Red Flags

photo027Sensory Processing Disorder Red Flags…

Parents are the adults in the best position to know when their child has a sensory problem but, too often, their observations are discounted because they are “just the parents.” If the family’s health care provider isn’t familiar with SPD, the clues that triggered the parents’ alarm may be overlooked, misinterpreted, or dismissed. The parents may be scolded for over-reacting or they may be offered assurances that their child is “just a little delayed” or “going through a phase” or “showing his personality.” The child may be misdiagnosed and even treated for another disorder that is already familiar to the doctor rather than for the real culprit: Sensory Processing Disorder. By the time I meet families through the SPD Foundation, at the STAR Center in Denver, or in one of the workshops I teach, the parents are often near despair because they have tried and failed to convince somebody that red flag symptoms exist and are disrupting their child’s life in basic ways. . . . (They) know something isn’t right but they are intimidated, frustrated, or downright discouraged because nobody believes them.

– from Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR

Ten Fundamental Facts About SPD

Sensory Processing Disorder is a complex disorder of the brain that affects developing children and adults.

Parent surveys, clinical assessments, and laboratory protocols exist to identify children with SPD.

At least one in twenty people in the general population may be affected by SPD.

In children who are gifted and those with ADHD, Autism, and fragile X syndrome, the prevalence of SPD is much higher than in the general population.

Studies have found a significant difference between the physiology of children with SPD and children who are typically developing.

Studies have found a significant difference between the physiology of children with SPD and children with ADHD.

Sensory Processing Disorder has unique sensory symptoms that are not explained by other known disorders.

Heredity may be one cause of the disorder.

Laboratory studies suggest that the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are not functioning typically in children with SPD.

Preliminary research data support decades of anecdotal evidence that occupational therapy is an effective intervention for treating the symptoms of SPD.

– from Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD ) p. 249-250 by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR

Autism Red Flags

No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter

No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months

No babbling by 12 months

No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months

No words by 16 months

No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months

Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

Preoccupation with the function of toys or a particular toy

The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) can help you determine if a professional should evaluate your child. This simple online autism screen. If the answers suggest your child is at risk for autism, please consult with your child’s doctor or schedule a developmental screening with Children’s Therapy Connections. Likewise, if you have any other concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait. Speak to your doctor now about screening your child for autism.

Developmental Red Flags

As a parent or caregiver, if you see any of these behaviors in a child we encourage you to talk with the child’s pediatrician or schedule an appointment for a basic developmental screening at Children’s Therapy Connections.

6 weeks:          Difficulty organizing suck, swallow, breath (difficulty feeding)

2 months:        Not obtaining visual focus – not interacting with caregiver faces

4 months:        Not bring hands to midline, not reaching for toys

6 months:        Not initiating some type of rolling movement

Not grasping and holding toys

8 months:        Not sitting alone

9 months:        Not crawling on belly or hands and knees

10-12 months: Not using pincher grasp (finger and thumb) for self-feeding

12 months:      Does not babble, coo or gesture

Not walking behind push toy or pulling to stand

16 months:       Not taking steps independently

Does not say single words

24 months:      Does not say two word phrases

2-4 years:         Observed to be a “clumsy kid” (tripping over feet)

Any Age: Hesitant to interact with others or the environment, appears to be overly sensitive, described as a “fussy baby”

Overly passive baby, not exploring the environment, “wall flower”

Perpetual movement, no sit-down time, no balance between movement and rest.

Delays in development affecting multiple areas

Consistent walking on tip-toes for an extended period of time

Has any loss of any language or social skills

Child does not know how to play with toys

Child has poor eye contact

Child seems to prefer to play alone.

Avoids using both sides of his/her body or exhibits a strong one side preference.

Tummy Time

There’s two sides to every baby. Help them discover this one.

Back to Sleep. Tummy to Play.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends putting babies to sleep on their backs during sleep to reduce the chances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  However, tummy time, while the baby is awake, is equally important to their development. When a baby spends too much time on his back, he may develop a flat head, a preference to turn his head to only one side, muscle tightness, or weakened arm and neck muscles.

Promote your child’s development.

Tummy time is important because it promotes particular movements that support healthy body and brain development, including: muscle and bone strength, vision, hearing, touch, digestion and the child’s ability to progress from lying, to sitting, to crawling and then walking.

When to begin?

Start slow. A few minutes a day, several times a day is a great start. Use diaper changes as a way to schedule tummy time into your routine. At first, include a towel roll under his arms and  chest to help support him.

Keep them interested.

As you recline on the sofa or floor, enjoy face to face time and talk with your baby as he lays with his tummy on your chest.  When baby is on his tummy on the floor, use engaging toys such as rattles, colorful floor mats, musical toys, or a reflective toy to look at himself.

Developmental Concerns?

At any time after your child is born, if you have concerns about developmental milestones ask your doctor for a referral to Children’s Therapy Services.