Dear Mr. Rosemond:
I rarely read your columns but the title “Sensory Disorder or Stubborn Kid: You Decide” intrigued me.
But after reviewing your book The Well-Behaved Child and reading this article, it is official. John Rosemond, you and I are not on the same page.
You started out the column by quoting the http://www.spdfoundation.net/ website. Then the column goes on to explain how a mother approached you concerning the recent SPD diagnosis of her 4-year-old daughter. This little girl’s primary symptoms where the itch or scratchiness of clothing. Tantrums occurred every morning as the parents helped her get dress. You told the parents to focus on “what was taking place”, instructed to strip her room and not allow her to leave the room in the morning until her clothes were put on by herself. In two weeks she was “cured.”
Now…I am not going to speculate whether this little girl’s diagnosis of SPD was correct. I am not going to disagree that there was a change in this child.
What I am going to say is that Sensory Processing Disorder is real. I am also going to emphasize again that firm discipline does not solve SPD.
The sensory issues must be dealt with first. Whether this is through Occupational Therapy, as we have used, or another source, the child must learn to deal with the “neurological traffic jam” that occurs. Until this is dealt with, the behavior will continue to spiral downward.
Once the sensory is ordered, then you work on the behavior issues. What is left after the sensory issues is coping skills (behavior issues) that have developed? These have to be dealt with using love, patience, training, along with discipline. This is when you teach the child how to handle the sensory overload in an acceptable manner.
I am sorry to say that you are sadly misinformed. I assume that you have never seen your child “lose it” for hours on end over nothing. You have never watched your son become hysterical because of a loud noise. You have never cried yourself to sleep because “tough love” is not working. You have never charted on the calendar the good, bad, and horrific days that your child experienced. You have never talked to other parents to find out that they didn’t understand because their child was “normal.” You have never read book after book only to finish being more frustrated than before because once again the author didn’t get it. You have never felt like you were slowly losing your child to the unknown.
I will be the first to agree that there are stubborn children in the world who just need tough love. But, there are also children who have trouble reading the basic senses that the rest of us take for granted. Praise God that there are professionals like Occupational Therapist who understand this disorder and have the ability to help these children and to train their parents. Praise God that after two years of OT, we have our son back.