While living in Wisconsin, I was working part time, was a full time student and my husband had already moved to Iowa. We had our house on the market, and trying to juggle everything was an experience - it was a whirlwind of a time. But one of the other things we came to discover during this time, was Sensory Processing Disorder. I had not really heard of this before, though I was studying various forms of Psychology and behavioral analysis, and was familiar with Autism.
Little did I know that some of that knowledge would come in very handy. We discovered, after a lot of research and visits to councelors that my youngest daughters social problems were part of an Austim spectrum disorder.
My daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder, also known as Sensory Intergration Disorder, currently considered on the high functioning end of the Autism spectrum, a little different from Aspergers syndrome, yet with a number of the same aspects found with Aspergers.
The most intriguing aspect of sensory processing disorder, is that it can improve as one grows into adulthood. I've heard some describe it as 'the type of Aspergers that improves with age'. Many of the issues children have is the inability to naturally learn what most children pick up on, or simply, SPD children have to be taught many of the usual reactions to social and everyday situations that might occur. Everything from how to say 'no thanks' to a particular disliked food while in the school cafeteria line, to knowing how to react correctly to a comment or how to deal with an overload of sensory stimuli. And there are a LOT of new situations that can occur on a daily basis.
Sensory processing effects the 'senses' as the name suggests. This means usually that light, sound, touch and taste for her can be at times a little too overwhelming, basically leading to sensory overload. Often children's intentions are misunderstood, they may be mistaken for having Attention Deficit Disorder, or are accused of being disruptive, because of thier unique learning style, and habit of multitasking during class.
Yet, many of these children are also highly intelligent, usually focus on a particular goal, animal or object. For Caitlyn, its animals, but in particular, cats. She draws cats, has her own cat website that contains her original artwork for sale or trade with internet points or money. At only 11 years old, she has taught herself how to design her own website using html, animates her characters among other things, and has a career vision as a cartoonist. At school, she completed exams in 15-30 minutes, scoring usually 97-100%, was invited to attend several different honors programs at middle school all of which certainly makes any parent proud, but also shows the 2 extremes that SPD portrays.
Socially, she makes friends more or less, but is so focused on websites, cats and drawing, that her friends occasionally get, well, a tad bored. Social awkwardness can also become a problem, when reaction to any given situation can cause friendship problems.
Like most children in the Autism Spectrum range, some foods simply can't be tolerated, but sweets and carbohydrates are really no problem at all, though not necessarily good for them, neurologically speaking. I am constantly amazed that this child managed to grow to a current height of 5'7" on mostly chicken nuggets (a spectrum disorder staple) and mashed potato.
The SPD foundation is doing an amazing amount of research in order to have SPD included in the DSM, under a seperate disorder, much the same as Aspergers and Autistic Disorder is recorded. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is written by the American Psychiatric Association, the same used by counselors everywhere to help diagnose and treat disorders. For more information, click on the link provided to the right.
10 hours ago