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Sensory issues and ASD

(13 Posts)
CurrerBell Thu 03-Apr-14 22:24:01

I posted on the thread in AIBU earlier and thought I'd come over here. smile

My DS is 7yo and is in Year 2. He has a diagnosis of Asperger's/HFA. We have wondered for a long time whether he actually has PDA, as he has lots of demand avoidance issues - but he is also very Aspergerish...

In some ways his autism seems very mild - he can interact pretty well with people when he is calm, and he can be very caring and loves cuddles. He is very bright and can be very verbal. However he quickly (and often unpredictably) goes into overload and either zones out or gets very hyper and runs off.

An occupational therapist recently assessed him at school, and thinks he has significant sensory issues - even for a child with ASD. Her report particularly highlighted his movement and sensory seeking behaviour. He is also hypersensitive to noise (unless he's in control of it!). He often spins on the spot (even when he's apparently calm) or bashes into things, or throws things compulsively. He constantly sucks on his fingers or clothes.

He is unable to sit still (he rarely sits at all!) and sometimes he runs out during lessons. He also tends to call out and repeat words as a kind of verbal tic. He is also inappropriately tactile with his classmates, and this has got him into lots of trouble - he is particularly tactile with girls. It is really becoming worrying now as he's about to start Juniors. We are in the process of applying for a statement, which (finally!) everyone agrees is needed.

Anyway... I'm wondering whether to ask for an official diagnosis of SPD, based on the OC's report? I'm not sure if SPD is assumed to be part of ASD, or whether DS's issues would warrant an additional diagnosis.

Also, is there any kind of therapy available for these specific issues? We have not been offered anything at all since the original diagnosis...

Jacksterbear Thu 03-Apr-14 22:38:36

Hello. He sounds very similar to my DS, also 7, who has dxes of SPD, anxiety, and ASD with a PDA profile. We have found sensory integration therapy to be hugely helpful with his sensory issues. Off to bed now but will post more tomorrow!

Redoubtable Thu 03-Apr-14 22:45:46

Sensory processing issues are typical of children on the spectrum; the degree or type of issue varies from child to child.

Yes, there is therapy available- OT's who have done additional training in Sensory Integration can devise a programme +/- treat in clinic.

You may have to seek a private therapist as it is not always available through NHS.

There are lots of resources about that you can use to educate yourself
The Out of Sync Child book is often recommended as a starting point.

CurrerBell Thu 03-Apr-14 23:22:21

Thanks for the replies - I will check out that book. It is frustrating that no one seems to be able to help DS, despite the amount of professionals who've assessed him.

I want school to build some kind of therapy breaks into his day to reduce his stress (but he doesn't even have 1:1 most of the time). I know the statement (if he gets one) will need to say exactly what kind of help he needs, so I want to know what to ask for...

PolterGoose Fri 04-Apr-14 07:12:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolterGoose Fri 04-Apr-14 07:14:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jacksterbear Fri 04-Apr-14 09:04:20

Morning. Re the separate dx: I suspect we only have it because we got it first, before the ASD dx which was given later. I'm not sure how much difference a separate dx makes, but I would have thought that the important thing is to have the difficulties acknowledged and assessed, and a therapy plan put in place.

Re what to ask for: an OT would be able to draw up a sensory diet (individualised therapy schedule) with very specific activities and timings. We did pay for this privately as the NHS OT service has been useless. But it's been very worth it as school have agreed to follow the OT's recommendations and schedule.

PolterGoose Fri 04-Apr-14 09:15:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bochead Fri 04-Apr-14 11:37:01

Get thee to a private OT - honestly this was the professional that improved the quality of DS's daily life 100 fold.

Nowadays DS is home schooled, so being self-funding I have to be VERY selective as to what professional inputs he has. OT is at the top of my list, and will continue to be for the duration.

CurrerBell Fri 04-Apr-14 13:15:17

Thank you all - that's really useful. I am going to go back to the OT who observed him in class - she seemed very good - and ask about a private programme of therapy. Have also ordered the books mentioned.

School said they have a 'behaviour chart' in relation to DS running out of class. I tried to say that this won't work, as when he goes into overload he is not thinking rationally - his brain is over-firing! Behavioural approaches don't help. Reducing his stress is the key.

I was watching DS last night and he was spinning round and round on the spot, twirling a toy with him. It does seem to help him regulate himself. He says he doesn't feel dizzy (although occasionally he does lose his balance and falls over).

Someone on the other thread mentioned medication... I don't want to go down this route, but if things get really bad at school I want to know what the options are. Is it the same medication as for ADHD?

One very positive thing is that my DS likes cuddles, and has recently started giving me big squeezy hugs! He likes gentle touch, strokes etc as well as deep touch - so it's more his movement issues that I worry about.

Redoubtable Fri 04-Apr-14 13:26:55

You are so right in relation to the 'behaviour chart'.

Anxiety is a well recognised issue in ASD; anxiety is a limbic brain function and as such is not amenable to reward systems such as behavioral charts.
They may be useful as an adjunct once the underlying issue is addressed.

But if you have sensory processing issues, using a behavioural reward chart is akin to rewarding some one for not reacting to a bomb going off.

There is no doubt, some behaviours become 'entrenched' but the way to deal with that is handle the underlying issue first.
Get the OT to help you devise a sensory diet that will give his brain what it is looking for. Then, he can settle to learn.

PolterGoose Fri 04-Apr-14 13:27:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CurrerBell Fri 04-Apr-14 14:48:07

That is a good analogy 'Redoubtable', re the behavioural reward chart / bomb reaction. I have some sensory issues myself and was very dreamy and absent-minded at school - DS shows it in much more dramatic ways but I do get where he's coming from. He doesn't mean to upset anyone - he wants people to be pleased with him and really wants to learn!

Polter, our DSs do sound very similar. I saw on the other thread about your DS having a great sense of humour - mine often makes up his own jokes too. smile He doesn't comform to many of the stereotypes! Thanks for the link - have printed it out for school.

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