Monday, May 31, 2010

A Sensory Defensive's NEVER To Do List

In a perfect world there would be lots of things a sensory defensive child just wouldn't have to do. In the case of mine, the list would look something like this: 

To "NEVER" Do List:
  • Get shots
  • Go to dentist or floss
  • Have nails trimmed
  • Get face wet
  • Hear a fire drill
  • Enter bathroom or other small enclosed space with smoke detectors
  • Experience thunder storms
  • Have a small person yell in ear
  • Have bugs get anywhere near
 add to the list, sleep all night with olive oil in hair!

A sensory defensive child should never ever have to deal with lice! It's just not right. Now of course no one should have to deal with lice. They are a teeny tiny big fat pain in the head... but more than any other... a child who experiences life in fight or flight mode, to whom bugs can be terrifying, who fights against getting his head and face wet regularly when bathing... this child should NOT have to be told there are tiny little bugs on his head. He should not then have to sit still while someone painstakingly pulls his hair while picking out nits and such and he really should not have to deal with seemingly never ending treatments of olive oil in his hair and multiple shampoos and rinses. 

When all this came down for us recently, I simply assumed there was no information out there for how to deal with lice with your child with SPD... amazingly it turns out I was wrong in that assumption. I should have known that Lindsey Biel, OTR/L, and Nancy Peske, authors of Raising a Sensory Smart Child, would have suggestions! What would we SPD parents do without them? If you are interested, look HERE in this handy article on this very subject. 

I have to say this however... while I'm sure this is extremely helpful advice for parents of SPD kids who have major issues with smell, that isn't really our problem. None of these things really were helpful in our case. Every time we've done this, what helped was explaining that without the treatment, he'd have to keep dealing with the possibility of bugs on his head. It was also helpful to let him play computer games while we nit-picked and blow dried. Distraction = good! Otherwise, a towel (changed often to make sure it's dry) for his face and ears while shampooing and rinsing helps a bit. Frankly the olive oil... won't ever be good for him... at least not without more occupational therapy maybe... he cries, he protests, he struggles and ultimately we do it and he falls asleep. Once it's dry, no big deal. 

Here's hoping we never, ever have to do this again... it definitely gets added to the TO "NEVER" DO list!


  1. Thank you for starting your blog! I am just starting a blog about the shift from my old field of work, to motherhood. And a huge part of motherhood for me has been learning about my son and his sensory integration difficulties. As for a title for your blog, what about The World According to (your son's name). And then underneath that, something in parenthesis like (Parenting a child whose senses get a little scrambled on the way to the brain: Sensory Processing Dysfunction). Just a thought. LOVE your Never Do list!

  2. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Makes my day to get a comment and be in touch with other mother's/parents of sensory kids. Right now I'm really struggling with my boy's constant desire to do sedentary activities... mostly computer games... and his inability to transition off when he should. How old is your son? Thanks also for the Blog title suggestion...

  3. My son is 7 and is just finishing first grade. He has big difficulty with transitions too. When he was under 5, this made life a nightmare. Now, it's only a PIA. When I could carry him away from situations, I did, kicking and screaming. I have some great games that make a kid move (other than a Wii)- HyperDash, and Learning Resources' Math Mat (for as young as 3 or 4, on up). I used a countdown timer to "help" with transitions. Do you have one? Teaching stores are great resources. Has your son's therapist done brushing with him (for touch defensiveness)?

  4. What does PIA stand for? My son is 10 and I'm never sure which transitions will be a struggle and which he'll run with... we had lots of problems leaving events, play dates, trips to the park. We had to enact the "if you leave well, you can do it again" rule. Yesterday he didn't leave well for school and got angry about having to get off the computer so he kicked his Dad and then punched his sister. We use the kitchen timer sometimes. We have done brushing and probably need to start again. Still waiting to find out if our insurance will cover the OT therapy or just the eval?