June 8, 2008

Sensory Integration Disorder II

You might be relieved to hear that Xander has resolved his issues with both water and grass, but like many kids with SID they tend to replace tactile dislikes with new issues. For example, this year we've battled with chewing unlike any other year.

He tends to chew everything...clothing, toys, and even his hands.

You may be sitting back wondering why on earth a child would chew on his hands of all things. Doesn't that HURT? *I* would think so but despite the new marks and scabs that come with chewing ones hands it doesn't seem that he is effected by that type of pain.

The truth is, he has always been quite tough in the pain department. It is as if he doesn't feel it like normal kids. He doesn't,as a matter of fact. It never ceased to amaze me that this child could go full speed into a wall, rendering quite a black bruise on his forehead and walk away laughing. He has landed on the ground outside on his head from about 4 feet above and walked away with a smile. He took a three-wheeler (no engine) and rolled it down a hill and wanted to go again.

Needless to say--this is scary for a parent.

There have been two times in his 6 years that I have seen him cry over an injury:

1. He broke his arm on the trampoline. Not much crying, but the way we could tell he was truly hurt was that he didn't just get up and walk away. He wanted me to hold him and NOT TOUCH IT.

2. Jagger pushed him off of the top bunk of their beds and he sprained his ankle...same thing.

The funny thing about both situations is that it took a very long time for him to get over the incidences emotionally, rather than physically. Long after the injuries had healed he would hold his arm in the same position as the brace had held it, as well as crawling rather than walking.

Both of these things, information found here....chewing and lack of pain show signs of hypo-sensitivity:


An individual who is hypo-sensitive to proprioceptive sensations has a high threshold, meaning he/she needs more input gain sensation. As a result such individuals may seek out additional proprioceptive sensations to increase his/her knowledge of where his/her body is in the environment. Some individuals may rock back and forth, bang his/her head, or run into furniture (crashing). Such behavior may also be seen as an escape from hypersensitivity to other sensations (remember proprioceptive input is often calming).

Under-responsive (hypo-sensitive) Tactile Discrimination

This child under-reacts to tactile stimulation and needs extra stimulation by touching other people and objects. Both soft and painful tactile stimulation may not be felt leaving the child defenseless in dangerous situation because he/she may not react to the experience (Kranowitz, 1998). This child needs very intense touch stimulation to receive adequate information about objects and textures that may result in the child exhibiting certain behaviors.

Behaviors We May See

Hitting, Slapping, Pinching, Squeezing, Grabbing, Pulling
The child may do this to him/herself or to other people or objects to receive intense tactile sensations. This type of sensory input to the palm of the hand may also override painful responses to light touch (Yack et. al, 1998). Things that we can do to help the child meet these needs in a more productive way are to provide joint compressions, deep touch, and provide opportunities for the child to do heavy work (e.g. push, pull, carry weighted objects). When the child is engaging in these activities because of anxiety, provide calming stimulation and touch that he/she craves.

What We Do

We have found that providing items that are 'appropriate' for chewing helps him understand that some things are not. He has two ARK Grabber XTs, as well as a Chewlery necklace. Sugar-free gum also helps satisfy his need to chew. The deep pressure he craves is met with tightly wrapping him in his favorite blanket. He wants me to do this every time he goes to bed so that he can sleep like that as well as wanting me to hold him tightly in his blanket during the day. He loves the trampoline, jumping on the bed, ramming the couch....even slamming his head repeatedly into a mattress. (We don't really like the last one.)

Something I do when I can't sit down with him that exact moment is wrap him tightly in his blanket and place him in his beanbag. This provides a cocoon-like environment that he enjoys. (Especially if Star Wars is playing at the same time.)


Tournesol said...

Hi Angela

As I have mentioned before my 'functioning label' is Asperger syndrome (AS) although I am of the opinion that autism and AS are the same disorder and there are comorbid factors involved just as there are with the 'normals'.

Back to the topic of hand biting, pinching, and digging one's nails in oneself. Yes I do them all still as well as rubbing my favourite clothes between my fingers although I have stopped throwing myself into things. :)

To answer your question do I feel pain? Yes, however I do not respond to it in the same way a normal might, for me it is a cathartic act or a release of 'emotional pain'. This is rather a difficult concept for normals to grasp so I will try to give your readers an example: Imagine your best friend has lost someone close to them and you hold off grieving in order to support your friend. It works for a while yet in the end one's own bottled up emotions are subliminated or escapes in different form; for example bursting in to tears over something minor and totally unrelated. In my case, if I cannot control my angst through these seemingly meaningless and physically painful acts I go into 'meltdown'. Not a pleasant sight, not to mention shameful.

I am not saying this is Xander's reason; I just want to put a human face, or perspective if you prefer, to some of 'our' seemingly random behaviours. :)

Maddy said...

I think that those may be new products turning up in our household soon!