Dealing with Sensory Processing Issues

I’m pretty good at ignoring things; just putting my head down and diving into “all things Autism”.  I’ve read a lot and feel I’m getting closer and closer to helping my kids reach their optimal selves, especially in terms of health, education and overcoming challenges in life.  Our recent trip to Pennsylvania brought me great insight into other areas that need exploring and attending to, specifically the Primitive reflexes that remain in the boys and have not fully integrated properly.  At this point I’m sure there is no “one” person on the planet that has everything fully integrated, and I guess that is what makes us each unique individuals.  For most of us when things don’t integrate properly we cope, adapt and change the way we are doing things to overcome the obstacles that we may face.

I found it interesting to learn that some reflexes not integrated might result in a lack of coordination in one person, bad handwriting in another or the inability to sit, focus and take notes at the same time… sound familiar?  I think we all know someone or even have experienced many of these challenges ourselves.  Neuroplasticity can help in rerouting things and allow us to still “manage” in life and for some, it just might create extra awesome parts of your brain.  Research has shown that challenges, like Dyslexia, force people to develop better memories or other skills.  As a result many Dyslexics become Entrepreneurs, because they don’t always excel in traditional educational environments and their excellent memory helps them remember clients names or mountains or other information.

However when too many of the reflexes are not integrated, motions are much more challenging and often some areas of the brain really struggle to function.  Take my boys for example, Ted has several reflexes that keep his body in a fight or flight state of being, they also affect his auditory processing; listening and understanding what others are saying.  He is smart and over time has used other skills to overcome this in order to “fit in”, but it’s tiring and taxing on his brain and body.  Continuously compensating for his auditory challenges, he relies on visual cues, memories from similar experiences etc.  ALL this extra energy ends up taxing the adrenals which are trying to regulate everything.  That’s why sometimes he loses his cool over nothing and seems to get overwhelmed at the strangest things; well strange to us, but of course makes complete sense to Ted. For example, to Ted bugs are unpredictable, they appear out of nowhere, they need to be identified immediately… harmful or harmless… and on and on goes the message in his brain.

Oskar on the other hand is struggling it seems because his non-integrated primitive reflexes cause “pruning issues”.  I’ve learned that you actual NEED to prune some neural pathways and when you don’t it becomes like a series of detours, constantly rerouting which makes everything you think and do really inefficient.  This is possibly due to a dysfunction in the Autonomic Nervous System which may be caused by Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO. (to learn more read this Blog post by Dr. Patrick Nemechek –

Often when things are coming together (getting better at dealing with sensory issues, increased motor planning) for Oskar it can still mean more frustration, anxiety and huge mood swings… and that’s for me too LOL.  Seriously his mood and screaming outbursts when it all gets too much for him can be 5 or more times a day.  Each outburst resembling a 2yr old’s “tantrum” but in the body of a large 6 year old that is just coming to grips with the world around him.  It is a LOT to deal with and we try to remain calm, and just sit and, verbally, let him know that he is “really mad” or “so very sad”. We try to help him to get it all out, but at the same time help him to recognize exactly what he is feeling.  If it is frustration because he didn’t get his way – we say that.  If he is sad because the noise level and energy of the other kids was just too much – we say that.  But when it’s all on you 24/7 it can be exhausting, especially because we don’t know how the day is going to go.  Oskar has lots of great days and weeks now that he is older, but when changes occur or we remove something from his diet that might be bothering him we get some gains but also some challenging behaviors.  The hardest part is when he is very frustrated, and upset – like LEVEL 10.  There is absolutely no way he is going to be able to communicate what is going on… as he still struggles to communicate on a good day.  Although we do get him saying “happy” when he realizes it himself;… smiling and beaming in his Joyful State of Being…. Ahhhhhhh those are the good times.

Oskar is smart and tries to be his happiest every day.  He tries to connect with us the only way he has learned how; he explores, problem solves and continues to grow in amazing ways.  He is slowly overcoming challenges and growing into this amazing little boy… I just need to remember this every day  especially the “hard” days.

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