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  • Writer's pictureChristine McCarty

Sensory Issues...

Recently, I have been receiving a lot of questions about sensory issues, and how we manage through them. To address these questions, let’s first define what we mean by sensory issues Second, I will address some of Addy’s issues and how we manage them.

What do we mean by sensory issues?

According to Child Mind Institute, “Sensory issues are problems related to processing information from the senses, like sight and sound. Kids with sensory issues often get overwhelmed by things like light and noise and might act out or throw tantrums as a result.”

(Full article link found here.)

Those that experience these issues are often referred to as having sensory processing disorder (SPD); however, SPD is not currently a recognized disorder. Why? That’s a separate blog post altogether! For now, let’s refer to it as SPD.

SPD is often recognized during the toddler years, when parents notice that their child has an unusual aversion to noise, light, or clothing. They may also notice clumsiness and trouble climbing stairs, as well as difficulty with fine motor skills like buttoning and/or zippering. More extreme behaviors may include: screaming if their faces get wet, throwing tantrums when you try to get them dressed or do their hair, having an unusually high or low pain threshold, crashing into walls, floors and even people, as well as putting inedible things into their mouths.

For Addy, she has some of the more extreme behaviors/issues. Over the years, Addy and her team have managed to find solutions to some of her behaviors, but it was a long road to get to where we are today. Below, I have outlined some of the issues Addy faced and how (we have) and are working through them!

  1. Throwing tantrums when getting dressed and/or brushing/doing her hair:

    1. First, I am happy to report that the tantrums have mostly disappeared during these activities. Yes, you read that correctly, disappeared. Getting her dressed or doing her hair was almost impossible. I could not for the life of me understand the behavior outbursts. I still don’t know for sure, but my gut tells me because so many things are outside her control, the one thing she wanted control over was her body. After years of trying new clothes and brushes, two things worked. One, I had her help pick out her own clothes. This made her feel a sense of control and ownership. As for brushing her hair, the one brush that made a difference is a brush called Tangle Teezer and can be found here. With a little water and detangler, I can brush her hair without a meltdown.

  2. Crashing her body onto the floor

    1. Addy would do this nonstop as a toddler and even as she got older. Why would she do this? She was seeking input. I am happy to report that this too has stopped! Now, she just asks for hugs/squeezes which I am more than happy to give her! So, how did we get here? Well, this was a bit more involved as it took years of occupational therapy to get her to understand what her body needed and how to regulate it on her own. In addition, we dress her in compression pants and a Spio vest (link here) that she wears daily. Lastly, we give her fidgets and sensory breaks, so her mind/body gets what it needs.

  3. Putting everything into her mouth

    1. When I say everything, I mean everything from scissors to toys, to her own fingers, everything went to her mouth for oral input. This is an issue we still struggle with and its even scarier with all these illnesses circulating. With guidance from the team, we recently bought chewy necklaces and bracelets. I must admit I was against this at first, but it has cut down on what I like to call mouthing tremendously (which resulted in lots of drooling)! I like these chewy necklaces and bracelets (link here) as I can put them in the dishwasher, and she can’t break through them which is extremely important for safety reasons.

As I look back, I think it’s extremely important for us parents/caregivers to recognize these behaviors as cries for help. Our kids are trying to tell us something in their own way and it’s our job to figure out what they’re asking for and how to remedy. It’s not easy, but when you figure it out (and you will) it’s one of the most gratify feelings in the world. As always, please consult your doctor and/or therapist before trying any solution for your child’s SPD.

Much love,

Raising Addy

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