Tell Me About SPD

Girl covering her ears and shouting.

Photo: iStock

I wrote several posts about childhood apraxia of speech in the weeks leading up to the Oregon Apraxia Walk on October 12,  and I’ve received some great responses from parents of children struggling with this difficult motor-speech disorder. But many “apraxia kids” deal with more than apraxia. Often there are other issues that accompany it. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to talk about some of these other challenges.

Sensory Processing Disorder

We suspect Anna might be dealing with a mild form of this disorder. But she might just be a fidgety child. Some of the tendencies we’ve noticed—putting things in her mouth, speaking loudly, forgetting about personal space, and roughhousing an inappropriate times—may just be normal kid behaviors exaggerated  by her recent change of school. Right now, we’re watching, researching, and seeing if she settles down as she gets used to her new surroundings.

What is it? (from SPD Foundation)

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.

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Tell Me About Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia writing sample.

Handwriting with dysgraphia (Image: Alyssa L. Crouch and Jennifer J. Jakubecy)

I’ve been writing about childhood apraxia of speech a lot on this blog over the last month, and I’ve received some great responses from parents of children struggling with this difficult motor-speech disorder. But many “apraxia kids” deal with more than apraxia. Often there are other issues that accompany it. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to talk about some of these other challenges, starting with one that Anna has struggled with since she entered school …

Dysgraphia

We weren’t sure what to expect when we met Anna’s first grade teacher for our one and only scheduled parent-teacher conference last year. We had heard little  beyond biweekly emails up to that point. Anna brought home regular reading homework, and was one of the best readers in her class, but we had no idea how she was doing in other subjects, particularly handwriting, which she had always struggled with.

Her teacher showed us a variety of schoolwork Anna had completed, commenting on her progress, and then she handed us Anna’s journal.

“This is some of Anna’s writing.”

Page after page of loops, scribbles, and swirls. A cipher without a key. All at once it was four years ago—Anna pleading to be understood, and us unable to understand.

Awaem oobie ees.

Then in speech and now on paper. The scribbles and swirls were the consonants that all sounded alike, the loops were the vowels that flattened into an indistinct “uh.” The lines on the page were like unraveling spools of barbed wire, blocking us from our daughter’s words.

And after four years of struggling to be heard, she had to start all over again. We added occupational therapy to her IEP, and a young girl who’d faced so many obstacles now had one more to overcome.

So much weight on such small shoulders. Like so many kids dealing with one or more of the interconnected aspects of dyspraxia.

As her parents, we had questions. Maybe you are asking yourself the same ones.

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