Special Needs

Sensory issues tied to behavior problems - I'm looking for others

I used to be a more regular poster on here.  My son was dx with Apraxia and an Expressive Speech Delay when he was a little over 1.  He was in Speech 2x weekly for almost a year and did amazing.  He's 4 1/2 and never stops talking now, even in his sleep.

Now we are dealing with behavior issues.  He acts out at school and home.  I hired a behavior specialist to come and observe him in our home and at preshool.  The assessment we were given is that his behavior does tie back into his past speech issues as well as sensory issues and problems with transition and fears of many things.  When he's not comfortable or fearful he acts out aggressively because things get to just be too much for him.

 The specialist said that I am going to be dealing with these issues ongoing throughout his life.  He's a very smart and caring child.  I think he's also on the road to ADHD but I keep being told it's too early to tell (I can tell).   I was told that sensory intragation will be a huge part of his day to day life. 

 I'm not sure that my H is going to be able to handle all of this information.  He thinks our son just is a bad listener and misbehaves and that since I'm a social worker I'm making excuses for him.  This will have an impact on a marriage that's already struggling.

 I'm looking for support and to reintro myself. 

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Re: Sensory issues tied to behavior problems - I'm looking for others

  • My son has language issues and severe sensory processing disorder which has been tied into a dx of disruptive behavior disorder. We have been told he will likely have add/adhd and that we will be dealing with his sensory/behavior issues for the rest of his life.

     We have been recommended a lot of different therapies and are in the process of trying to get into a child psychologist. I was also given a list of books to read that I can pass on to you this afternoon.

    But I completely understand where you are coming from!

    Diabetic, 2IF, PCOS; blessed beyond words to be called "mommy" to Drew (6/30/09) and Alynn (5/16/11).

     Andrew David: mixed receptive/expressive language phonological disorder, sensory processing disorder, Disruptive Behavior disorder-nos and insomnia.


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  • Hi, Karma.  I can't speak to sensory issues, but I can say that making the transition from thinking M "won't" behave to realizing that some of the things we were asking of him were things that he just "couldn't" do was huge for us, and really helped us to set reasonable expectations for him.

    Sure, we question ourselves a lot more now (is this something he can do, but won't or something that he just can't do?), but he's also reaching our expectations a lot more, has become proud of himself and his good behavior, and we have a much happier household.

  • I would encourage your DH to do his own research on some of the issues that your DS struggles with. That, and for him to attend whatever meetings you have regarding DS and hear it straight from them. For the most part my DH gets it now, but he does have times where he lapses into your H's way of thinking and it can definitely be frustrating. Sensory stuff most definitely impacts behavior, and I think in both the long and short run, you're doing a child a disservice to insist otherwise.

    Also, what we've found works best for DS behavior wise is to be proactive with the sensory stuff and just in general to try to head off problems before they start.  


  • Oh, and if your DS is anything like mine, the coming year will be a big leap in maturity and behavior. Hopefully that's the case for you.

  • image Spooko:

    I would encourage your DH to do his own research on some of the issues that your DS struggles with. That, and for him to attend whatever meetings you have regarding DS and hear it straight from them. For the most part my DH gets it now, but he does have times where he lapses into your H's way of thinking and it can definitely be frustrating. Sensory stuff most definitely impacts behavior, and I think in both the long and short run, you're doing a child a disservice to insist otherwise.

    Also, what we've found works best for DS behavior wise is to be proactive with the sensory stuff and just in general to try to head off problems before they start.  

     Yes!! All of this too. DH has to come with me to everything or he doesn't believe it.

    Diabetic, 2IF, PCOS; blessed beyond words to be called "mommy" to Drew (6/30/09) and Alynn (5/16/11).

     Andrew David: mixed receptive/expressive language phonological disorder, sensory processing disorder, Disruptive Behavior disorder-nos and insomnia.


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  • Hi and welcome.

    Has your son been evaluated by a developmental pediatrician? Has he had an MFE with your local school district.

    A behaviorist is not the expert for assessing sensory issues; if you suspect this he should be worked up by an OT. IME, sensory can drive some behaviors but it can sometimes be used to explain things that have developmental (like autism)or behavioral (like ADHD or ODD) antecendents. Because these things can be comorbids, a full evaluation could be really helpful in terms of understanding what's going on and how to make things easier/better for all of you.

    I also don't buy that sensory is always a major factor in a person's life. My kid clearly had SPD symptoms that were subsumed under an ASD dx. He largely outgrew them without any therapies aside from some behavioral approaches.

    I'm sorry this is especially hard right now given that your DH isn't 100% on board with you're line of thinking.

  • Karma, I know some of your story from GBCN. The advice you get from this board is going to look at DS's behavior through a lens of our own SN experiences; the advice you get from ML looks at DS's behavior through the lens of what they know about your marriage. 

    I think the reality is probably that it's a combination of those things. That you've got a pretty sensitive, bright little guy who has had problems expressing himself and picks up easily on the tension, anger and resentment in the household, and so it doesn't take a whole lot for him to become uncomfortable, fearful, anxious, and aggressive. You've admitted that you're too soft on him, and I think your DH is too hard -- neither of which does him any favors and provides zip in parenting consistency, which is going to be really difficult for any child to navigate and is going to have behavioral consequences. You're doing DS a disservice and undermining effective treatment strategies if you try to tie all his behavior to SN and discount emotional issues that are going to require hard work from all of you. OT isn't going to address his sense of emotional stability, and I suspect that's as much a contributing factor as his sensory issues, ADHD and whatever else is going on. Is he in talk therapy at all? 

    I'm willing to bet you guys would be having at least some of these same issues even if he was 100% a typical, willful kid; you and your DH seem to approach behavior issues entirely differently -- even aside from the SN aspect, which only exacerbates the differences and the need for consistency. I thought you got some good advice from the behaviorist? Are you & DH being consistent with those recommendations? Have things gotten better or worse? 

    I still don't know exactly what a behavior specialist is. Is this a BCBA? How honest were you about how emotional issues in the household could be at play with DS's behaviors? I second auntie's suggestion of a full developmental eval. In your case, I think having a child psych do the evaluation rather than a developmental pedi, and being entirely, painfully upfront about the state of your marriage and you & your DH's differences on parenting DS, is in order. It might not be a great idea for your DH to come, frankly, if you are afraid to be honest with the psych in front of him. Maybe he could come to a results appointment but not the testing itself. 

    I think you're struggling with your DH and struggling with DS and struggling with the relationship between the two of them as well. And probably struggling with yourself. That's a really shitty position to be in, and I'm sorry. I don't want to sound like I'm discounting SN and sensory needs in particular as contributing to behavior problems; they certainly need to be addressed, and pp gave some helpful advice on trying to bring your DH around. But I get the sense that you would rather attribute DS's behaviors to something that is strictly SN and out of your control -- sensory, ADHD, etc. -- and work on those things, hoping to they will solve the problem, rather than face and address the larger emotional issues at work because that is so much scarier and has direct impacts on your own emotional/financial/life state if you end up divorcing. 

    ETA: Went back and put in DS for your son. Sorry, I don't know where I got M from, I know that's not the right one and since you didn't specify, I won't either. 

    image

    DD1, 1/5/2008 ~~~ DD2, 3/17/2010
  • My DS1 had the same speech issues--apraxia and such.  Only AFTER he was brought in to the program at school to help with that did they realize he had major sensory issues.  In a way, we were relieved because we didn't know what was going on with his behavior.  It does make sense though.  Since then he's been in occupational therapy to help his behavior.

    The big thing is to realize when he's being over sensitized.  That's a huge deal.  And how does he handle touch and such.  We have to be very careful and also remind him that he needs to make good choices.  As he matures, things will also mature--but it's going to take time.

  • image lite-bright:

    Karma, I know some of your story from GBCN. The advice you get from this board is going to look at DS's behavior through a lens of our own SN experiences; the advice you get from ML looks at DS's behavior through the lens of what they know about your marriage. 

    I think the reality is probably that it's a combination of those things. That you've got a pretty sensitive, bright little guy who has had problems expressing himself and picks up easily on the tension, anger and resentment in the household, and so it doesn't take a whole lot for him to become uncomfortable, fearful, anxious, and aggressive. You've admitted that you're too soft on him, and I think your DH is too hard -- neither of which does him any favors and provides zip in parenting consistency, which is going to be really difficult for any child to navigate and is going to have behavioral consequences. You're doing DS a disservice and undermining effective treatment strategies if you try to tie all his behavior to SN and discount emotional issues that are going to require hard work from all of you. OT isn't going to address his sense of emotional stability, and I suspect that's as much a contributing factor as his sensory issues, ADHD and whatever else is going on. Is he in talk therapy at all? 

    I'm willing to bet you guys would be having at least some of these same issues even if he was 100% a typical, willful kid; you and your DH seem to approach behavior issues entirely differently -- even aside from the SN aspect, which only exacerbates the differences and the need for consistency. I thought you got some good advice from the behaviorist? Are you & DH being consistent with those recommendations? Have things gotten better or worse? 

    I still don't know exactly what a behavior specialist is. Is this a BCBA? How honest were you about how emotional issues in the household could be at play with DS's behaviors? I second auntie's suggestion of a full developmental eval. In your case, I think having a child psych do the evaluation rather than a developmental pedi, and being entirely, painfully upfront about the state of your marriage and you & your DH's differences on parenting DS, is in order. It might not be a great idea for your DH to come, frankly, if you are afraid to be honest with the psych in front of him. Maybe he could come to a results appointment but not the testing itself. 

    I think you're struggling with your DH and struggling with DS and struggling with the relationship between the two of them as well. And probably struggling with yourself. That's a really shitty position to be in, and I'm sorry. I don't want to sound like I'm discounting SN and sensory needs in particular as contributing to behavior problems; they certainly need to be addressed, and pp gave some helpful advice on trying to bring your DH around. But I get the sense that you would rather attribute DS's behaviors to something that is strictly SN and out of your control -- sensory, ADHD, etc. -- and work on those things, hoping to they will solve the problem, rather than face and address the larger emotional issues at work because that is so much scarier and has direct impacts on your own emotional/financial/life state if you end up divorcing. 

    ETA: Went back and put in DS for your son. Sorry, I don't know where I got M from, I know that's not the right one and since you didn't specify, I won't either. 

     

    I was really honest with the Behavior Specialist.  I admitted to being way to laid back for the first 3 or so years because I felt lucky just to have him, and that I would undermine my H when he tried to dicipline J.  H admitted to being way too assertive.   I did schedule a formal eval at an actual clinic where there is a psychatrist on staff.  It's in 2 weeks and I'm hoping to get a better idea of how much is normal, how much he can or can't help, and how much my H and I are doing or not doing right or wrong. 

     

    Thank you for post.  You know my story well so was good to get your prespective.  I appreciate your post!

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  • Great post lite-bright.

    I was really honest with the Behavior Specialist.  I admitted to being way to laid back for the first 3 or so years because I felt lucky just to have him, and that I would undermine my H when he tried to dicipline J.  H admitted to being way too assertive.   I did schedule a formal eval at an actual clinic where there is a psychatrist on staff.  It's in 2 weeks and I'm hoping to get a better idea of how much is normal, how much he can or can't help, and how much my H and I are doing or not doing right or wrong. 

    Parent with slightly different sets of expectations aren't always a bad thing if they can work together to keep one a realistic eye on the bigger picture. IME, with boys especially,  moms often over-accommodate and can unintentionally limit their child's growth as a result. Dads can sometimes expect more than is possible in the moment and end up frustrating everyone. But f you are honest and collaborative, you could end up a well balance pair who complement each other.

    But I would caution you to reframe how you think about his capablilities. Can't help thinking deprives him of the responsibility to work to do better and the esteem that comes with doing better with effort. Don't lower your expectations for him- give him the instruction and a little extra time to learn better ways to behave.

  • DS has a minor speech delay and sensory issues related to tactile - there is no underlying reason behind this, its just present.

    We have been doing therapy for 3-6mo, and I am happy to say that both his speech & behavior have greatly improved since we started.

    School is not an option for us right now, due to some behavior issues we know he will encounter while there (he went to one for a few months before pulling him, so we know what is expected of him).  Circle time and organized participation with peers for certain activities is difficult for him.

    Not only is he in therapy, he is also in a gymnastics class which meets twice a week.  I keep a very open line of communication with his teachers, and keep them up to date on all of the goals he has met and continue to meet we also discuss any concerns if there are any, but there are none currently.

     


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