Parenting Challenges or Neurological Disorder_Answer

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 at 4:07 am.

Obviously, it is impossible for me to offer an armchair diagnosis of something as unique and individual as your child’s behaviors and reactions to things.  That said, I do think you have a situation with your child worth investigating further.  Some of the traits you are describing are quite common with children (e.g. being a picky eater is typical of many younger children) while other traits seem rather unusual.

Most children do not react strongly to normal noises in their environment or the texture of certain types of fabrics against their skin. They may prefer softer fabrics or cotton fabrics over synthetics but on the whole, these would be preferences rather than strong reactions, and most young children pay almost no attention to such nuances of clothing. Reactions to the texture of certain foods is also suggestive of something unusual going on with your daughter.

Here are a few more questions you might consider in evaluating your daughter’s behavior and reactions:  1) Does she have strong or overwhelming reactions to others forms of sensory stimulation in her environment, such as bright lights, everyday sounds (like vacuum cleaners and leaf blowers), or strong aversion to be touched?  2)  Is she often physically uncoordinated or bumping into things as though she doesn’t quite know where her body is in space?  3)  Is it difficult for her to engage with teachers and peers socially and in conversation?

These traits may be nothing to worry about or they may be indicative of a Sensory Processing Disorder.  This is a lesser known neurological/developmental condition that has some overlap with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), but is not the same as either one of them.  SPD is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information and input that comes in via the senses.

The condition can be diagnosed by a health professional, such as a physical or occupational therapist or a psychologist or psychiatrist who is knowledgeable about these kinds of issues in children.

The condition used to be called “sensory integration dysfunction” and is treatable with a set of methods called Sensory Integration Therapy.  Of course, it is also important to have your daughter evaluated by someone competent in differentiating between behaviors with primarily psychological underpinnings vs. possible neurological, brain-based disorders.

Regardless of the causes or definition of her condition, early identification of these types of problems is important since they can worsen over time or become more pronounced in social and academic settings.  Most important, your daughter will be happier and more comfortable if the sensory problems that cause her so much emotional distress are evaluated and made better with appropriate treatment.

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