Sensory Issues

We got Aiden's Occupational Therapist report back last week and although it really didn't tell us anything we didn't already know it can still be hard to see things in an official report. It is very emotional for me to think of all that Aiden has to deal with. The report was really long but I think this quote sums it up:

That says "Overall it would appear that Aiden is experiencing multiple challenges in both the home and school environments due to difficulties processing sensory information in the same way as most of his peers. This is consistent with a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum." And just think that he has ADHD and Asthma on top of it all.

This is a good explanation...

Sensory Integration Disorder And Autism

Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) is a a neurological condition in and of itself, but it is most often associated with other neurological conditions, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder, and Tourette’s Syndrome. Unlike blindness or deafness, where a person is unable to sense or receive input from sight or sound, a person with SID is able to perceive sensory stimuli. The deficit lies in the brain’s inability to process the stimuli. If the person with SID is hyposensitive to sensory input such as touch, he or she may be more likely to be injured walking into objects or not realizing an object was too hot. A SID patient who is hypersensitive to input such as noise, will often respond loudly and negatively to surprise noises. They may also be able to hear soft noises, such as the buzz from fluorescent lights which is imperceptible to a typical person....
....Consider a trip to a large retail store. Most people can block out the ambient noise, smells, and visual stimuli. But for someone with sensory issues, this is a serious challenge. He has to sort through a plethora of voices and beeps and rattles which may wreak havoc on his nerves. He is also bombarded with images, products, unfamiliar faces, and bright lighting. The brain of a person with autism is not wired to determine which sensory stimuli should be ignored. Waiting in line may also be a painful experience, because it seems to serve no purpose. The child may feel restrained and uncomfortable. The frustration may be magnified by an inability to communicate or release these feelings. The child does not know what to expect and he does not know what is expected of him.
- taken from

I won't go into all the details of Aiden's report but this was one of the pages...

What all those things mean isn't really the point... you just need to know that "Definite Difference" means that he scored in the lowest 2% of kids his age. Which means he has more trouble than 98% of the kids around him. Those are some pretty tough obstacles to overcome.

I would just love for people to be able to SEE how tough it is for Aiden, to KNOW how hard he has to work just to function near the same level as other kids his age. I want people to see that when he is being "difficult" he is not misbehaving, he is simply trying to function. He doesn't process things the same way many of us do. Just because he hears something doesn't mean he is processing it correctly. If the teacher tells him to do something and he doesn't do it that does not mean he isn't listening, it might mean he didn't actually GET what she said. Just imagine for a second how hard it would be to go through your days hearing what everyone is saying but not necessarily comprehending it all. And that is just ONE of his sensory issues.

I also want to point out that none of this refers to his intelligence. His IQ is actually quite high... he's not a genius but he is very smart. And when you consider how well he does despite his challenges you realize just how smart he is. I doubt I would do as well if I were in his shoes.

My kid is awesome. And when I look at all the obstacles he has to overcome every minute of every day I see just how amazing he truly is.

One of the Occupational Therapist's suggestions was to use social stories. Social stories are very simple stories meant to teach a child exactly what to do in a given situation. We've been using social stories with Aiden for years. One example that we have used was for starting grade 2... it said things like "I will have a new teacher. Her name is _____. I will have kids I don't know in my class but I will learn their names. I will go to french class. My teacher will speak in french and sometimes I won't know what the words mean. That is ok. I can ask questions when I don't understand." It had pictures of his teacher, the classroom, his aid...things like that. Basic things that come naturally to most kids but that are really tough for my kid.

One of the social stories she suggested had the phrase "when I am in an assembly I should watch what the kids around me are doing. When they clap I will know it is a good time for me to clap. When they are quiet I know I should be quiet too." etc..

Just knowing that the reason my son freaks out in assemblies is because HE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO and is having a hard time processing all the sights and sounds and changes thrown at him makes me cry. Something so simple to other children causes my child a whole lot of angst.

So next time you see my kid, or a kid like him... just remember that those kids are AMAZING. Remind yourself that they aren't trying to be bad. They aren't trying to tick you off. They are just trying to survive their day. And be kind to their parents because they are probably doing the best they can. :)


Linda Kish said…
Special kids are wonderful and teach us a patience that others will never understand. My son was born before all of the Autism Spectrum disorder diagnoses and still has difficulties but at 26 he understands his differences.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com
silverneon2000 said…
I am sure it is hard on both of you as a parent and your son.
We have been having problems with our younger son and we have seeked some help so far and are still going to see another doctor. His behavior has been better at home as we try as parents to deal with it better and not get upset as easily. As for school he has not been so good. The teacher says she more worries about his the behavior affecting his learning.
We will see what happens when we meet the next doctor and find out what we need to do. Also to find out if there is a problem with our son.
I find that he just does not want to listen to what he is told and things have to be his way.
It is nice to talk to other parents who have children with some issues as i know my son has some ways to go to see a good change.
Thank you for sharing your information.
my2boyz said…
Thank you for ahring your story. My son is ADHD and has some sensory issues but more with clothing! Socks are the big one, if there is a "bump" he FREAKS out rips his shoes off and tries to rip his sock...Hanes are NOT good socks for him! Same with underwear...if it is too tight same thing FREAKS out! Loud places are hard on him too....can't handle it, same with large groups of kids who are being loud. Also hates being sticky. Will only use a straw to drink and will not touch anything sticky!
Your son is very lucky to have you as a mother!
Patricia Ward said…
Oh Tara, you and Doug are such wonderful parents! It makes me cry to think of all Aiden has to handle, and he's so valiant about it! Yes, he's extremely intelligent, and I believe he will be very successful in life as he gets older and realizes his own potential. I love you for your love and patience with Aiden.
Anonymous said…
I understand about the sensory issues. My best friend's son has pretty much the same diagnosis as Aiden and when she told me about the sensory end of it I stopped feeling crazy about it. I can be wearing a shirt and all of a sudden I flip out because it feels "wrong" on me. I have left restaurants because the music was uncomfortable. I had to move one time because I could hear the apartment upstairs, but when my apartment manager came, she could not hear it all. Sometimes I want complete silence and sometimes my music is so loud other people can't hear. I've walked out of stores because of being over stimulated sensory-wise. I used to let my hands become so dry they would crack and bleed before I would put lotion on them. There were times I would be on sensory overload, Charlie would come over to hug me, and I would tell him not to touch me. It hurt his feelings at first, but once I found out about why I did it, he understood. Now if he goes to hug me and I'm in flip out mode, I just tell him and he backs off.

Yes, Aiden has many challenges ahead of him. However, I am thoroughly convinced that with you as a parent he will become the best he can be. And that will be wonderful indeed. You are an amazing woman, Tara. And you have an amazing child.
Merrie L. said…
I'm glad you gals are sharing this, both of my boys (13...almost 14 and 4) have ADHD and my eldest has ODD. BOTH have "sock" issues and I just blew it off as an oddity. My eldest also has an AWFUL issue with underwear and pants. It NEVER occurred to me that it might have to do with his sensory issues (because the ADHD isn't a "bad" case)...but the socks, underwear, and pants ARE. AND HANES are the ONLY socks and underwear he WOULD wear for YEARS! lol
Amanda Daybyday said…
This is the first time I've made it to my google reader since last week. Your honesty is so beautiful Tara. It's so good that you can share so honestly about Aiden's struggles. It is easy to judge from the outside, but what people don't realize is just how good he's really being. The effort he expends to just maintain status quo is so very much more than the typical kid. It breaks my heart.

We had a very "fun" time with Finleigh at P/T interviews this week. And everyone was making excuses for her...oh, she looks so tired. Oh, look at her rosy cheeks, she must be getting sick. And I kept saying to people, this is pretty typical of her behaviour at home. They just don't get it.

Oh ya, and Will's finally getting an official sensory assessment. Just signed the paper this morning. His ticks are increasing and the special ed director think it may be because he's trying so hard not to have outbursts in class.

Anyways, I know my kids have different issues...but I hear you. And I'm so glad that you're getting this information out there. People need to understand. Will be thinking of you this week with report cards and p/t interviews and stuff.

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