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I knew very early on that Hein-Chris was different from other babies, and he was diagnosed with severe SPD (sensory defensiveness) shortly after his second birthday. I can tell you now - almost four years on - that raising a child with SPD is probably as challenging as raising a child with...

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Raising a child who battles Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Visit our blog:Raising Hein-Chris

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  • I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that Hein-Chris needed to go to school.

  • To my mind, the longer I waited, the more difficult it would get. I remain certain that by the time he was three, introducing him to the schooling system would have been too late.
  •  
  • His mind would have been closed to a change of that magnitude. The transition would have been twice as horrendous.

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Raising a child who battles SPD

Raising Hein-Chris

#MHLISTEDBUSINESS

  • Write social stories to help curb anxiety.
  •  
  • What is a social story? 

  • It is a short, five to ten-page story introducing a new event/experience/situation to your child.

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Raising a child with SPD

A Tale of Three Steps

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  • Drop-off at school this morning was unequivocally disastrous. I came home, crawled into bed, and bawled my eyes out. 

  • Why does everything, literally everything, have to be a major issue with Hein-Chris. 

  • Can’t he relent for one single day? Just one day where I might be spared the emotional torment of dealing with SPD. Just one.

  • After six gruelling years, is that too much to ask?Read more

  • Visit us at www.raisingheinchris.com

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Raising a child with SPD

The million joys of kiddies' parties

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  • It is safe to say that Hein-Chris is not a natural party-goer by any stretch of the imagination. 

  • The sensory overload that is typical of kiddies’ birthday parties is way too much for my darling boy, and I can spot the tell-tale signs of a subsequent total sensory malfunction a mile away, barreling down on me like the steam train to Tsitsikamma.

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  • Visit us at www.raisingheinchris.com

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Raising a child with Sensory Processing Disorder

Blog: Raising Hein-Chris

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  • Tip of the week:

  • Do not judge mommies.

  • There’s a clever little anecdote of a man and his wife on their way to his best buddy’s wedding. They are running very late, but - as fate would have it - as they take the turn onto the dirt road leading to the chapel, they find themselves stuck behind another car going no more than 10 km/h (6 mph). Pretty soon the man’s frustration with the old couple driving the car turns to rage as he starts swearing at them, flashing his lights and honking the horn. As they eventually reach the chapel, the man is surprised to see the old folk turning towards it too. As it turns out, they were transporting the wedding cake on their back seat.

  • The moral of the story is not to judge others, for you have no clue. Whenever I feel judgement welling up inside me towards another mommy, I quickly remind myself that she’s probably got a cake in the car.   

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Raising a child who has sensory processing disorder (SPD)

Raising Hein-Chris

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  • Hein-Chris and I are honoured that you might choose to visit our blog. 

  • Hein-Chris has been attending educational kinesiology sessions for approximately eighteen months. 

  • He started as a result of my concerns regarding his severely low emotional and social intelligence which impacted his ability to self-regulate and had a detrimental effect on his self-esteem.Read more.

  • Join us at www.raisingheinchris.com.

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Raising a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Raising Hein-Chris

#MHLISTEDBUSINESS

  • Hein-Chris and I are honoured that you would choose to visit our blog. We don't know the challenges you face and we certainly don't know how long you'll be visiting us, but if you've only popped in for a brief look-see, we humbly offer the following: The biggest gift you can possibly bestow on your child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is correct posture, a healthy self-esteem, plenty of sound sleep, and adequate daily water intake.

  • Visit us at www.raisingheinchris.com

  • Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/raisingheinchris/

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  • L H Matticks
  • SPD is a debilitating disorder. For a child with SPD, all (or most) inputs received are perceived as a threat by default and represent immediate and imminent danger. The infant/child with SPD is in an almost constant state of heightened anxiety.

Raising a child with SPD

Hein-Chris visits the kinesiologist

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  • And thus shall be the title of the children’s book I might write one day, in the form of a social story. It will help prepare kids for their first visit to the kinesiologist and be filled with lovely illustrations (by an illustrator with a flair for colour) and an easy-to-read font. It’s fun going to the kinesiologist, right? Right. Read more
  • Visit us at www.raisingheinchris.com
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Raising a child with SPD

Not to mention eating

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  • I never intended to blog about eating insofar as it pertains to infants/children with SPD. 
  • From all the information I have been able to glean over the last six odd years, there does not appear to exist a one-size-fits-all when it comes to getting those darling sprouts eating. 
  • But I realized that I had to broach the issue of eating even if just to confirm that it is an intolerable ordeal for any parent. 
  • Read more in my latest blog post entitled "Not to mention eating"
  • Visit us at www.raisingheinchris.com or follow us at https://www.facebook.com/raisingheinchris/ 

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Raising a child with SPD

All my hugs, all my kisses

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  • Physical touch is extremely uncomfortable for the child with SPD as the brain registers it as imminent and immediate danger. 
  • The neurotypical child will find comfort and solace in being stroked, kissed and hugged; the child with SPD will find it intolerable. 
  • Find out more at https://www.raisingheinchris.com/…/all-my-hugs-all-my-kisses

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My journey raising a little boy with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

All Creatures Great and Small

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  • Exposure to animals has been hugely beneficial to Hein-Chris. 
  • While I could not touch or hug my son until he was about four years old, he allowed our Shih Tzu, Flynne - who took a maternal liking to him from Day One - to snuggle up to him and love him like I wished I could. 
  • Read more at https://www.raisingheinchris.com/blog/all-creatures-great-and-small

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My child has SPD: Managing his/her anxiety - continued

Managing Anxiety - Continued

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  • I add to the last post as I share the ways I have learnt to manage Hein-Chris’ anxiety levels. We employ an array of stress reducers, and happily share those that Hein-Chris responds to best.  

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My child has SPD: Managing his/her anxiety

Raising Hein-Chris Blog

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  • Hein-Chris, as a new-born, had a single response to anything and everything, and that was screaming (violent crying leading to shortness of breath, and sometimes vomiting).
  • After Hein-Chris was diagnosed with SPD around his second birthday, I finally understood why the first two years had been so incredibly traumatic. My darling son was in a state of constant fear. He was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted - and only two.
  • I read mountains of books spelling out the details and treatment of SPD (scary stuff); I trawled the Internet for advice; I listened intently when Hein-Chris’ paediatrician, neurodevelopmental paediatrician and occupational therapist spoke; and I watched my child closely. It turned out he’d be my quintessential teacher when it came to learning how to manage his anxieties. 
  • Below I relay a few of the anxiety reducers Hein-Chris best responded to as I endeavoured to keep his fears at bay.
    • Occupational Therapy: Your most important ally - as far as anxiety reduction goes - is your child’s Occupational Therapist (OT), who must be well-trained and particularly experienced in Sensory Integration (SI). Occupational Therapy is hands down the most effective treatment for SPD - especially if your infant/child is diagnosed at an early age. It took many months for Hein-Chris’ OT to gain his trust and get him to respond to her instructions. I was close to calling it quits many times. But Hein-Chris’ neurodevelopmental paediatrician was (frustratingly) adamant that Hein-Chris was not to miss a single Occupational Therapy session. And it has paid off. Hein-Chris has journeyed a world away from his infant self, and I am convinced that Occupational Therapy played the most important role in his transformation. In South Africa, the typical cost of an Occupational Therapy session is roughly ZAR550 (about US$39) per 45-minute session. Our medical aid covered half of these costs. Hein-Chris has been attending sessions since the age of two and will continue doing so until age seven or eight; this according to our neurodevelopmental paediatrician.  
    • Brushing: Speak to your OT about brushing your child. While brushing is indicated for the treatment of tactile defensiveness, I found that brushing is incredibly effective at treating SPD overall. I prefer the Willbarger Therapressure Brush available in South Africa at https://sensorystuff.co.za/therapy-corner/brushes for ZAR120, or at www.amazon.com for roughly US$11 for a bag of 2. Hein-Chris’ OT showed me precisely how the brush was to be used. You always start by asking the child’s permission to brush him/her. At first, Hein-Chris could tolerate only a single brush stroke, per arm, three times per day. He behaved as though I was brushing him with a hot iron. I persevered many weeks, many months. Today Hein-Chris allows me to brush his arms, legs, and back for fairly long periods of time. I use this to our advantage by brushing him before and/or after kiddies’ birthday parties, and other similarly stressful outings; and whenever he is particularly anxious i.e., he starts a new school, his dad goes away for work, he hurts himself.
    • Baby bottles: Sucking a dummy or baby bottle is extremely relaxing to the infant/child with SPD. While I weaned Hein-Chris off his dummy at age three (due to the affect it may have on his teeth and speech), I still offer him a baby bottle (usually filled with fresh milk or water; definitely no juice) when he becomes particularly anxious (and he is six now). It calms him right down - almost instantaneously. Were it not for this blog, this is a secret I would have taken to the grave. I can literally feel other mommies judging me. But if you were here, saw Hein-Chris in a blind panic, and experienced the instant relief from a baby bottle, you’d be right in my court.
    • Weighted blankets: These are another great tool for relieving the stresses of the day, The blankets offer deep, relaxing pressure. When Hein-Chris was smaller, I used to wait until he was asleep before putting the blanket over his legs, and - later - over his whole body (not his head). He could not tolerate the blanket while he was awake, but introducing it in his sleep, worked for us, and today Hein-Chris enjoys covering himself with the very same weighted blanket at bedtime. In fact, when he arrives home after a trying day at school or a stressful outing, there is no better combination then a baby bottle of fresh milk and the weighted blanket over his legs. I ordered Hein-Chris’ weighted blanket fromwww.weightedblankets.co.za for around ZAR1125 (roughly US$80), three years ago, and it was money well spent. 
  • In next week’s blog post, I will unpack a few more of Hein-Chris’ preferred anxiety reducers i.e., daily routines, social stories, swimming, Eddie the Teddy, etc. Visit www.rainsingheinchris.comRaising Hein-Chris Blog

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The Blog

Raising Hein-Chris

#MHLISTEDBUSINESS

  • I knew very early on that Hein-Chris was different from other babies, and he was diagnosed with severe SPD (sensory defensiveness) shortly after his second birthday. 
  • I can tell you now - almost four years on - that raising a child with SPD is probably as challenging as raising a child with autism. SPD is a debilitating disorder that renders your precious child unable to cope with the world, and wreaks havoc on a family. 
  • This blog is a culmination of all the experience I have gained since starting my lonely journey along this path, and I am keen to share my insights with other parents (or primary caregivers for that matter). If what I have learnt along the way can help only one other desperate parent out there, this blog has been worth my while. 
  • I know how you feel. I know you are exhausted. There is no end in sight. You are at your whits' end. My hope is that my blog might be of some use to you as you travel your own unique journey with SPD.
  • What is SPD? Read https://www.raisingheinchris.com/sensory-processing-disorder.html
  • Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/raisingheinchris/

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Good Self-esteem

See bottom of web page for Tip of the Week

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  • Another of the biggest gifts you can offer your child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a good self-esteem. However, the child with SPD is typically prone to weak self-esteem due to his/her unique physiological and neurological design. 
  • There literally might be absolutely no reason for your child to feel like anything other than a superstar. However, as stated above, a weak self-esteem is the result of forces from within your child’s own body.
  • Remember that the child with SPD is in an almost constant state of heightened anxiety causing - among others - increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol. It is these stress hormones that are most likely directly complicit in leaving your child with SPD feeling “down". Excess levels of these hormones - over a prolonged period - will almost certainly leave your child with SPD in a state of depression. Weak self-esteem is usually unavoidable over the medium to long term. 
  • Make sure to find your child the correct treatment in collaboration with your trusted paediatrician. SPD cannot be cured, but your child can (and must) be taught to cope with it appropriately. If he/she is not treated and taught, a life-long battle with anxiety disorder, depression and weak self-esteem is almost inevitable.
  • Visit our blog at www.raisingheinchris.com for more information about raising a child with Sensory Processing Disorder. Alternatively send us your comments and questions to info@raisingheinchris.com.

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Children's Book for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

See all tips

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  • Max Lucado’s book, “I’m not a Scaredy Cat”, appears to be written specifically for children with SPD (although the author makes no mention of this in the foreword). 
  • The sentences are short and to the point, and all in rhyme. The illustrations are lovely. It is an easy read, and Hein-Chris sits transfixed with wonder when I read it to him and his brothers. 
  • I would suggest you read it at least 3 to 4 times per week. It offers a healthy way of dealing with the anxiety associated with SPD in the form of a short prayer. 
  • I include the prayer so you might gauge if it is in line with your specific religious affiliation: "God, you are good. God, you are near. God, you are here! And, God, you love me."  
  • Please visit us at www.raisingheinchris.com or send us an email at info@raisingheinchris.com

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The Child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Good Posture

See tip about good posture

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  • One of the biggest gifts you can offer your child with SPD is good posture. 
  • The child with SPD typically has low muscle tone and a weak core - both of which are precursors to bad posture later on in life. Work closely with your OT to address these, and follow the home programme your OT recommends. 
  • Left untreated, your child with SPD will most likely grow up slouching when he/she walks, stands or sits, and this seriously impacts most functions of the body. 
  • An upright posture boosts the self-esteem, aids healthy digestion and breathing, avoids back and neck stiffness, helps with concentration, contributes towards the alleviation of stress, is crucial when learning to write (and actually will contribute towards neater handwriting), and the list goes on ad infinitum.
  • Visit our website at www.raisingheinchris.com for more tips on raising a child with sensory processing disorder, or send us an email to info@raisingheinchris.com if you have any questions or comments.

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What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Raising Hein-Chris

#MHLISTEDBUSINESS

  • Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is the brain’s inability to make sense of the input it is receiving from the outside world (and sometimes even from inside the rest of the body). These inputs are received via the body's five sense (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell) as well as its vestibular system (movement), and the body’s position given different movements.
  • For a child with SPD, all (or most) inputs received are perceived as a threat by default. Sights, sounds, movements, smells, touches, etc. all represent immediate and imminent danger. The infant/child with SPD is in an almost constant state of heightened anxiety (heightened blood pressure, pulse rate and increased levels of adrenalin). The brain is telling the body to panic.
  • Hein-Chris, as a newborn, had a single response given his limited range of reaction, and that was screaming (violent crying leading to shortness of breath, and sometimes vomiting). As an infant with SPD grows, his/her response to the anxiety and panic will take other (endless) forms like covering ears, hiding, lashing out violently, running away, hitting, spitting, vomiting, crying uncontrollably, kicking, and the list goes on.
  • Always remember that your infant/child with SPD is intensely anxious (likely for no apparent reason) and unable to settle without your immediate calming input.
  • Imagine living in constant fear with your heart pounding in your chest. Your infant/child with SPD lives in this state constantly, and needs immediate intervention to help him/her settle.
  • SPD cannot be cured, but your child can (and must) be taught to cope with it appropriately. If he/she is not treated and taught, a life-long battle with anxiety disorder and depression is almost inevitable. 

Please visit our blog at www.raisingheinchris.com, or drop us a line at info@raisingheinchris.com. We welcome your comments and questions.

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Umhlali Beach, Dolphin Coast, KZN
066 319 7642
lhmatticks@raisingheinchris.com
www.raisingheinchris.com/