Should I be worried? DD doesn't like large crowds. — The Bump
Special Needs

Should I be worried? DD doesn't like large crowds.

A lady on my local board suggested I repost this here.  I haven't frequented this board, but I would truly appreciate any opinions and advice.  Thank you!

The pedi keeps telling me not to worry, but I'm still concerned about my 3.5 y.o. DD's inability to manage being in large crowds or around lots of noise.  I don't know if she's just really shy or if there's more going on.  I'm wondering if maybe she has some sort of sensory issue or something.

She's shy but acts appropriately one-on-one with strangers.  She's totally fine one-on-one or in small groups with people she knows and is really able to open up in those situations.  She does great in preschool with 11 other kids, especially now that she's very comfortable there and knows the routine they follow every day.  She's still on the quiet side at preschool but she does talk, especially to the teachers and a couple close friends.

I'm not concerned about her intelligence.  Her vocabulary is also not at all worrisome, and although I was worried about her enunciation, we had her evaluated and her speech is age-appropriate.

The girl simply cannot handle large crowds, though.  Birthday parties have been an issue to the point that we no longer have them for her or DS.  We've only been to two parties in the past 18 months that haven't been a disaster, and it's been because at both of those parties there was space for her to separate herself from the party when she needed.  At others she's cried and said she didn't have a good time.  It has helped some that we now try to prepare her ahead of time by telling her there will be a lot of people, but it hasn't been a cure.

Today we took her on a train ride to see Curious George.  Should have been a great time.  It was great for the train ride out to see Curious George and while we were at that area, but things fell apart as soon as we got back on the train.  Her balloon had popped while we were off the train and even though they quickly gave her two more, she cried as I rocked her in my lap the entire ride back to the station. She said it was too loud on the train.  She didn't calm down until she was strapped into the car.  She fell asleep on the way home, but she shouldn't have been tired.  I think she was only tired from all the crying.  She doesn't normally nap anymore, plus this was still early in the day.

The weird thing is that we went to a crowded children's museum while we were on vacation last month and she did fine.  She spent the entire time engrossed in the moon sand area and at the water table, though.  It was like she was focused enough to tune out the chaos.  (She was still responsive to DH and myself, though.  It's not like she was completely in her own world.)  I've also noticed that the best way to get her to tell me about her day at preschool is to get her talking about it while she's playing with Play-Doh or something similar.

We don't go to lots of crowded places like the zoo, museums, etc., so I don't know if part of the problem is that she hasn't had a ton of exposure to large crowds.  She does fine at the grocery store, church, preschool and places like that, though.

I would love to hear what others think and whether anyone knows of any coping mechanisms for when we are in large or noisy crowds.

Re: Should I be worried? DD doesn't like large crowds.

  • My middle child had some sensory issues.  She is very slow to warm, shy, quiet, unless she is comfortable.  She hated noise, terrified of auto flushing toilets, forget about an auto air hand drier, couldn't stand tags in her clothing, hid under a table every time the doorbell rang or someone came over, over reacted to simple things, she had issues with water especially on her face/head, she avoided certain textures and foods.  These were all pretty subtle but they accumulated over time.  I swore for the longest time they weren't a big deal and it was just part of her quirky ways but I realized at the advice of a very smart OT that if it was changing her (and our) day to day, it was enough to address it.  For us, it only took a few sessions with a private OT, a calming listening program aimed at noise sensitivities and then one OT session at her school.  We also brush her 2x a day.  She's like a different kid now, more confident in her own skin, better able to cope with her environment and everything around her.  I'm so proud of how far she's come.  I really wish I would have paid more attention to it all earlier on.  I'm of the camp that it never hurts to have an OT evaluate your child if it is changing your day to day and it sounds like in your case it is.  OT's see things we don't, I was so surprised on what she picked up.  She wrote a blog post for me recently about sensory processing.  You can check it out here if you want to:  http://thestradtnerfamily.com/findingournewnormal/?p=482
  • image carlinlp:
    My middle child had some sensory issues.  She is very slow to warm, shy, quiet, unless she is comfortable.  She hated noise, terrified of auto flushing toilets, forget about an auto air hand drier, couldn't stand tags in her clothing, hid under a table every time the doorbell rang or someone came over, over reacted to simple things, she had issues with water especially on her face/head, she avoided certain textures and foods.  These were all pretty subtle but they accumulated over time.  I swore for the longest time they weren't a big deal and it was just part of her quirky ways but I realized at the advice of a very smart OT that if it was changing her (and our) day to day, it was enough to address it.  For us, it only took a few sessions with a private OT, a calming listening program aimed at noise sensitivities and then one OT session at her school.  We also brush her 2x a day.  She's like a different kid now, more confident in her own skin, better able to cope with her environment and everything around her.  I'm so proud of how far she's come.  I really wish I would have paid more attention to it all earlier on.  I'm of the camp that it never hurts to have an OT evaluate your child if it is changing your day to day and it sounds like in your case it is.  OT's see things we don't, I was so surprised on what she picked up.  She wrote a blog post for me recently about sensory processing.  You can check it out here if you want to:  http://thestradtnerfamily.com/findingournewnormal/?p=482

    These bolded parts especially sound just like my DD.  I feel crazy and overreacting when I try to explain it to others, but it just seems...a little off..when I think of all of it combined.  I'm so glad to hear you were able to get help for your DD, and I'll certainly mention an OT evaluation at her next appt.  Thank you!

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  • Most children are better able to cope with sensory issues starting at the age of 7 (see blog post linked above).  Since your dd is only 3.5, I would address it rather than wait.  Good luck to you!
  • Wow, I am soooo glad I found this post. I just posted something very similar on the 24+ month board, and you all have inspired me to ask for the OT eval. I've always felt the same...that it was all little things that weren't a big deal, but lately it has been affecting our day to day life. OP, I hope things go well for you!
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  • As PP posters have said, getting an evaluation is very appropriate. I will say that your LO sounds very much like my niece, who now at 9 years old is a beautiful, brilliant, and very social child without sensory issues. So I hope for the same outcome for your LO!
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