Sunday, January 6, 2013

So far greatest challenges - sensory and sleeping - tips for families

So we've been home now for nearly 4 months and Lauren is doing very well.  Her speech is gradually getting better in English with her favorite words : apple, purple, night-night, and (unfortunately) "no".  She's gaining in confidence which has brought on some behavior issues.  Only when the incident is over do I often realize it is ALL sensory related.  On the sleeping issue:  I can sum it up like this -- I only wish we didn't do the co-sleeping.  I know it's been great for bonding - this girl is certainly attached.  But it is impossible to get her to sleep in her room ... in this area, we really need help... and will likely seek that out this week with a counselor that is trained by Purvis' team and knows alot about adoption and is a trained family therapist.   

So to share a bit of info. with all of you.  I found this great summary of sensory stuff - so I've copied here below.  I'm going to go on the limb here - but to say - that more than likely if you child has been in an orphanage - (and not a home setting) - you child will probably have some level of sensory issues.  Understanding sensory is the BEST thing you can do for your own peace of mind :)

Here is the article source from the internet: (it has a bit more explanation - but I really liked how they explained the 7 categories that I've copied here below).

There are seven categories of symptoms in sensory integration dysfunction.

These are:

Visual: the ability to accurately process and respond to what one sees.

Olfactory: the ability to accurately process and respond to different smells.

Oral: the ability to correctly process and respond to input in the mouth.

Auditory: the ability to correctly perceive and respond to a wide variety of sounds.

Proprioception: the ability to sense position, and process input from joints, muscles movement and changes in position.

Vestibular: the ability to process and respond to information about gravitational changes, movement, equilibrium and where your body is in space.

Tactile: the ability to accurately process and respond to information from the skin regarding touch, movement, pressure, or pain.

This link provides even a way that you can almost "self-diagnose your child by looking at what your child does and see what category that it falls within. - see below or hit this link.

Below are listed the 7 sensory groups and symptoms suggesting possible disorders:

Tactile: Avoidance of touch, high pain tolerance, poor coordination, cleansing of hands and/or other body parts often, dislike of grooming (brushing teeth and/or hair, etc.), placing hands or fingers in mouth often, continuously in motion, walks heavily or on toes, avoids particular textures in food, clothes, or other substances, and dislikes wearing clothing, clothing tags, socks, and/or shoes.

Auditory: Over or under reacts to loud noises, tantrums easily or appears to ignore others, covers ears frequently, repeated humming or singing to self, evades large groups of people, listens to TV, radio, etc., at unreasonably elevated volumes, bothered by environmental commotion, impediment of speech, tearing and/or crumpling paper or other such items, and keen to sounds others disregard.

Visual: Views items (toys, books, etc.) close to face, positions objects in rows, repetitive opening and shutting of doors and/or drawers, continuously turning lights on and off, enthralled by shiny and/or reflective items (mirrors, glass, etc.), frequent rubbing and/or squinting of eyes, agitated with nearby movements in environment, aversions or exercising overdo caution when shifting between different types of floor coverings, and appears overly sensitive to light.

Taste: Gnaws on items (toys, clothes, etc.), places fingers and/or hands in mouth often, prefers food either bland or extremely tasty, prefers to eat only a few select foods (finicky eater), trouble brushing teeth: gags, chokes, etc., and rejects food items that appear to be altered in color or usual appearance.

Olfactory: Frequently complains of certain odors, avoids places that are aromatic (kitchen, bathroom, restaurants, zoos, etc.), does not like group settings, commonly sniffs food before and/or while eating, repeatedly smells everyday household items, gags and/or vomits when around specific odors, and smears feces and/ or loathes to be soiled.

Vestibular: Panics when upside down and/or tilted to one side, terrified of feet leaving the ground, becomes nervous around water, hills, and/or stairways, continuously in motion, affecting attention and communication, seems to move awkwardly, repeatedly jumps and/or spins (may appear calmer after such activities), and may not enjoy riding in vehicles (becomes ill from the movement).

Proprioceptive: Trouble with fine motor dexterity (grasping tiny objects, drawing, writing, coloring, pouring, etc.), poor coordination, prefers rough play, often breaking toys and other items, positions body in strange stances, gets pleasure from falling down, dangling by arms, and/or jumping, has trouble using silverware correctly: prefers hands, and has a tendency to support self by clinging to other people, furniture, and other secure items.

Per the website: Our physical senses are intended to assist us. Deficiencies in these areas encourage a variety of visible behavioral difficulties. Identifying these distinctions early allows the necessary actions to be implemented. Sensory issues may be altered with treatment. The capacity to understand the world would become less complicated for those affected. Realistic encounters within their environments would become more productive and less confusing.

So for our little miss here are some of the things she does:
She has a high pain tolerance (we're told nerve endings are not developed so she doesn't feel pain) - that will develop over time. She likes clean hands, constantly brushes her teeth (she has some amazing white teeth), when she's in her "sensory seeking mode" - she's constantly in motion, loves to listen to music (and has it VERY loud), likes to turn on and off lights in the house, chews on things in the house (toys, plastic straws, etc -- but so does Joshua - he's very oral), spins in circles making herself dizzy, before her feet braces she fell often and was quite unbalanced and had underdeveloped coordination (she has gotten sooooo much better with feet braces and through PT), absolutely LOVES to be dangling from her arms, swinging upside down, bouncing, moving around the house touching EVERYTHING etc.  So our general understanding is she's tactile (which explains why after an episode with her last night she calmed when playing in the bath tub -- she loved the feel of the water running through her hands), some auditory, visual and taste (we think only slightly), with high vestibular, and proprioceptive.  You may say.... if she loves to hang upside down then how can she be vestibular (because they don't like their feet leaving the ground)... we've been told that SOME of these things listed above depend on whether the child is either hypo-sensory or hyper-sensory. So for a hyper-sensory (sensory-seeker - vestibular can be oppositeloving the things listed above -- (i.e., she LOVES to have her feet off the ground, loves dangling, swinging, etc.) - Hope this makes sense. 

A bit more on hypo- verses hyper:!sensory

The two sides of sensory dysfunction are hypo-sensory or hyper-sensory.   Hypo-sensory children tend to want to cover themselves up.  They use blankets, pillows, or anything that is soft and squishy to make them feel like they are in a cocoon. (this is an addition by Renae:  these kids often need their surroundings quiet and calm - very little noise, even the turning on of a furnace in the home can bother some of these kids).   

The other end of the sensory scale is hyper-sensory.  These children tend to like to be spun really fast or go on rides that are fast and really bumpy.  Because we don’t have access to carnivals everyday, furniture becomes a great replacement.  They will jump off the couches, off the stairs or just fall on the ground so that he/she body feels that impact, usually with no regard for safety.  They will seem that they can't  get enough physical activity or sensory input on certain days.

For Lauren, she is clearly hyper-sensory - but it seems like it comes and goes -- it's not ALL the time, but she certainly needs some sort of sensory input every day.  All of this we are told will help with OT - but if you recall from a previous post, we stopped OT (we will likely do it again in the future).... instead we are giving her sensory inputs when the need comes up.  We are told however that OT actually helps "rewire" the brain - develop all those connections that didn't get connected early on and these sensory issues can go away with time.  So for now..... we take life a day at a time, we play, read books, and live life.  

Your first task is to deterimine if your child is hypo- or hyper sensory.  Once you know that - then evaluate the 7 categories to see which one seems to fit your child.  After that, we're told put them on a "sensory diet" - doing certain things and taking certain steps -- this is about where we are - so still learning this area.
Hope all this helps.
All the best from our busy family to yours.


  1. Love that you are posting all of this!! It's like a handy dandy reference book all summed up in one spot!! Thank you for doing this! Praying for continued wisdom for you :)

  2. This is so interesting....I will have to come back to it when V comes home. I remember reading in one of the adoption books, it might have been Purvis's, that everyone has some sort of sensory issues, and then they listed some common ones. And I am so sensitive to noise. I can't stand having music on in the background, or a t.v. on....I don't like it if the boys get super loud.... Anyway, I thought it so interesting to realize that all of us have some sensory issues...just not as big as a child who has been in an orphanage. :)

    Oh...and I'm totally logged in as Sarah, and too lazy to change it. So, it's really Meredith.

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