I spend a lot of time researching ways to help Blake. And honestly as a teacher, especially teaching Gifted, the whole topic of it all just fascinates me, even taking Blake out of the equation.
I’ve come across a blog that I’ve found really helpful because it’s like all-in-one shopping when it comes to topics related to Sensory Processing Disorders.
Blake has a lot of difficulty sitting still. While most 4 year olds do, and that’s probably what some of you are thinking, it’s different in some kids. He has an excess amount of energy that will build up and he begins to get anxious, antsy, and irritable. We can see it coming. You’ll know when he just needs to do something to expend his energy.
For instance, he rarely completely relaxes (even when he’s asleep sometimes, enter handbanging!). When he’s on the sofa he will tumble around back and forth while watching TV, hang upside, or constantly move his legs. But once the energy has built up and the tumbling and hanging upside down isn’t working anymore, he will start slamming his feet down and kicking. At this point we usually tell him he needs to get up and run laps around the house, of which he’s ALWAYS happy and willing to do. He hasn’t gotten to the point where he recognizes himself that he needs to do this, but we’ve just learned the signs. Eventually I hope he’ll be able to independently realize, “I need to run!”
You may be thinking “ADHD”. It’s different than ADHD because all he seeks is some sort of sensory input. In my opinion, ADHD can be misdiagnosed for some kids because it LOOKS like they’re hyper, when, yes, kind of, but they need an outlet. They’re SEEKING something they aren’t getting. If your body needs water then your brain sends signals that you’re thirsty and you go to the fridge. If you don’t get it then your body will react in many different ways that are harmful. It’s a cause and effect, just like sensory seeking people. The lack of input will cause them to react. May be they get into trouble at school because they aren’t sitting still. Their bodies need to move and to do more, but they aren’t permitted.
That’s just one example, if that makes sense.
If we go to the store with him he really gets bored easily, and electronics are not an option for us, so we usually bring cars or fidget toys. And when those have run their course, we wait for clear isles in the grocery store and we allow him to run up and down them to do laps, and that usually keeps him pretty calm for a set amount of time before we may have to do it again.
He doesn’t have severe proprioception issues like some kids do, but it’s significant enough where this is a large part of his Occupational Therapy, because it doesn’t fit into any other category. His headbanging falls into this category for him. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s sensory seeking.
One of the things that his OT has done for him since he loves being upside down, yet she also needed to work with him on applying the appropriate amount of pressure with pencils and crayons, is allow him to lay on the floor under a table and color on paper by using the underside of it. Cool, huh? It’s been a great activity for him because he’s in a comfortable position that he enjoys, yet he has to work hard to hold the paper in place so it doesn’t fall on top of him with one hand, and color with the other. Brilliant!
This is the site that I use as a reference for many SPD issues. This particular page will point you to the Proprioceptive Dysfunction page. It doesn’t really explain PD very much, just gives some examples. The author of this site describes some kids with SPD as this, and I think this one explains Blake perfectly…
- You could only sit here for 15 minutes and then you had to take a run around the building or do 20 jumping jacks so you could sit for another 10 minutes before your muscles felt like they were going to jump out of your skin.
It’s a bit exhausting, I’ll be honest, but I’m so glad to know what works for him. I worry about school as he gets older, but that isn’t something I know I need to concern myself with at the moment, and I hope that all of these tools we are on the path to learning now will help. I’m already praying that in the future he will have teachers who will be patient and let him be himself, because he’s a pretty cool kid with a GIANT heart.
The last 3 days he has been gritting his teeth A LOT. He does it every now and again but I’ve had to stop him frequently recently. In the car. When he wakes up. Watching TV. I’ve just noticed if he isn’t doing something active, he’s gritting his teeth, it seems. (Right now he’s doing it walking to his bedroom to play Legos).
Apparently this is also part of a Proprioception thing, seeking that sensory input he gets from grinding his teeth.
His MRI a few weeks ago came out normal, which I figured it would. Still, it’s good to check that box. Funny, as I shared on my social media page, he had his quirks and requests before going into the MRI room and negotiated with me and the staff that he would go in if he didn’t have to wear the hospital gown and hospital bracelet. So, he got an hour long MRI topless and in nothing but Star Wars underwear and his hospital bracelet laying beside him as he slept.
He also asked the staff to sing “Sugar” by Maroon 5 to him as he was drifting.
This boy cracks me up with his personality. Love him to pieces!
The next step is do a 24 EEG. They want to search brain activity, especially at night, to monitor the headbanging. Despite all that we are doing, he’s still headbanging nearly every night. I know what we are doing is helpful, because it’s slightly better, just not gone. Two nights ago he was so proud of himself and woke up to tell me, “Momma, I didn’t bang my head last night.” He had no recollection that I went into his bedroom to move him and pat his back so that he would stop, because he’d wedged himself in the corner of his bed (even though it’s lined with comforters and blankets) and found an opening to bang against. He had no idea I’d moved him and calmed him.
It remains the part that baffles me, and apparently the doctors, which is why we are still trying to figure it out.
I know we aren’t the only people on the planet who have a night time headbanger, but I have yet to find anyone else, and I’d just love to connect with someone. I’d love a headbanging friend! Bueller?