Thursday, October 16, 2008

What I wish people knew about SPD, part 2

Thanks for all the great comments on our previous posts. And thanks to my guest bloggers, too. It seems like there are a lot of people posting about SPD this month, which is really exciting. I hope you guys aren't sick of hearing of SPD yet. I still have a couple more posts in the works. But, I promise to go back to regularly scheduled programming (which is mostly me whining about life, really) next month.

6. There are a lot of great sensory activities that are good for all kids, whether they have sensory problems or not.
The more I learn about SPD, the more I wish I had known this all sooner. Not just for Danny's sake, but for the sake of my high school students. I wish I had known how important movement is to learning, how it helps people, not just kids, to focus on difficult concepts. Also, adding a multisensory approach to teaching kids of all ages can help you reach kids who may learn a bit differently than the "average" kid (which, in my experience, includes many, many kids, not just those with special needs. These are the kids who learn better with hands-on experience or who are more visual learners, for example.) Anyway, I am hoping to have a post that specifically addresses this issue and that gives lots of great activities to do with kids. I have asked a couple of people to contribute, so stay tuned for that post.

7. Look for their strengths, not just their weaknesses.
This is something I often forget to do. Some days I am so focused on what is going wrong that I forget to look at how far Danny has come. And because he has difficulty in many areas, such as communication, it is easy to overlook his many strengths, like his amazing visual memory, his exuberance and love of life, his sense of humor, and how he protects and looks out for his little sister.

8. Ask questions.
I know you may feel awkward, but please ask questions. I have a friend at church whose daughter has been a bit scared of Danny. She is a rather timid little girl and an only child. She is not used to roughhousing of any kind and Danny makes her nervous. Sometimes he is a bit rough. Other times, it is not that he is being rough with her, but just that he is running and playing so hard she worries that he might run into her. Anyway, her mother asked me some questions so that she could better explain to her daughter why Danny did some of the things he did. She also asked me for tips to make her daughter feel more comfortable. It actually made me feel really good that L could ask me these questions. To me, it showed that she wanted to help her daughter understand Danny and help their friendship grow. It proved that she cared about us and wasn't going to avoid us just because they had a rocky start. Plus, I could tell she was not at all judgmental.

9. Give the kid space.
This one is so important, I should have put it first. Also, I think this probably applies to most kids. When Danny is upset, the last thing he wants is someone in his face trying to talk him out of his feelings. It makes sense. How would you feel if you were really crabby and your husband, who understood nothing of what had happened, just told you to get a grip and get over it? Sometimes kids just need some time and space to deal with their feelings of frustration and disappointment. A well-meaning man at Church is constantly lecturing Danny when he is struggling. This man typically has no idea what precipitated the problems for Danny, but that doesn't stop him from basically arguing with my son about why he should obey me.
The other side of this is many kids need literal space. Danny doesn't like people touching him a lot, especially strangers and especially if they haven't asked him first. This he gets completely from me. He doesn't like to be in a crowd with people pushing up against him; another trait he inherited from me. So if a child bristles at your touch, be sensitive to the fact that he/she may need some space.

10. Respect the kid and his boundaries.
The longer I am a mother, the more I realize that we expect some pretty crazy things from our kids sometimes. I have often been amazed at how often a parent will expect their child to do something they themselves would never do. A prime example of this is kissing. How many times will a parent practically force their kid to kiss a relative or friend, often someone the kid doesn't really feel comfortable with? I have done this myself and I really regret it. I would be livid if someone tried to force or guilt me into kissing someone with whom I was uncomfortable. There are many examples of this, but I won't go into it here. I guess my point is, let's show the kids some respect. It goes a long way towards helping them cope with life and learn how to respect others.

Thanks for indulging me here. Please feel free to share what you wish people understood about kids, those with special needs or not.


kia (good enough mama) said...

OH man, number ten is a huge one around here! In our house, this one should be in BOLD PRINT to remind Hubby and myself about it. As always, Patty, thanks for putting this out there. I've given you a little award-thingy tonight. Come check it out. :)

Elizabeth Channel said...

Thank you, Patty, for your honesty. I guess if I had to pick the #1 thing I wish people knew, it's that many times a child with SPD will present as an intelligent well-spoken, mature child with wisdom beyond his or her years, and the next minute they might behave like a 2-year-old craving candy and throwing a fit. It's not parenting or discipline. It's simply a matter of their sensory diet being out of whack.

mrsbear said...

I think you've done a great job putting this information out there. Even though I don't struggle with these issues, I've appreciated learning about SPD. I don't know that I'll look at kids the same again, or dismiss a child's behavior as a simple discipline issue.