Defining Sensory Processing Disorder

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As a parent there are always those moments you question your parenting ability, followed by questioning your sanity.  And as a Sensory Parent if you don’t have someone to bounce thoughts and ideas off of you start to think that maybe it really is all your fault your child goes “crazy” sometimes (or in our case – can’t sooth herself to sleep). 

A dear friend we were once visiting said more serious than joking, though it was delivered in a way that sounded a touch like humor to soften it I think: “I don’t know why you guys make sleep such a big deal, driving her around for naps (2 times a day when she was 18 months old!).   You just let kids run around until they’re tired and let them fall asleep under the dinner table.   That’s what we did with our kids.”  And I found myself thinking “God, really? Some kids will do that?  Maybe my approach has been all wrong.”  But then I remembered the 3 hours of bouncing her to sleep as a baby, the completely failed attempts at some kind of sleep training ending up with the whole family in a puddle of stress, exhaustion and tears on the floor after hours of screaming (didn’t those cursed sleep training books say no more than an hour and as little as 10 min!? –  thankfully a few of the books mentioned the technique wouldn’t work on a very small percentage of especially alert babies – ’cause we clearly had an outlyer).

But these idiosyncrasies are the dark side of the moon of parenting.   The negative space that defines the shape of your child, but most people don’t see. Our dear friend had no context to know that what works for 95 percent of children wouldn’t work for my child ever.   And while I knew this at the time he said these words to me, I didn’t yet know my child had a disability. A disability is defined as something that interferes with one’s ability to perform or complete daily tasks.   And it feels wierd to me to label my child with a disorder when she may look totally normal to you.   But the reality is that she cannot physiologically do things that others can because her brain is wired differently.

I sometimes get funny looks when I tell people Isis has sensory processing disorder.   People see a snap shot of a typical Bay area kid running around bare foot, going potty on her training toilet, and spinning on the tire swing. 

But I see a child who can’t wear shoes because her feet are overly reactive to touch and will grip endlessly, a child terrified of any bathroom that isn’t her own because of the echoing and uncontrollable noise, and a child seeking the calming sensory input of extreem physical motion because her vestibular system under registers movement.

While she is an extremely capable girl she is limited in her daily activities by her condition.

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