Sensory Processing Disorder(25 Posts)
DS1 is 4.6 and starts reception in September. I have strongly suspected for a while that he has sensory issues, specifically sensory seeking but with lots of sensitivities, too. Some of the things he does:
Hits his head with hand/against a chair
Hugs classmates too tightly for too long
Hates standing in a line
Puts his hands over his ears at the slightest sound
Makes lots of noise when doing things
Is easily startled
Jumps off everything
There are loads more! He is really bright, can read already and has a huge vocab and fab sense of humour but I'm so worried that these behaviours are going to get in the way of his learning. He's getting into trouble already (sensory seeking behaviour is bloody annoying!!!) and I want to access Occupational Therapy for him so that we can meet lots of his sensory needs elsewhere.
How do I get a referral to the OT? Is SPD even a recognised condition requiring therapy? Grateful for any help!
NHS doesn't recognise SPD. It's more common to have SPD with other diagnosis of aspergers or ADHD but kids can have it in isolation.
We paid for our own OT. Talk to the SENCO at school if probably your first step.
I would ask to speak to the school SENCO, thats who referred my dd to the OT. I found getting it formally recognised and making sure the school were aware of the issues was really helpful.
From what you have said it def sounds like your ds does have sensory difficulties.
Thank you for replying, quirky
He's not in school yet so I might have to wait. A friend has an OT who might be able to help.
Any more advice/experiences gratefully received!
Thanks, girlie, I really think I'd like to get some help in place before he starts school. I'm worried these issues will get in the way of his enjoyment of learning and socialising.
Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I had (have?) some sensory issues as a child, and also bad anxiety.
Hi I would recommend the book "the out of sync child" it goes through the senses including vestibular and proprioceptive and has some good suggestions of calming and alerting activities.
Thanks skedaddled - I actually have a copy but have mislaid it somewhere. Will get reading!!
OTs can be invaluable for this, but are like hens teeth in our authority. They do exist, however, and can see people who are pre-school age. Ask your GP or HV to refer you. I suspect it is different in different authorities, but our OTs don't accept referrals from Education professionals, only from Health professionals, so pre-schools / Nurseries can't refer in like they can to most services. Do ask though - these things vary around the country.
Waiting lists are long though, so, depending on finance, it might also be worth investigating a private assessment and their advice of what might help.
In our authority, the Area SENCos can actually give a lot of generalised advice / strategies to try whilst they are on the waiting list, so if your ds is at Pre-school it is worth asking them to investigate this route.
There is also information / strategies to try on the AET (Autism Education Trust) website - not suggesting he has autism, but a lot of people with autism are dealing with SPD as part of their autism, hence the strategies being there.
My DD is similar, but wasn't deemed severe enough to need OT input so was trial and error at home. Now she is 9 she describes sometimes feeling as "like when your on a boat and not sure where your arms and feet will land" especially if her clothes are loose or she has a dress on. She still has a weighted blanket and likes a heavy cardi to wear at school, an under-armour compression top might help with your DS feel more grounded too.
If he likes to chew have a look at www.thesensorystore.co.uk they have chewable jewellery which might help. Definitely echo what people have said about speaking to the SENCO my son (year 1) isnt diagnosed but has some strong indicators and when I mentioned SPD the SENCO said "that would make sense". Like yours he over hugs, cant stand being in a line or being overcrowded on the carpet which led to a few problems in reception before I started looking further into the reasons why he did these things/felt like this. The school give him a spot to sit on at the side of the carpet and make sure that he is at the front or back of the line, he also prefers to work at a table on his own. His teacher has made a pack up for supply/new staff to tell them what works for him and to "help him have the best day he can" which is awesome (but also a little sad).
Does DD go to nursery? They can refer to OT. Interesting people saying OT are hard to come by - they are by far the easiest in our authority! If you want to see SALT however, prepare for a wait...
We were told by OT that SPD isn't a recognised diagnosis in the U.K. at the moment however obviously recognise that lots of children have sensory processing needs, and act accordingly. As a senco, I'd want to know if your child was starting at my school so I could get things in place asap. Perhaps call the office and ask to make an appointment.
Apologies - didn't realise that education settings couldn't refer to OT in some places, you absolutely can in mine (Sefton) and I do it a lot!! Definitely worth finding out.
DS is like this and he has ASD. DD is also like this and is waiting for assessment. Don't let the advanced verbal skills stop you thinking about ASD, you can still be autistic and a precocious communicator.
DS likes to wear things back to front and too small for him.
This book is great we have put page markers on the relevant pages.
He goes to the preschool attached to the school, they hadn't heard of SPD - I hadn't mentioned it but, funnily enough, there's another little boy who has SPD in his preschool class, whose mum is making preschool aware of the condition.
Perhaps I can mention it if he has a 'transition into reception' meeting? I just feel like 'one of those' parents, like it's an excuse for his bizarre behaviour, but I'm upset at being told that his behaviour's been poor when he's anxious about standing in a line, or wants to hug everyone too much (I always sanction him but maybe I just need to meet his needs better?)
You guys are the best, thank you jugot is your DS seeing an OT?
The Out of Sync Child is well worth reading and i had a few lightbulb moments when reading it!
Dd is 11yo and has always had issues with certain things but I just thought she was sensitive and quirky, it was only around age 7-8yo that it became apparent that there was something else going on. I had never heard of SPD and once i started to find out about it lots of things started to make sense!
I was lucky as managed to see an O.T fairly quickly and she was so useful, gave lots of helpful advice and support. I found adds G.P was completely dismissive though
If you don't have a diagnosis or any assessments to share with school, they may want to monitor things in the first few weeks before putting formal support in place. You can check their SEN policy - it should be on their website - also check the SEN code of practice which was updated in 2014 when the law around SEN was changed. Both of those will explain what schools should do to support a child with SEN. It's called SEN Support (used to be 2 steps - School Action and School Action Plus). My DS started preschool at his primary school at age 3 yrs 9 months and they picked up on his difficulties very early on, within a few weeks (less even), and started putting things in place like referrals to Ed Psych, SLT and OT. You could go to your GP now and ask for a referral but the process is lengthy and in my area of London involves general referral for developmental concerns before onward referrals to specialists. All in all it took over a year. If you can afford private assessments (e.g. Ed Psych, OT) it might help speed things up at school at least in demonstrating that there are recognised difficulties from the outset. The assessments reports should explain what adjustments your DS will need in order for him to manage at school and what support he will need - e.g. quiet place for him to go when he is overwhelmed, support at lunchtime/playtimes when things get noisy, later on perhaps the positioning of his table and chair in the classroom to help him concentrate and avoid distractions etc etc. An early meeting with the SENCO would be good too.
Definitely mention it, you would be 'one of those' parents to me, you'd be seen as a very helpful and proactive parent who is eager for support which is brilliant in my book! Sencos are very used to hearing from parents, do what you need to for you little boy
NHS definitely accepts SPD as a diagnosis, although they call in sensory integration disorder. DS was diagnosed by his NHS paediatrician who referred him to OT unfortunately there are so few where we live that he was offered a grand total of a 1 hour session. We have had to pay for a private OT. DS is in Reception, school have been great, he struggles with some things but overall he is doing ok.
I also meant to say that you don't need a formal diagnosis of SPD or anything in fact to get the support in place, all you need is to either provide evidence to the school that your DS has difficulties, particularly ones that may prevent him from accessing the curriculum, or if you don't have that (i.e. no assessments from relevant professionals), to explain your concerns to them and then agree that they will observe him from the outset.
My dd is 11 and has SPD. She copes a lot better these days but when she was younger she saw a Play Therapist who really helped her a lot.
I worried about her transition from pre school to school because she couldn't cope with noise, amongst many other things.
The Play Therapy gave her ways to cope with noise and that helped with the transition.
Her other huge issue relates to clothes and shoes. She still struggles with this but her school have been very understanding.
It really helps to hear so much excellent advice from professionals and parents, thank you! I teach in a secondary comprehensive so I see lots of SEN on a daily basis but hadn't come across SPD (although many of my ASD/ADHD students must have sensory issues).
He isnt seeing an OT - i tried the GP who was very dismissive then tried self referral to local authority to be told that the NHS dont assess for SPD so now doing all we can whilst getting some ££ for a private assessment. Iv worked in early years forever and so always used to do lots of sensory play etc with him and didnt think about it but when he went to school and we had less time to do those things is when I noticed the problems. I keep a big bowl of lentils/rice/dried peas on the side and he can spend ages just playing with those - I put small toys in for him to find. If he is stressed i send him to find his beans!
I am lucky in that his needs arent that bad compared to some but one of our big battles was SOCKS every school morning the drama of putting socks and shoes on was unreal, until he eventually told me that they hurt (after a whole year of reception!) Now we have sensory socks and that battle has gone.
We try to minimise the triggers, develop coping stratagies and if we can remove the worst offenders. Now we can chat about things as he feels able to talk to me about some problems but he still finds it hard to find the words for how he feels or why he does things. He has had ELSA support from school as well.
Coincidently the SENCO has told me that there are a few children in the school with sensory issues but as there is no funding there is nothing extra they can do for them - so frustrating.
I've just read The Out-Of-Sync Child and have come to the realisation that I've got SPD, too!
Whereas I think DS1 is a sensory craver, I'm more on the tactile overresponsivity side of things, which I think badly affected my confidence as a child in lots of ways and made me incredibly anxious.
I've made contact with an OT who is happy to assess DS1 and do some therapy with him.
Thank you all for your advice
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