son good luck :)

  3. I received a phone call from my sons teacher (he is in kindergarten) and she said that after talking to the first grade teacher about him and some of his issues (breaking crayons and peeling the paper off them and cutting everything insight) that she thought that the teacher might recommend getting him evaluated next year for sensory issues. I'm am completely lost and don't know where to turn and what to do. Do I wait until fall when he enters first grade and let the teacher do what she wants or should I make him an appointment with his pediatrician? Like I said I am lost, could you give me a little bit of advice?