Sensory needs and ADHD?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Sensory needs and ADHD?
3
Mon, 05-11-2009 - 3:09pm

Hi all. I have a 7 year old son who has speech issues, fine and gross motor delays and sensory issues. He gets speech therapy, and OT through the school. His sensory issues include need for firm touch (hugs) and lots of large motor movement, swinging and spinning. The things that the OT taught us, large motor and swinging and spinning, have helped a lot with with his ability to focus and concentrate on a task,...yet, I wonder if more help is needed. We school at home, so I know exactly how long he can and cannot concentrate and we work around it, taking breaks when needed. His attention span is probably about a year or a little more behind his actual age/grade level of 1st grade.

Any one else have a child with sensory issues that cause distraction and need for movement? Did you go completely with what an OT said, or are you doing meds too? Do the meds help with sensory issues, or do they just mask them so that they come out worse when the meds are wearing thin? I want him to feel good about himself and am afraid that as demands of school increase that he will feel that he is not able to do the work. (Of course, as his teacher, I do modify to meet his needs as much as possible.) On the other hand, I have seen him outgrow some things and his ability to focus and concentrate and follow directions has improved as he has gotten older.

Thanks for any input on your experiences.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 05-12-2009 - 1:27pm

I'm not sure I can answer that one. Does my kid have sensory issues--yes. Does he have ADHD, yes--primarily inattentive, though there's some hyperactive that's become more clear as he's aged & the other kids get less hyper. Age 7, he was in the normal range for hyperactivity, for instance. But it's really pretty impossible to say whether it's the ADHD or the sensory component causing things... The sensory piece has diminished with age (as most OTs will say it does).

OK, meds helped my kid more with what I'll call internalizing lack of focus--couldn't keep his head on something, constantly distracted by stories from within his own head, that kind of thing. That's why he originally got medicated. It *also* helps with the need for continual movement. He could--age 7 this is--suddenly sit & eat a whole meal (that first year he actually ate more on the meds than off, because suddenly he could concentrate on eating long enough!).

You haven't said if he's diagnosed ADHD; I'd definitely want a good diagnosis (fair amount of testing) before I medicated a kid with a host of obvious sensory issues. We did that--and it was really obvious to us that it wasn't just the sensory issues causing the effect. There are a LOT of things that mimic ADHD & it's really pretty important to eliminate them before you go with ADHD meds.

BTW--he's had speech therapy, OT for handwriting/fine motor, and before that for motor planning issues (gross & fine). He didn't qualify for gross motor at school more because it wasn't severe enough for him not to be able to function. Definetly ADHD on top of that--my younger kid has had the speech, the OT, even adaptive PE, and there's a pretty clear distinction between them, when it comes to attention. Though it's not an easy distinction--every year we wonder if THIS is the one where the little guy will end up with an ADHD diagnosis--but he's 8, nearly 9 now, so I keep hoping not!

Megan
Megan
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Tue, 05-12-2009 - 10:29pm

Thanks! No, he has not been diagnosed, just me, and sometimes the speech therapist will say something. It does sound like sensory and ADHD can go hand in hand at times, which was definitely part of what I was wondering.

I am glad that the medication has helped your son - meds get a lot of bad press but I am glad to hear success stories! What you have to say about your son and dinner, makes me feel that my son is not so bad on the scale of things. He does do stories and stuff in his head too, but we are also working on that ("finish writing the word, then ask the question!") Sometimes it does seem like "oh, if you had told me that before, I wouldn't have done X" as though he doesn't know what is expected of him and when I explain (simple things his older sister and younger brother get) then it goes better. Individuality - I sure can't take things for granted!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-10-2006
Wed, 05-13-2009 - 4:55pm

Hi!


My son Nick is dx'd Asperger's, secondary ADHD with sensory issues and anxiety so I can relate to where you are coming from.

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Christine