Explaining SPD to others

Explaining SPD to people that know nothing about it and know nobody with it is a hard thing to do. I was faced with this when my oldest daughter (8) asked me what was wrong with her sister and what SPD was. 'How do I explain this to an eight year old?' I thought to myself. Hmm...well how else to explain it than simply and directly. So this is what I said and did.

I sat her down in front of me and said, "Honey, I'm going to do a bunch of different things and we're going to see how you react to them. Ok?" She agreed and so I touched her arm, talked really loud, blew in her face and moved around.

"Honey, see you can hear, see, feel and smell me and your body takes all that information and sends it up to your brain. When all that information gets to your brain it is divided into different files and processed. Your brain can handle it and you do fine with all those different kinds of information at the same time. In your sister's case her body sends all the information up to her brain and it doesn't have enough files for her to process what's going on so she freaks out and has a tantrum. She doesn't understand why and she gets frustrated and that's why she acts the way she does. Does that make sense?".

And much to my surprise she said she understood. She then said, "Mama, are her files just too full?" lol My response was, "Well yes, kind of. Her files just can't hold as much information as yours can. When her files get too full she doesn't know how to react."

Our first day having our Speech Therapist here I asked her why some days were worse than others. She said that she looks at it like a cup; each emotion, sound, touch and so on that she receives and takes in just keeps adding up until the cup is full and then it's meltdown time. So we need to learn how much she can take and when to say when. It is difficult some days because some days she seems to wake up with her "cup" already half full. It could be something small like a noise that woke her up or she rubbed up against something and it irritated her and that could fill her cup up a little. So we really have to watch and learn her warning signs before a tantrum so we know that we need to do something to help empty the cup. Make sense?

How did you explain SPD to your family, friends and especially children? Please share.


Mommy Cracked said...

The cup scenerio is an excellent way to describe it. I'll be using this one to help other people understand our son better. Thanks.