There’s always that concern when our kids do something quirky or they’ve had one too many tantrums or episodes that maybe it’s a sign that something is wrong. Most of the time, after a brief visit with Dr. Google, we placate our fears and move on. They obviously don’t have that worst-case-possible disorder that the Internet churned up. But sometimes that little voice in the back of your head persists. You notice your child doesn’t interact with other children the way you see other children interacting with one another. You find yourself facing meltdowns to the extremes that your child rages, nothing calms them, and you may not even know what set them off. They don’t focus in school or when people are talking to them. Then use phrases like “I got distracted” or “I couldn’t concentrate.” They get snippy and agitated around a lot of noise or potent smells. They complain about and tug at their clothes constantly. And it’s started upsetting their ability to function. They’re missing school or they’re not catching on to the concepts they’re supposed to be learning. So you consult back with Dr. Google and find Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
All the symptoms fit. You may have even found some that you hadn’t recognized as part of the problem. You’re intrigued and excited, and above all, hopeful. So you take what you’ve found to your spouse and you get that look. The one that says, “You really expect me to buy into this hocus pocus?” (I’m pretty sure that’s the term my husband used.)
Taming the Skeptic
I won’t sugar coat it. It’s frustrating and disheartening. It doesn’t matter if you get the simple brush off or a play-by-play about how SPD couldn’t possibly be to blame. So what can you do? Well, in this situation, you’re going to face at least two types of skeptics: the one who doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong; and the one who doesn’t really believeSPD is the answer. Luckily, we have some helpful tips for both of them.
If you’re like me and you already know your idea is going to be met with resistance, start out with leading questions. It’s easy to start out too strong on the offensive if you’re expecting the skepticism. So try easing them into the idea before you explain what you’ve found. Questions like “Hey, have you noticed this in Jimmy?” or “Do you think headphones might help him not get so frustrated by distractions during homework time?” can help open them up to the idea.
It’s Not Just A Phase
“It’s just a phase” is a very common brush off. This is an opportunity to explain that Sensory Disorders aren’t something most kids grow out of. Some children find coping mechanisms on their own, but they aren’t always the healthiest ways and even then, they can struggle with these issues well into adulthood.
Try The Exercises
Have your child try some of these simple midline exercises. Inability to complete these exercises is a good sign that you’re on the right track with SPD and your skeptical spouse may be surprised to see your child fail at something that should be simple. This is also a good tactic for the ones who think SPD is just an excuse. Practicing some of these exercises gives you a chance to show some improvement to back you up.
Each Sensory Kid has their own triggers. If you’ve researched SPD and you’ve watched your child, you should be able to identify which types of sensory input set them off. Your picky eater won’t even sit next to you at the table if you’re eating one of the many foods he doesn’t like. Or you find her telling off the birds singing outside the window. Talk about these with your spouse and give them a chance to observe the behaviors for themselves. This would be a good time to check out one of the Sensory Processing Disorder checklists we found so they know what to look for. Here are two checklists you may want to try:
- Sensory Processing Check list
- Sensory Processing Signs
Cite Your Sources
Sometimes it helps to show rather than tell. Read the information with them and show them where the information is coming from. This can help lend credibility to your idea. The book The Out-of-Sync Child is a great source to turn to. It’s a helpful resource and it’s great at explaining what may be going on with your child.
See if they’d be open to having your child tested. It doesn’t mean they have to commit to any of the interventions, but it could provide you with some helpful insights. It may be helpful for them to get an outside opinion as well. If someone else can see the struggles and they agree your child could use some help, they might be more willing.
Find A Compromise
I married the king of skeptics. If he doesn’t have qualms with an idea before I bring up a topic, he develops them as soon as I open my mouth. And on top of that, he can successfully argue any point he chooses. Sometimes I think he does it so well that he sells himself on ideas he didn’t really support to begin with. But these two traits usually leave me with no way of convincing him to see things any other way. But that doesn’t mean I always walk away defeated. Many times we can find a way to compromise. He doesn’t have to believe in my so called voodoo, but he has given me a chance to try out some of the techniques I’ve learned with our daughter with SPD. He doesn’t argue with results.