Remember the story about the Princess and the Pea? After too many mornings of tears and frustration over getting dressed, the Queen finally called the town doctor for advice on how to deal with this behavior. The Queen and King were at their wits end on stopping this defiant behavior. And that is when the doctor informed them that the Princess had Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD.
What is SPD? It's a neurological issue where the body has difficulty processing information from the five senses, the sense of movement (vestibular system), and/or the positional sense (proprioception). It's like walking outside into the bright sunlight after being indoor and your first response is to squint and block the light with your eyes. After a few seconds, your body adjusts and you are fine. But for people that are over-responsive, their body's don't adjust. A misplaced seam on a sock can cause severe discomforted to the point where they can be writhing on the floor in literal pain. A pencil dropping on the floor can sound like a canon going off. And then there are those who are under-responsive to stimulation. They might not respond to a normal voice command, they might not notice smells that others complain about. Thirdly, SPD can manifest itself in seeking behaviors. A Seeker might intentionally fall on the floor or bump into items. A Seeker might crave "squishy" activities. Usually a person with SPD has a combination of these main elements.
Morgan's main diagnosis is tactial overresponsiveness, auditory underresponsiveness with vestibular and proprioception seeking.
She hates to walk on grass barefooted, claiming it's too itchy.
- She never liked playing in sandboxes.
- She complains that her seatbelt is too tight - even when it isn't.
- Hoodies, jeans, zippers, buttons, tights, socks, shoes and boots bother her.
- Her hair, shirt sleeve or shirt collar is always soaking wet from constantly chewing on it.
- She is constantly jumping on the furniture, crashing against the floors and walls.
- She inappropriately climbs on, clings to and enters other people's personal space - often accidently hurting someone.
- Once she gets excited, it appears as if she's lost all control of her body - she doesn't know where her limbs stop. She often trips and flops around.
- She spins constantly.
- She often sits upside down (hanging from the couch) and likes to be flipped.
- She has frequent, intense tantrums that last for an extensive period of time.
The list could go on and on but you get the gist of it.
I was a member of an online parenting community for the first several years. There was a group of us that had what we called "High Needs" children: children that needed more attention, more redirection, had more frequent and more out of control tantrum, and had excessive energy. Children that just didn't seem to be as easy to raise as the majority. I have since found out that two other kids from this group have SPD. I would not be suprised to find out that more of them have this.