‘Strong-willed’ child or something else?

By Momma C

We thought we had a very strong-willed child. Even at the young age of 18 months, Bubs would throw tantrums that would last for over an hour. I knew that I needed to be consistent and ignore. That is what all the books tell you to do. The problem is that it never got better.

food131.jpgBubs could scream for 1 1/2 hours because I failed to put the syrup in the exact place he wanted it on his pancake. Loud noises put him into a panic and fear. The simple ticking of a kitchen egg timer moved him into a screaming fit. The smallest thing could set him off. Bubs struggled to stay in control when unusual situations presented themselves. Where other kids could be calmed down, Bubs had trouble coming off the high. Night terrors plagued his sleep and broke our hearts. I tracked the good and bad days on the calendar and could predict two rough weeks followed by two calm weeks. A cycle that followed the moon.

I talked to other moms about this and they didn’t get it. Doing the typical “discipline” techniques didn’t work. Finally, I realized that what we were dealing with was not normal. It wasn’t just a strong-willed child. Bubs truly couldn’t stay in control in certain circumstances.

In the past, I had talked to our pediatrician about the situation but she really didn’t give me any suggestions. At his 4-year well-baby check, the ped noticed some fine motor delays. I re-visited the behavior issues. The ped felt there might be some sensory issues as well.

We were sent to an occupational therapist. Bubs was tested in fine and gross motor skills and sensory input. I explained Bubs’ history to the OT of being at Arkansas Children’s Hospital for the first month of his life (he had open heart surgery at six days old). With tears in my eyes I said, “I will do absolutely anything you tell me to do, if I can just have my Bubs back.” I meant it.

After being evaluated, we learned Bubs was in the 1st percentile on fine motor skills for his age. Also confirmed were sensory issues, enough to fall under the category of Sensory Processing Disorder. After 1 ½ years of therapy, Bubs is a different child. He still cringes over the timer and struggles to stay in control. But, he is learning ways to handle the sensory overload in ways that are socially acceptable.

When we were first introduced to Sensory Processing Disorder, I did a lot of research and came up pretty empty handed. I felt lead to add a blog to my current preschool curriculum website – ABC Jesus Loves Me – focusing on SPD. Now, I hear from moms on a weekly basis pleading for help. As I email them back, my heart goes out to them. I do remember the emotional rollercoaster and the unknown. Sensory Processing Disorder is real. But help is available.

Momma C has been blessed with three beautiful children – one with Sensory Processing Disorder, a very Strong-Willed middle child, and a Spirited Little Man. She lives with her family in Northwest Arkansas. You can find more about Sensory Processing Disorder on her blog www.OurOutofSyncLife.blogspot.com or on her free Preschool Bible Curriculum website – www.ABCJesusLovesMe.com