My 3.5 year old son was recently diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (over responsive). I have been using the HIH tools for about a year, not knowing what my son was actually dealing with, so needless to say we have not seen any improvement. I think the tools are wonderful, but I don’t know how to adapt them effectively to SPD. This is still very new to me, and until I work my way through the stack of books I just ordered on sensory issues, I need some advice. I’m interested in absolutely any advice anyone might have on how to use these tools to help a very sensitive child with SPD. Ideas, real-world tried-and-true experiences, anything…
Thank you all in advance for your help and guidance,
Kudos to you for reaching out!!! I’m going to give you a little bit of advice, share my experience with my son and point you toward some resources.
The first piece of advice is for YOU to get lots of emotional support through LISTENING PARTNERSHIPS and Listening Time. As the Mama of a kiddo who has had some neurological challenges, I cannot tell you how important it has been for ME to get regular listening time. I would get Listening Time every day of the week, if I could. As it is, during the school year (summer is harder in terms of schedules), I get Listening Time 4-5xs each week.
Having that safe place to dump MY fears/worries/frustrations does several things.
– First it gave me more capacity to LISTEN longer and more often to my son’s more frequent-than-usual-meltdowns.
– Secondly, it helped me think well about how to work-around his challenges. Transitions were more difficult for him than other children. As other children we developing the capacity to sit in circle time, he seemed to be going in the opposite direction. So, I cut back on the number of days he was in preschool.
– Third, it gave me the capacity to think well about the kinds of therapeutic support my son needed IN ADDITION to my Hand in Hand Parenting.
– 4th: it helped me try to tease out when his resistance might be neurological and when it might be emotional.
Here is one Instructor’s story:
And here is a story on Staylistening.
I think this story on Holding an EXPECTATION as a Limit is particularly helpful because when our kiddos melt down it really does seem as if they CAN’T do something. As we increase our capacity to LISTEN, I think it helps them counter that feeling of overwhelm that has them believing that they can’t.
I’ve not written this up for our website, but here is one of my stories. We were homeschooling and the assignment I wanted my son to do was to read 4 small paragraphs – each about 3-4 sentences and underline the main idea or topic sentence. For several days he’d been refusing and melting down. So I’d been doing a “work-around” – finding a different assignment that was less reading, but the same idea.
Meanwhile my brain was on overdrive worrying, “what kind of therapy does he need now? does he need vision therapy? How will I pay for that?, etc. etc. etc…”
After about two days of this, I finally got some LISTENING TIME. I cried hard about the idea that he might never be able to read. That he might never be able to do well in school. After crying hard for about 10 minutes, I had a light bulb moment: I realized, I don’t know what his eyes are seeing. I don’t know what his brain is processing. I don’t know what if any more therapy he needs. But I do know that he has feelings around this.
That afternoon, I BROUGHT the Limit. I said, ‘this is what we are doing today, sweetie”. He protested. Then got angry and tried to whip me with the shirt he’d taken off earlier. I grabbed a blanket to block the shirt and keep us safe. Within a few minutes we moved from STAYLISTENING to PLAYLISTENING as he tried to get me over the top of the blanket and under the blanket. I wrapped the blanket around his arm with the shirt. Pulled him toward me and we toppled onto the floor. 10 minutes of wrestling and pillow fighting later, he sighed and asked for SPECIAL TIME. 5 minutes later, he sat down and read all 4 paragraphs without any trouble. I was blown away!!!
Although we are not experts at Hand in Hand on modifying our tools, I think we have found that we need to be slow and measured in our Limit Setting – making sure that we are connected and that we have the capacity to LISTEN to big upset. I think we have found that, in general, our PLAYLISTENING and Rough/N/Tumble is good for even hyper-vigilant kiddos, because they need the pressure and the Skin-to-Skin connection. They need to FEEL us as a CALM ANCHOR when they are feeling scared and overwhelmed.
Since every brain is a universe unto itself and your kiddo’s sensory integration is different than my son’s was, I can give only you some general thoughts. Our TOOLS do work with neuro-special kiddos. But YOU have to be getting regular Listening Time so that you know WHEN to bring a limit and WHEN to do a work-around.
I also encourage you to get lots of Listening Time because there is not a period at the end of that sentence: My child was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder…. That diagnosis does not even begin to tell you what the CAUSE might be. The diagnosis is a starting point in terms of discovering what is CAUSING the breakdown in processing. Listening Time will help you navigate the advice and suggestions that you are going to get from everyone everywhere.
You might consider consulting privately with one of our Instructors who has experience working with parents of kiddos who process differently. You might also consider joining our big Facebook group. There have been several threads on this question and parents who jumped in to say how much using the Hand in Hand Tools have helped them parent their child well.
As I said, Hand in Hand does not have a large enough body of work to consider ourselves experts, but we do have parents and Instructors who are having great success using our approach – particularly LISTENING PARTNERSHIPS. If you don’t have Listening Partners, yet, there are lots of parents here and in our facebook group who are eager to exchange Listening Time.
Please keep reaching out so we can support you and your sweet boy and let us know how it goes. He is so lucky that he has you as a WARRIOR MAMA!!!
Peace and Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
Follow me on facebook: Parenting by Connection with Kathy
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi