Disorder. Ok, wow. That’s quite a descriptive and discouraging word.
Sensory Processing Disorder. Well, now that just sounds bad.
So, if you’re a dad reading this, it’s probably because your wife has turned a computer screen toward you, or pointed at her phone and said, “Read this”. I’m also going to assume that you’re a conscientious Dad that cares about, and wants the best for your kids.
Now, if your wife is anything like mine, ever since she found out there was a possibility that your child has SPD, she has been doing quite a lot of research. And if your wife is like mine (even if she hasn’t devoted an entire website to SPD), and you’ve been married for more than say, 5 minutes, then you know that that trend is not likely to change.
Alright, but let’s be real. While my kid is a handful, all their senses work just fine, right? How can they really have a disorder?
What is SPD and What Do You Need to Know about It
Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition where the brain does not decipher certain sensory input effectively; ei., the brain is too sensitive to some sensations and not sensitive enough to others.
So unlike how it sounds, SPD has less to do with your child’s ability to use their senses, and more to do with how their brain handles the information received from their senses.
The best place to really tackle sensory issues and get your family on the right track is Sensory Parenting 101. It’s an Ecourse that you can take at your leisure and refer to again and again. It educates you and guides you in putting together a strategy to help everybody deal with SPD.
Right now though, I would like to tell you about the three things you HAVE TO KNOW up front. Again, this is for dads. While it may be helpful for moms to consider the principles, I know (from experience) that dads come at SPD from a different perspective and I want to speak to that.
Principle 1. SPD is a Real Condition
Sensory Processing Disorder is not a cop-out to explain away your child’s behavior or to give excuse for the difficulty of raising your kid(s). Don’t be fooled. There are real developmental processes that are affecting your child. It is not just a phase. It is not just a personality trait.
Ok so, if you take nothing else away from this, please listen to what I am about to tell you. Dads, please don’t make the mistake I often made/make, and presume that your child’s contrary behavior is a result of stubborness or defiance on their part. I’m not saying that they are not not capable of such behavior, but if your child is struggling SPD then just “putting your foot down” like I would try to do, will only make things worse. Please consider instead offering the sensory input your child is needing.
Principle 2. A Label is Not a Curse
I think it is highly important to see a professional to determine whether or not your child has sensory needs in the first place. SPD, especially if you are not educated on the topic, is not obvious or easily discernible. A medical professional or Occupational therapist really is needed to give confirmation either way.
Please do not mistake getting an official diagnosis to be a stigma, or a hindrance. The temptation here is for you to say, “There is nothing wrong with my kid”, or “My kid is not ‘Special Needs’”.
This may be difficult, but you are going to have to put your own insecurities aside in order to get your child the help they need. You’re right. There’s nothing “wrong” with them, but you are going to have to acknowledge that your child is going to need some simple treatment exercises and lifestyle adjustments. They are also going to need you to change your way of thinking to allow you to understand how their brain works.
Principle 3. You Need to be on Board
I just talked about adjusting your thinking to help provide support for your child. You will also need to be ready to support your spouse. As in all parenting, you will need to be consistent. Your wife can’t be operating in one strategy while you are dismissing that strategy for another. ie., don’t try adjusting your child’s behavior while your spouse is attempting to provide sensory stimulation. Get on the same page and develop a game plan you can both agree on and stick to!
Sensory Parenting 101 was made for just that. To get your family working together to help your child handle the world around them.
There are a lot of things to learn about SPD. I know having these three perspectives will help your family thrive on this difficult but rewarding journey.