When a Woman Whispered How She ‘Can’t Stand Parents Who Can’t Control Their Kids’

I remember the day I finally got the answers I needed about my 4-year-old son’s behavior. April 1, 2016. That day I took him to have his evaluation done, thinking he would be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), like his 9-year-old sister. As I gave his therapist all the information she needed, I saw a light turn on in her head. After doing a few tests of his response to touch, she turned to me and said, “He does not have ADHD. He has sensory processing disorder (SPD), and it looks like he might be on the autism spectrum.”author's son in car

My head was spinning. Surely I would have noticed if my son had these diagnoses, right? She explained to me how sensory disorders often look like symptoms of ADHD. My mind jumped back to the day I made the appointment. I was checking my 9-year-old out of school, my son and my 2-year-old in tow. My son started to cry and throw a fit while we stood in the bricked hallway of the school. The secretary came out of the office and instructed me to wait outside, since my child was being a disruption. I walked outside with my head down to wait.

After this three-hour evaluation and the diagnoses, I went home and straight to Google to research what sensory disorders are all about. Within 30 minutes, my son’s entire life made sense to me. All four years of it — the reason why he rarely slept, or why he likes to wears his Halloween spandex costume or long sleeve shirts. That day at the school made sense. The noises in the hallway bouncing off the bricks and making it sound distorted had hurt my son and caused him to have a meltdown. He changes his clothes a thousand times a day. It made sense! Finally, I knew how to help my child. I knew exactly what to watch for and what to expect.

I was relieved to have answers. I was also upset and confused because all this time I thought I was parenting “wrong.” “Maybe these people whispering about my parenting skills in public places were right,” I often thought. No, it had nothing to do with bad parenting — but everything to do with being unaware of something I couldn’t see.

On the Monday following that appointment, I had my own appointment for the OB/GYN. My husband couldn’t take off work, so I took my son and 2-year-old with me. I was confident in my newfound knowledge and had sensory items packed to try and make it easier. I sat down in a seat with another row of seats behind it connected at the back. My son had my phone watching YouTube with headphones in his ears to block out background noise. Then the phone froze. He could hear everyone around him and began to have a meltdown. I frantically rushed to get YouTube playing. When it did, his muscles relaxed. No major meltdown!

However, an older lady sitting behind me decided to “whisper” to her daughter, “Would you like to move? I can’t stand parents who can’t control their kids.”

It was loud enough for me to hear. I politely turn around and responded: ” Actually, I do have control of my kid. He has a sensory disorder and is autistic. Since the month of April is Autism awareness month, you might want to look into the statistics for both. Possibly educate yourself on what they consist of. One day you might be the person having to defend your grandchild against people’s hurtful words.”

The lady got quiet and moved with a look of embarrassment on her face. For the first time, I felt proud of myself and confident with the answers I needed for so long.

I can hold my head high and free my mind of any worry  I once had that I was a “bad” parent. I explain to people who make rude comments towards me or my child exactly the reason why my child is having a meltdown. I no longer feel embarrassed when I have to sit in the entrance of a store, swaddling my son, calming him from a meltdown because all the race car carts are gone and he doesn’t like the texture of the regular cart. As people walk in the store staring, I just let them stare. It makes no difference to me. I am parenting, and every child requires different parenting. Knowing is the most empowering tool a parent of a child with special needs can have. When all the pieces fit, life is easier.



To the Lady at the Pool Who Spoke Up During One of My Lowest Parenting Moments

I’ll never forget that summer.

It was hot, I was 9-months pregnant with our third child and supposed to be on rest. My OB had instructed me not to lift more than 10 pounds.

The concept of rest is laughable to any mother, let alone a 9-month-pregnant one with a 19-month-old and 3-year-old, who would later be diagnosed with sensory processing disorder.

I neglected to tell my doctor that I spent most days underarming my 3-year-old out of public places, with a diaper bag slung on one shoulder, my daughter’s hand in one of my own and tears in my eyes. Every public meltdown, every set of eyes on me, made me feel deflated. At that time, I felt my son’s behavior was a reflection of my parenting skills.

That summer my husband got us a pool membership. The plan was to have the kids wear themselves out in the kiddie pool and water tables. I could plunk my pregnant self in the kiddie pool with them and “rest.”

In reality, I’d manage to wrangle my toddlers and all our pool gear into the car, drive to the facility, lug everyone through the building and out back to where the pool is located only to have my oldest melt down, after which we’d get him out of there, all the way back through the facility and home.

The other moms would look away in an attempt to be polite. They would rifle through their diaper bags or start up a quiet conversation with their children, pretending not to notice us. It was impossible not to notice us.

We arrived at the pool one excruciatingly hot and humid morning. My son immediately melted down, and all the moms did their pretending-not-to-see-it thing. I tried to talk him down, but it wasn’t working. Cheeks flushed, heart pounding, I tried to calm myself down. Defeated but determined not to convey it, I set my jaw and collected our belongings. My son continued melting down. I was moving as quickly as I could for an extremely pregnant woman.

The pool moms continued to look away as I struggled to lower my 9-month-pregnant-body down to his level to pick him up. Once I had him, I grabbed my daughter’s hand and our bags.

“Excuse me!” I heard a female voice from the opposite side of the pool call out. I hesitated. I was trying not to cry. Reluctantly, I looked up and met her eyes. The woman was walking toward us with gusto, arms swinging.

“Bravo, mama! Bra-vo! No one here will say this to you,” she said, as she gestured toward my silent audience with one hand, “but you are doing the right thing. You’ve got this! Good job, Mom!” And then, she started to clap her hands. She applauded my parenting at one of my lowest parenting moments to date.

I thanked her. She had validated my parenting when I was questioning it and feeling small.

“Thank you,” I mouthed again, for my words were now gone. She nodded and turned on her heels and walked away.

When I finally made it back to my car and managed to get the kids clipped into their car seats, I put my head to the steering wheel and did the ugly pregnancy cry thing. I realized I had been feeling quite alone with this spirited, strong-willed 3-year-old. On this day, I felt supported and was extremely grateful for that woman’s words. I wanted to go back to thank her properly, but my son was still melting down in his seat and I was far too emotional to be coherent.

Do you know how often I think of that stranger and her kindness? It has been five years, but I think of her all the time.

I think of her when I’m in Target and someone’s kid is “acting up.”

I think of her when I am checking out at the grocery store and the mom with four “whiny” kids in tow is behind me; I see that look in the mom’s eyes and I know she’s struggling to hold it all together.

I think of her every single time I see a pregnant woman managing toddlers.

I think of her when the frazzled looking mom in the minivan cuts me off and then apologizes with a wave. I can see the ruckus going on in her backseat. I know how loud it must be in her car, how difficult it must be to think, let alone drive.

I think of her when I see a mom whisking her crying child out of mass on Sundays.

I think of her every time I see a child “pitching a fit” or a mother who looks exhausted.

We have all been there, haven’t we? And some of us have been there more than others.

Do you know what? I always say something now. Always. And, if I can’t say something due to distance or whatnot, I make eye contact and send that mom a genuine you’ve got this smile. I know how much a kind word can mean in a dark moment, and I know kind words are contagious. They can alter behavior.

I don’t know where the woman from the pool is today. I wish I could thank her. I wish I could let her know the words she spoke to me on that day changed me and my behavior, forever. Thanks to her, I am not fumbling with my purse, trying not to notice the elephant in the room. Now, I know better.

As kids, we were taught if we don’t have anything nice to say, we shouldn’t say anything at all. I’d like to add an addendum to that saying for all the mamas out there:

If you are thinking kind thoughts, always share them. If you have something nice you could say, say it.

Think about how lovely this world would be if everyone poured forth all the kind thoughts and observations that they keep in the silence of their minds.




Is Sensory Processing Disorder Considered A Learning Disability?

For some children, playing in the dirt or attending a noisy birthday party feels like the ultimate form of punishment. That’s because, for these children, a sensory processing disorder (SPD) may affect the way they interact with the rest of the world in a major way. And when it’s time to introduce these kids to the bright, noisy expanse of a classroom, parents may be understandably wary. Because SPD may affect your child so strongly,you may wonder if sensory processing disorder is a learning disability. This question is straightforward, but the answer is anything but.

As a quick review, sensory processing disorder is a condition that makes it difficult to interpret and respond to information from the five senses, as noted in WebMD. The signs of sensory processing disorder in kids include clumsiness, strong food texture preferences, and difficulty engaging in play. In general, persons with sensory processing disorder are over- or under-stimulated by everyday sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations.

Although this condition may present all kinds of obstacles for kids in a classroom, the way SPD is currently understood and categorized prevents it from being considered an official leaning disability. For starters, there is dispute over whether SPD should be categorized as a disorder at all. And because SPD is still being researched and not listed as a condition in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), no one can be officially diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, as explained in Child Mind. Sure, your occupational therapist or social worker may informally treat your child for the symptoms of SPD, but it is not yet considered an official diagnosis or condition.


What’s more, sensory processing disorder is also not categorized as an official learning disability. According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), learning disabilities are neurological conditions that make the acquisition of knowledge and skills particularly difficult. As further explained by the LDA, conditions such as dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, and language processing disorder are specifically considered learning disabilities. So although a sensory processing disorder may interfere with your child’s ability to learn and function in a traditional classroom setting, SPD does not qualify as a designated learning disability at this time. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), SPD alone will not qualify your child for special education services.


Of course it’s important for experts to carefully consider the factors that make up a true learning disorder, and these reviews take time. Unfortunately, there are plenty of children with SPD symptoms who are struggling in the classroom right now. They probably don’t care whether they have an official disability or not; they just want to understand their lessons. How can you help these kids in the meantime?

There are two broad approaches you can take to get your child official help with sensory processing issues at school. First, be aware that SPD often overlaps with other conditions such as AHDH or autism. If your school is able to test your child for other conditions that are covered by IDEA, then you may be able to secure an Individualized Education Program that provides occupational therapy, as noted by Understood. This therapy may also help address the SPD issues that interfere with your child’s ability to learn. As further explained by Understood, you may be able to get a 504 plan for your child without an additional diagnosis, as these offerings tend to be less restrictive.


Granted, all of this may feel like you have to go around your elbow to get to your thumb. And yes, a lot hinges on official labels and diagnoses. But the end goal — providing a quality education for your child — is worth the hassle.




How Stimming Has Improved My Social Life – Autism Spectrum Disorder

If you told me two years ago — before my autism spectrum disorder diagnosis — that all I needed to do was to chew in order to have a better social life, I probably would have thought you were telling me to chew tobacco. Then I would have thought that was silly. But in the last few months or so, I have been chewing (also known as stimming) as much as I please, and without shame.

Stimming means “self-stimulatory behavior,” and I believe almost everyone does it in some way. Even a neurotypical person might somehow fidget or stim. It’s very common and natural. However, it is different for autistic people. The most recognizable autistic stims may be hand flapping or spinning, but there are many more. I even consider listening to the same song 20 times (or more) in a row to be a common stim for me. It calms me; it makes me feel like myself.

I have come to realize that chewing on my chewable necklace from Stimtastic — a store that makes stim toys just for this purpose — calms me greatly during times of sensory overload. When am I overloaded? Often! This happens a lot in supermarkets and other crowded places. The most dangerous place it occurs is in the car. I have extra trouble at stop lights, when cars are buzzing by, horns are beeping, etc. I can’t just run away from the overload while I’m in a giant piece of machinery!

But now I chew on my necklace and have been able to drive farther from my safe bubble than I have in a long time! I’ve been as far as 80 miles away to visit family. In fact, I can’t get enough of this new ability I have, thanks to being able to stim. Sure, I get looks. I can see out of the corner of my eye. People may think it’s odd to see a grown woman chewing hard on her jewelry, but I don’t care. Stimming has improved my quality of life — my social life, in particular. Driving to see family is something I won’t ever take for granted. I can’t wait for the holidays this year, which is not something I could have said a few years ago.

Do you stim? Don’t be ashamed, even if it’s not seen as “normal” by some people. The more of us who are willing to shamelessly stim, the less stigma will be attached to it!



Should I Expose My Oversensitive Child to the Things That Upset Her?

My preschooler has sensory processing issues. Is it better to expose her to the things that upset her or try to avoid them?

In general, I recommend that families consider what’s bothering their preschooler. Are these things that need to be done?

For example, if wearing a jacket really bothers your child and you live in a place that has cold winters, then you’ll need to find a way to get her to be more comfortable with wearing a coat.

But if she doesn’t like loud noises and flashing lights, then maybe it makes sense to avoid the fireworks display on the Fourth of July. In other words, it’s important to pick your battles.

Keep in mind that how parents act and react can affect their child’s behavior. Here’s an example: If a parent rushes to clean her child’s hands every time they get even a little dirty, the child may have a harder time learning how to tolerate dirty hands.

For many parents, it’s hard to know when and how to intervene without being overprotective.

It’s also important to remember that your child may need help learning to tolerate different sensations. One way to help is to slowly get her used to the thing that bothers her. This is sometimes called “desensitizing.”

It may start with having your child hold her winter coat. Then put just one arm in. Give praise with each step and allow your child time to get more comfortable. Eventually she may be able to put the whole coat on without too much protest.

Depending how severe your child’s issues are, you may need a therapist to help her work on this. Pushing too much too soon could add to her anxiety and make it harder to make progress. For that reason, I recommend talking with her doctor about your concerns.

I also want to mention one tricky thing about sensory processing issues. This phrase—sensory processing issues—can mean different things to different people.

Some professionals may use official-sounding terms to describe a child who is oversensitive to things. For example, some occupational therapists may describe a child as having “sensory integration disorder” or “sensory processing disorder.”

But there’s no medically recognized diagnosis that describes sensory processing issues as its own disorder. Many doctors and psychologists consider them symptoms of something else.

Here are a few of the possibilities:

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD): One of the symptoms of ASD is that a child may avoid certain smells, tastes or textures.
  • Anxiety disorders: These can cause a child to be oversensitive to certain things. For example, kids with anxiety may get very upset if they hear a leaf blower outside because they fear that something scary is coming to get them.
  • ADHD: Some kids with ADHD are very active and like jumping on trampolines or crashing into walls. Those behaviors could seem like sensory-seeking activities.

Being extremely sensitive can also be part of typical child development. For example, many preschoolers hate the way jeans feel. They might prefer to wear soft leggings instead.

I’m mentioning all of this because kids can be oversensitive for many reasons. So it can be hard to know whether it’s better to expose your child to things that bother her or to avoid them to keep her comfortable.

This is why it’s so important to talk with your child’s doctor. Together you can come up with a comprehensive plan to help your child with sensory processing issues.



Frustrated Mom Invents Shopping Cart That Helps Seniors And Special Needs Kids

Across the country, innovative products are being developed all the time that help people who are caring for loved ones in wheelchairs and scooters.

Individuals who are caring for the elderly, as well as parents of children with disabilities like this mother, constantly struggle to shop and keep them comfortable all at once.

Drew Ann Long was having a difficult time taking her daughter with special needs out with her on errands.

Along with watching her 2-year-old son, she needed to help her daughter along in her wheelchair while maneuvering a shopping cart at the same time.

She was eager to find something that would help her include her daughter in all of her errands, but there was nothing available on the market.

So she ended up designing something on her own that would help her, as well as people across the country, comfortably shop with loved ones in need.

The result is “Caroline’s Cart,” named for Drew’s young daughter with special needs. This amazing but simple invention is sweeping grocery stores around the world — and changing lives.

Continue reading below to learn more about these incredible shopping carts!

Facebook / Caroline’s Cart

Recently, a woman asked her local Harris Teeter if they had a cart that would cater to her 91-year-old mother, who likes to go shopping with her but can no longer walk among the aisles.

Fortunately, they carry a cool commodity called “Caroline’s Cart,” so she could shop around with her mother rather than having to leave her in the car!

Now, the world is demanding to know more about these special shopping carts, and where they can be found.

Facebook / Caroline’s Cart

While “Caroline’s Cart” is an ideal option for senior citizens in this situation, it was originally developed for children with special needs.

It’s a shopping cart with a large seat built into the base so that children or adults who may otherwise need a wheelchair or scooter can sit comfortably.

Facebook / Caroline’s Cart

This ingenious invention was created by mother Drew Ann Long, who was struggling to handle her daughter Caroline’s wheelchair while she was out shopping, especially with her 2-year-old son in tow.

Eager to include her daughter in every possible activity and errand that she could, but frustrated that there was nothing on the market that could help her, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

So she founded Parent Solution Group LLC, then began designing the innovative cart model with the help of Technibilt.

Facebook / Caroline’s Cart

Soon, Long’s dream of making a Caroline-friendly shopping cart became a reality!

Today, the carts are distributed around the country and can be found in such stores as Food Lion, Giant, Kroger, Target, Walmart, and many more.

Facebook / Caroline’s Cart

The cart is an amazing alternative for shopping with someone who requires a wheelchair or scooter.

“It provides parents and caregivers a viable option to transport a child through a store while grocery shopping, without having the impossible task of having to maneuver a wheelchair and a traditional grocery cart at the same time,” they write on their website.

Facebook / Caroline’s Cart

It is also useful for elderly individuals, and their caregivers or relatives.

It provides a way for them to move around a shop comfortably and accompany their relatives, caregivers, or spouses without having to use a scooter or wheelchair.

Facebook / Caroline’s Cart

Over one million children in the United States are disabled in some capacity.

So these chairs are incredibly necessary to so many parents and caregivers who provide round-the-clock care.

Facebook / Caroline’s Cart

And while many stores around the country currently offer Caroline’s Cart, Drew is hoping that all stores will eventually provide them so families with special needs kids or seniors can shop anywhere with ease.

Facebook / Caroline’s Cart

Look around your favorite store next time, there might already be a Caroline’s Cart kiosk set up for families to enjoy!

To learn more about Caroline’s Cart and Drew’s incredible inspiration behind it, be sure to watch the video below.

If you think every grocery store, mall, commissary, and department store should offer Caroline’s Cart, please SHARE this incredible invention with family and friends on Facebook!


Dollywood adds calming room to help kids with sensory overloads

It is called a calming room, and it is the first of its kind at any theme park in the world. All the sights and sounds of a theme park can be a little too overwhelming for children with autism, so having a quiet place to go can help them and their family.

Visiting theme parks has never been an option for Heather Shuler and her family. Her son Hampton is autistic and affected by sensory overloads.

“It might mean nothing to us, but some pitch that he hears that we don’t hear and it just kind of like makes everything in their brain start spinning for themselves,” Shuler said.

Hampton can take a break inside the calming room and regroup.

“The children as soon as they come in will just go into the teepee and be by themselves,” said Judy Toth with the Ride Accessibility Center at Dollywood. “Or we have the fiber optic lighting, and they will either sit or lay down and just look at the lights.”

Dollywood partnered with Autism Speaks to make sure the room had exactly what was needed.

“(It) has very sensory friendly objects in it, ones that kids would be using in their therapies for sensory integration,” said Maeghan Pawley with Autism Speaks.

It makes all the difference for families who have used the room.

“They talk a lot about how they’re in their own world, and you want to bring them out into your world but you want to bring them out where they’re feeling comfortable and we’re in it together,” said Shuler.

Some of them have written letters in a book inside the room. One of them read, “Thanks to you we were able to stay in the park later and calm Mikey.”

“It means to me that Dollywood is doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” said Toth.

While Dollywood is the first theme park in the world to have a calming room like this one, others are being designed right now at Legoland.



Eating Fruit Is Torture For Some People With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

It almost sounds like a good thing, not being able to eat certain fruits. But for people with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), it’s something they have to deal with every day and it makes eating even the simplest foods almost like torture. According to STAR, SPD “refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses” and “…exists when sensory signals are either not detected or don’t get organized into appropriate responses.” Having SPD can effect your ability to ride a bike, put on clothes, or eat.

When people suffer from SPD, texture can be a complicated thing. It’s not just feeling different textures on your body. It also can affect the nerves in your tongue and mouth. It makes eating a crazy activity.

In Teen Vogue, Gabriela Cantero describes her experience living with SPD, “Telling people that I have supernatural senses is always a great conversation starter but the condition itself isn’t all that super. It’s wildly overwhelming to have constant stimulants and distractions.”

This especially applies to food because eating is more than feeding yourself. Eating is socializing and appreciating the art of food. Thankfully, not every food elicits a chaotic response from my brain, so I am still able to enjoy a variety of dishes with people and food that make me happy.

One study shows that at least 1 in 20 children’s daily life is affected by SPD. Another research study suggests that 1 in every 6 children experience SPD symptoms.

So the next time you offer someone something to eat and they turn it down, don’t take it personally. It could be that they’re saving themselves from an unpleasant experience.



76 Seconds In The Brain Of Someone With Autism And ADHD

1. I wonder how many years it would take for me to go to every restaurant in this entire city.
2. Holy shit, I’m so tired.
3. I didn’t sleep enough last night.
4. I wonder why I didn’t sleep enough last night.
5. I wonder if I should talk to someone about that.
6. I wonder where you find someone to talk to about things like sleeping.
7. I should wear more red.
8. I wonder what that person would look like.
9. How old is old now?
10. Oh wait, never mind. Better question: How young is young now?
11. At what age do kids get their cell phones?
12. Wait, where are my shoes?
13. I wonder what my ex is doing right now.
14. God I love Leonardo DiCaprio.
15. Oh, there are my shoes.
16. What, where did this tab come from? * clicks eighth tab in browser *
17. Oh it’s this dog learning how to wear a harness. OMG that’s so fucking cute.
18. Maybe I should re-watch some of his old films.
19. Maybe I shouldn’t and should just go see Wolf of Wall Street instead.
20. I should bookmark that photo so I don’t forget it.
21. Did you see the poster for that movie?
22. Jonah Hill looks great.
23. He’s really killing it now.
24. Sometimes I feel bad for doubting him.
25. Oh, note to self: I should get flowers for the front table.
26. He was good in Superbad.
27. Sometimes I forget Emma Stone was in that.
28. Emma Stone is the shit.
29. I want to go to brunch with Emma Stone.
30. Wait, what is that sound?
31. Where do you find a best friend like Emma Stone?
32. I wish there were some type of store you could go to get friends like her.
33. I wonder what aisle she’d be in.
34. Maybe she’d be next to the snack options.
35.* Checks bookmarks * What is this link?
36. * Opens the same photo of the dog *
38. Right, Emma Stone. That’d be cool; it’d be like when you went to Blockbuster and the candy and the popcorn were right there so you could get it when you get your movie.
39. I can’t believe Blockbuster stayed around as long as it did.
40. I need to pee.
41. I wonder if anyone who worked at Blockbuster used to watch Netflix at home.
42. I wonder what Beyonce and Jay Z talk about when they’re by themselves.
43. I feel like they really love each other.
44. I can’t imagine them breaking up.
45. Jason Derulo.
46. But really what do we know about celebrities?
47. Is it good to eat coconut or not? I can’t remember.
48. I should start a blog.
49. * Makes a blog *
50. Is that my phone ringing?
51. I can’t even remember what life was like without the internet.
52. How did our parents go to college without computers?
53. I wonder if today’s twentysomethings could pass college back then.
54. Hulu Plus is such a scam you have to pay for it AND watch commercials.
55. I should smoke more weed.
56. But really, whose phone is that?
57. I’m hungry.
58. I wonder what I should eat.
59. I should go grocery shopping.
60. When was the last time I cut my toenails?
61. Why doesn’t Seamless allow you to use cash online?
62. Maybe I should just go out and pick up food.
63. I should check how many vacation days I have left this year.
64. Is it really necessary to wear pants to go outside?
65. I wonder what happened to my blog.
66. Crap, what is my password?
67. OK, I’ll just hit resend password.
68. Oh shit, I never answered this email.
69. Oh god, I didn’t answer this one either.
70. I wonder if animals were humans if they would feel naked without clothing on.
71. I wonder if society just decided we didn’t have to wear clothing what would happen.
72. I wouldn’t want to sit on a seat on the subway that some naked ass sat on.
73. I don’t want to go out tonight.
74. If Siri was a real person, would she be attractive?
75. I’m tired.
76. Oh cool, a text message.




5 Signs Your Kid Has Overlooked Sensory Processing Disorder

A lot of kids, dare I say all of them at one point or another, have freaked out about the texture of a particular food, the itchiness of a sweater, or the volume of the radio when their parents’ favorite ’90s jam comes on. But, if you have noticed that happens regularly, and is almost always accompanied by epic meltdowns, it may be a sign your kid has overlooked sensory processing disorder (SPD).

According to the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder, sensory processing disorder exists when your child’s sensory signals are not detected, or are not organized into appropriate motor or behavioral responses.In other words, children with sensory processing disorder may have a much greater or much lower response to stimuli as their non-SPD peers because their brain has trouble receiving and interpreting sensory information. A lot of kids who are the autism spectrum also have sensory processing disorder, but there are also many children who do not fall within the spectrum that struggle with sensory issues.

Kids with undiagnosed sensory processing disorder may be labeled “picky” or “difficult” or are thought to have behavioral problems. They are are often punished or ridiculed when what they need is patience, understanding, and occupational therapy. Here are some red flags that your child may have an overlooked case of sensory processing disorder.

1. They Are Over-Responsiveness

Kids with sensory processing disorders may be hypersensitive to sensory stimuli that is typically unoffensive to others. Brain Balance Achievement Centers notes the following examples of hypersensitivity: fear of sudden, high-pitched or loud noises, distracted by background noises, fearful of surprise touch, and more.

2. They Are Under-Responsiveness

When a child with sensory processing disorder has hyposensitivity, he or she may seek out stimuli, according to Brain Balance Achievement Centers. Some example include a constant need to touch people or textures, clumsy and uncoordinated movements, and the inability to sit still.

3. They Have A Fight Or Flight Response

Have you noticed your child suddenly running away from something that makes him uncomfortable? Kids with sensory processing disorder often have, what the Child Mind Institute called, a “neurological panic response” to everyday sensations, causing them to flee or become aggressive when in sensory overload. These children may run toward something that will calm them, such as a teacher, without noticing that they are pushing or shoving other kids along the way, according to Understood.

4. They Suffer Dramatic Mood Swings Or Meltdowns

Kids with sensory processing disorders will often have radical, inexplicable shifts in behavior, according to the Child Mind Institute. This is usually in reaction to a change in environment. Brain Balance Achievement Centers noted that sensory meltdowns are not the same as temper tantrums. Sensory sensitivity to noise, lights, crowds, or touch can cause those who have sensory processing disorder to become frightened or confused. Parents of children with undiagnosed sensory processing disorder may misinterpret these signs of sensory overload as behavior problems.

5. They Have Co-Occurring Disorders


Because the majority of people on the autism spectrum also have significant sensory issues, the Child Mind Institute noted that sensory processing problems are now considered a symptom of autism. However it’s important to note that most children with sensory issues are not on the spectrum. Kids who have been diagnose with ADHD, OCD and developmental delays may have sensory processing disorder, as well. In some cases, kids with sensory processing disorder are misdiagnosed – and inappropriately medicated – for ADHD, according to the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder.