Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder
What is sensory processing disorder? Gaining a better understanding of SPD will not only help your child, but can you better understand your child! Adults can also have their own sensory strengths and weaknesses as well and this blog will hopefully better understand those strengths and weaknesses within yourself and for your child as well.
This is about helping children process sensory stimuli so they can further develop socially, behaviorally, physically, and cognitively. For example- Hyperactivity is a symptom of difficulty with sensory processing.
It is important to know the following:
Your child had unique sensory integration triggers
We can help our children through therapy exercises or tools.
We can help our children to understand their own sensory triggers and give them the autonomy to help themselves as they go into adulthood.
Sensory Processing Disorder
All children have 8 sensory systems:
Is my child under- or over- sensitive to any of his/her sensory systems?
Hypersensitive/Over-Reactive: Children who receive more than normal sensory signals and seek the input from the sensory system.
Hyposensitive/Under-Reactive: Children who are under-responsive to sensory signals and avoid the input from that sensory system.
The Body’s Eight Sensory Systems
The body’s spatial awareness tool, conducted by the inner ear. Allows us to maintain our body’s orientation and balance and helps it remain in control when in movement.
Over-reactive: Fear of heights, impulsive or constant movement, seeking to be upside down, motion sickness (car, plane, swing).
Under-reactive: Difficulty standing or sitting still, fear of movement activities or being upside down, claustrophobia, may be clumsy, lack of coordination.
Tactile: How the body interprets nerve receptors on the skin, includes: light touch (surface), deep touch (pressure), temperature, and pain. Ability to feel pain (itching or tickling) or temperature, move muscle, tendon, and joint position and stretch is proprioception. Ability to use motor skills and develop visual and body awareness.
Over-reactive: Defensive to touch, bothered by clothing or tags, cannot sit still, continuous movement, impulsive behaviors, motion sickness.
Under-reactive: Need to touch, desires to be touched
Proprioception: Allows body to regulate muscles and joints to allow for movement and body position. Allows body to be aware of motion, acceleration, motor control, and posture.
Over-reactive: Cannot sit still, continuous movement, impulsive behaviors.
Under-reactive: fear of movement activities or being upside down, may be clumsy, lack of coordination.
Visual: Brain’s ability to properly process the visual environment to perceive and to discriminate visual input. (Does NOT have to do with eyesight or vision).
Over-reactive: Sensitive to the sun/light, distracted by things around them.
Under-reactive: Cannot look someone in the eye, difficulty reading words on a page, dyslexia.
Auditory: Body’s ability to discriminate between sounds and sort through their hearing processes. Being able to focus on most important sound among lesser ones, distinguish between words and to follow instructions.
Over-reactive: Sensitive to loud sounds and background noise.
Under-reactive: Doesn’t hear name being called, needs repeat of directions
Olfactory: How brain deciphers between pleasant and odorous smells, while aiding or inhibiting our ability to eat, to focus or to remember information.
Over-reactive: Sensitive to smell
Under-reactive: Will overtly smell things around them
Oral or Gustatory: Mouth’s ability to process temperature, taste, and texture while eating.
Over-reactive: Picky eaters, sensitive to teeth brushing, or textures of food.
Under-reactive: Chewing on pencils, constantly putting things in mouth, nail biting.
Interoception: Body’s never response to digestion or respiration.
Over-reactive: seeks fast heartbeat through rigorous activities, taking large breaths, not eating due to liking sensation of hunger, always potty-ing.
Under-reactive: Eating more often to avoid hunger pangs, slow to potty train, avoiding fast breathing or heartbeat.
Resources: The Out of Sync Child– Carol Stock Kranowitz; The Out of Sync Child Has Fun– Carol Stock KranowitzLearn More
Consistency is Key
I am always looking for ways to teach my kids to become more independent and build their self-confidence. My nine-year-old daughter has been wanting to learn how to cook. Since I don’t think lobster bisque is quite a beginner’s meal, I needed to find something a little easier. So, I chose pancakes. After all, who doesn’t like pancakes.
After we gathered all the ingredients, we started to mix them together. She asked me how did I know when it was mixed properly, so I told her it was about the consistency of the batter. If the batter is too runny, then you end up with flat pancakes that look more like thin crust pizza. If the batter is too thick, then you get dense pancakes that don’t cook all the way through, which is not very tasty. I told her you want the batter to be kind of like melted peanut butter; thin enough to pour, but still thick enough to stick together once it hits the griddle.
This got me to thinking about my consistency in parenting her and her sister. I try to do the best I can, but I know I have room to improve. Kids need consistency in their lives to thrive. Whether it is having nighttime routines to follow or even more important consistent loving caregivers in their lives, kids do better physically, emotionally, and intellectually when they have consistency. Consistency provides stability and security for a child. This allows them the freedom to explore their world and their identities without having to worry about their own physical and emotional safety. Consistency also lets children know their limits and what is expected of them. Children who have consistency at home are often less anxious, stressed or depressed.
While it is possible to have negative consistency, such as abuse, what we are talking about here is positive consistency. If you would like help in ways to be more consistent with your children, please schedule an appointment with one of our therapists who will be glad to help.Learn More
Importance of Family Time
Importance of Family Time
(Free, Fun, Family activities!)
Why is family time so important?
Good communication within a family encourages feelings of self-worth and helps kiddos maintain good relationships with others. Children who spend time with their parents and are loved have confidence in their abilities. Family time is important because it allows family members to feel loved and secure. It also helps kids and parents to gain trust with one another. Making time for family members, communicating effectively, and supporting each other are important ways to strengthen families and build positive relationships. Working together as a family is also helpful in building strong and caring family relationships. Below are some ways to spend time with your family!
Spending time with family has a lot of benefits:
Nurtures positive behaviors and interactions
25 Free Fun Activities to do with Family:
- Build a fort/go camping in living room or backyard
- Family game night
- Create a family bucket list
- Play balloon volleyball
- Family story time
- Donate/Sell things don’t need
- Family yoga
- Nature scavenger hunt
- Take a hike/go for a walk
- Go for a bike ride
- Have a picnic
- Try geocaching
- Homemade pizza and movie
- Cook a meal together
- Bake cookies
- Try a new recipe
- Hold a lip sync concert
- Create an obstacle course (inside or outside)
- DIY from Pinterest
- Paper airplane competition
- Visit local library
- Visit free museums
- Lowes/Home Depot free classes
- Conduct a science experiment
- Learn a magic trick
12 Ways To Help Kids Calm Down
Sometimes we find it easy to tell our kids “go to your room and calm down for a while,” but do our kids actually know how to calm down on their own? I have created a list of 12 simple in the moment techniques to help calm an overstimulated child and get them into a calmer space.
Sensory Input Calming Strategies:
- Carry something heavy to engage the large muscle groups.
- Hang upside down on the jungle gym or on a couch.
- Get a really tight, long bear hug from a friend or family member.
Sensory input calming helps provide stimulation to the sensory system which works the muscles and can have a calming effect for the whole body.
Crossing the Midline Calming Strategies:
- Do cross crawls (touch one hand to opposite knee. Repeat with other side.)
- Do 20 jumping jacks then touch hand to opposite toe 20 times.
- Draw wide figure 8’s in the air in front of you. Do it with each hand.
Crossing the midline refers to exercises that cross the center of the body. These exercises activate the corpus collasum, the bundle of nerve fibers that connect the two sides of the brain. Doing this activates both sides of the brain, helping to integrate processing. Thinking with the whole brain creates a calmer, more focused mind.
Grounding Calming Strategies:
- Focus on what you hear, see, smell and feel to bring attention back to your body.
- Wash your hands for 2-3 minutes and really feel the water.
- Ball your hands into fists, then relax. Tense entire body, then relax.
Grounding is simply another term for ‘knowing what the body is doing,’ grounding can be done anywhere in as little as 60 seconds.
Mindfulness Calming Strategies:
- Do square breathing: do each for 4 seconds. Breath in, hold, breath out, hold. Repeat.
- Grab a textured object. Close your eyes and describe what it feels like.
- Jump up and down for 1 minute. Then close your eyes, put your hand on your chest and count your heartbeats.
Mindfulness is a popular technique that helps the child get in tune with what the mind is doing, and helping it find a more centered space.Learn More
The Four Pillars of Marriage
As a couples’ counselor, many people ask me what the secret is to a long and happy marriage. While no marriage is perfect, what I have found through my many years in practice and research is that there seems to be four common components to marriages that last a lifetime. I call them pillars. Pillars in construction terms are those components that are used to support and strengthen a building, so that it can bear the weight of a structure and keep it stable over time.
In marriage, the first pillar is Purpose. This is the most important one because it defines the approach to every other pillar. It can best be described as the “why”, as in “why are we doing this?”. What is the fundamental goal we are trying to achieve by committing our lives to each other? Without a defined purpose, many couples will struggle with achieving any goals in life.
The second pillar is Perspective. This is how I choose to view things in the marriage. My perspective must align with my purpose, or else I will be continually frustrated in the marriage. I have to share the same perspective with my spouse on the decisions we make, as they relate to the purpose of our relationship.
The third pillar is Patience. This is a tricky one because I only gain more patience by being in situations that require more patience than I already have. It’s the only way to grow more patient. Having the right perspective helps me achieve greater patience when needed.
The fourth pillar is Perseverance. A marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. I have to be in it for the long term. Life is filled with ups and downs, good days and bad days. In order to stay committed to my purpose, I must not let the temporary disappointments in my relationship define the long-term outcome of it. Reminding myself often of my purpose, which shapes by perspective, gives me the patience to persevere in the pursuit of my goals.
If you want to learn more about how the pillars can improve your relationship, please schedule an appointment with one of our therapists. Insurance is accepted.Learn More
Depression – How Do I Make it Stop!
It is estimated that the average thirty year old today is ten times more likely to be depressed than their parents, and twenty times more likely to be depressed than their grandparents. And most of them won’t reach out for assistance because they believe depression is a personal weakness. Welllll listen up…IT IS NOT! Although the causes of depression can vary from genetics to a medical illness, it most certainly is NOT caused by personal weakness or even choice for that matter. Most of those suffering from depression would be the first to tell you that “this depression is a bitch!.” Time after time, I have heard my depressed clients wish that they had a switch to “just turn it off,” or a pill to “just make it go away;” But it’s just not that simple.
First and foremost, let’s be clear about what depression is. So many times have I heard people use the term depression and sadness interchangeably, but depression is so much more than just sadness. According to The American Psychiatric Association, “depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Some common symptoms of depression include: feelings of hopelessness/helplessness, worthlessness, losing interest in things once enjoyable, changes in sleep and appetite habits and patterns, mood changes, such as increased irritability and anxiety, difficulty concentrating, thoughts of death, or maybe even physical changes such as headaches. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and home.” Imagine this, every time you wake up, there’s a dark cloud over your head. It seems as it, only you have this gloomy cloud following you around. Despite how many times you try to outrun it, or even stick it out, it’s still there! Everything that you do, that nagging cloud is still there. Albeit a loose analogy, many describe depression as such…just this dark cloud. So what do you do? Below are just a few suggestions in managing depression, please note that this is not an all-inclusive list, and it is best to seek professional help, in order to successfully manage and cope with symptoms of depression:
• Build a Support Network: A lot of times this task seems so difficult as it requires one to fight urge of just wanting to withdraw and isolate from others. Please keep in mind that building a healthy, strong support network is one of the most important things that you can do to help yourself. Talk with people you can trust, such as friends, family, coworkers. Find a support group and/or a Therapist in your local area, or even online.
• Learn to Tackle Negative/Unhealthy Thoughts and Emotions: With depression, many times, comes unhealthy thought patterns that perpetuate the depressive cycle. It is important to address these thought patterns, and learn to challenge and reframe them. An effective therapy modality that is helpful in tackling distorted thought patterns, is Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT. CBT is a common treatment modality that works to change common patterns of negative thinking that can contribute to depression.
• Develop Healthy Habits: Living with depression becomes a challenge, and those once healthy habits, tend to become a thing of the past. It is important to be mindful, and intentional about creating and/or re-implementing healthy habits. These can habits include, improving sleep hygiene, bettering eating habits, journaling, and/or engaging in physical exercise, to name a few. All of these changes have been linked to improving one’s mood. On the flip side of developing healthy habits, it is important to remove all unhealthy coping skills, such as substance and/or alcohol use, as these become counterproductive as they in turn can increase feelings of depression.
• Create a Routine: Trying to commit decreased motivation and energy can be tough, so start small, by jus creating a routine and sticking with that routine with minimal disruptions. Try scheduling an activity that you have to do once a day, make try to make it something that you enjoy doing. The purpose of creating structure is to aid in creating balance in ones life.
• Seek Professional Help: If you’ve tried to navigate your depression on your own, and haven’t felt any relief, now may be the time to seek help. Whether you seek help from a psychiatrist or medical doctor, for medication interventions, or from a professional counselor, it is important that you seek help before it is too late. If symptoms worsen and you begin to feel that your life is no longer “worth it”, and start to have thoughts of suicide, seek immediate assistance by calling 911, presenting to your nearest emergency room, and/ or calling the National Suicide Hotline at: 1-800-273-8255, which provides free, confidential,24/7 support for those in crisis.
As preciously mentioned, this is not an all-inclusive list of the symptoms of depression, nor a full list on how to cope. It is best to seek professional help to aid you or your loved one in coping with depression. Remember that Depression is treatable, and is not something that anyone should have to struggle with alone. DON’T WAIT, GET HELP TODAY!Learn More