My Son Isn’t Misbehaving — He Has a Sensory Processing Disorder

He’s been in therapy for three months now, and my husband and I are finally getting a grip on SPD and what that looks like for Camden. Daily tasks like getting dressed and brushing his teeth are big accomplishments for him. We try to be as patient as possible, but some days we yell, some days we cry, some days we’re mentally exhausted, and some days we feel like the worst parents in the world. To help calm and organize his sensory system, we focus on heavy work activities around the house, like wheelbarrow walks, frog jumps, and bear crawls. We give him resistant hand games like silly putty and Play-Doh and play tug-of-war every night. We do push-ups and yoga poses with him and use an exercise ball to help strengthen his upper body and increase his body awareness. With all of the physical activity we do in our house, you’d think we were training a future professional football player.

We have to get his therapy just right — it’s called a sensory diet (no, it doesn’t involve food) — otherwise it will send him into a sensory overload. One week he became so overstimulated from all the different sensory work during his therapy session that it sent his body into a major frenzy even before we left the gym. His eyes glossed over and he was running around the lobby bumping and crashing into chairs. It took him the entire day to snap out of it. That same week, we went to Target and he had a full-blown meltdown at the door. You know it and you’ve seen it. The one where you see the mother and say, “That kid is crazy, can’t she control her kid?” The answer is no, I couldn’t control him. I didn’t stand a chance.

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