Sensory Issues, ADD and Other Possible Things??? Help!!!

Updated on March 31, 2010
C.G. asks from Burnt Hills, NY
15 answers

I actually have a question about both of my kids who seem to have a couple of issues lately. My daughter Alyssa is 7 1/2 and son Colden is 5 years old. Alyssa has been having some real trouble in school with paying attention, fidgiting etc. When I had my call with her teacher today she said that Alyssa had been rubbing the back of her hands on the carpet and had done it so much that they were both raw and bleeding on the back. She suggested that this may be some sign of sensory or some other issues either in addition to or rather than the ADD. She's very inconsistant with work, sometimes she gets it and is smart as can be and another day doing the exact same work she would get everything wrong and wouldn't have a clue... it's very strange and I can't seem to figure out what's wrong.

With Colden he is sitll young but his teacher has expressed concerns with his behavior and such already. He seems to be following in Alyssa's footsteps as far as being fidgity and needing to play with things in school. In the past 2 weeks or so he has had some major issues with chewing on his clothes which is when his teacher brought up the sensory issues with him as well. It seems like they both have something going on and I really want to figure it out so I can help them. I don't know if it's something hereditary or environmental or something I did/am doing..... I really don't know what I should be doing for them or how to figure out what the problem is. If anyone has any thoughts on what could possibly going on I would be more than grateful ! Thanks!!

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answers from New York on

try diet changes eliminating sugar and some dairy. See if she has allergies often allergies that are undetected present as behavioral problems such as ADD or hyperactivity. Might try a homeopathic practitioner too - I did all with success for my little guy and saw improvement.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

Sorry this is so long...
Don't panic! That's my first advice.

I have a son with severe ADHD. His kindergarten teacher first noticed some things so she gave him a baby brush to rub his skin (sensory) which helped him focus and the brush was so soft it didn't hurt him. I would bet your daughter was rubbing her arms because it allowed her to focus or she had some anxiety. So get her a nice soft brush or cloth or something to have in her desk and she can use it to focus or if she's anxious.

Next, make sure you have a very good behavior system in place at home for both kids. That way you can discern if the behavior is about testing limits.

Then, I would limit caffeine, sugar, treats etc. Some parents will pull all kinds of stuff assuming allergies (which can cause similar behaviors to ADD/ADHD).

While you're doing all this at home, set up an appointment with both teachers and special ed or principal so you can start a full battery of tests. It will take a month easy and another month for the report so you want to get started on this right away, so your game plan is in place for next year.

Contact your pediatrician and set up appointments and start with the check list for ADD/ADHD. You will fill it out, teachers and others that are close to your children or spend a lot of time with them. This check list allows the pediatrician to see if the behaviors are isolated to certain situations. I was told that if the behaviors were not pervasive, then it was unlikely to be ADD/ADHD. This is what you need to start.

Also, it is important to know that ADD/ADHD diagnosis can not be given by anyone other than a pediatrician. Teachers cannot make the diagnosis, but they may see some of the signs. Should it come down to your child/children having an ADD/ADHD diagnosis, you have many different options for treatment including dietary supplements, food restriction, therapy, counseling, behavior modification, as well as medication. My son is on medication, because the changes were not dramatic enough to help my son when using alternative treatments. It took me two years to come to that point.

As for the sensory issues, I would consider booking an appointment with an Occupational Therapist that specializes in sensory disorders. She/He will help you better understand your children. My son is a sensory seeker in everything. There are sensory avoiders and mixed. I know very little about this other than what I was told about my son. What I did find was that the medical community was not particularly open to a diagnosis of sensory disorder. So that usually means issues with insurance paying for treatment. My son, now 11, just stopped chewing on his clothes about a year ago, but for the life of me I can't get him to stop chewing his nails and cuticles. Before either of those behaviors he would suck his thumb. It was/is a behavior that allows him to focus on what he's supposed to: school, baseball, church, etc.
Good luck, C.. Blessings,

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Yes these strike me as sensory issues. Check out the website above - the checklist is extremely basic but the behaviors you exhibited are common for sensory integration problems.

You could also contact an occupational therapist or a bavioral pediatrician in your area for an evaluation. We've been through this with both of our boys. Our youngest has bigger issues so he sees an OT every week. For older child, the OT gave us good exercises and strategies for him to cope in a classroom environment.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Hey there, my 4 year old was diagnosed with ADHD and some possible sensory issues just a few months ago. It can be really hard to tell the two apart as the symptoms (mainly hyperactivity and not being able to focus) are the same. But the causes are completely different. And then of course, sometimes you have kids with both. The first thing you should do would be to get find an in-network child psychiatrist and psychologist to evaluate them. They will probably also suggest you see an Occupational Therapist as well for a sensory evaluation. If they do indeed find that your children have ADHD/sensory stuff then you can them get them evaluated by the school district to see if they are eligible for special help in school. My daughter is extremely smart so it was hard for me to find out that she actually may need "special ed" in school. But now I am trying to think of it as extra help and more one on one time with teachers rather than the "special ed" I remember from being in grade school.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. We are still in the early stages of learning about this and getting her the help she needs so it is my life!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi C.,
I don't know much about sensory integration disorder, but I would like to say that ADD can cause inconsistancy with school work. ADD can be affected by the previous nights sleep, hunger, emotions and other distractions. In other words, People with ADD can have good days and some bad days. If I were you I would see a pediatric psycologist or other specialist that specializes in developmental issues. I am sure it is not anything that you are doing. Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Hi C.,
From what I have seen, true sensory integration / processing issues start at *birth.* (apart and separate from autism). Plenty of "normal" children can show sensory-seeking or sensory-avoiding (or both) issues very early on but do not {NOT} appear out of nowhere at age 5 or 7.

If these behaviors are new, or appear temporary, you are more likely dealing with something else.



answers from Chicago on

Don't be too hard on yourself. See a specialist that deals with ADD, OCD,
and sensory issues. There is a specialist named Daniel Amen. He has clinics around the country. Get on the web and look him up. I took my son to a specialist that was trained by Dr. Amen. It took some time, but with the right help and medication (if necessary), things can go well. You are the best advocate for your children. It is ok to grieve the fact that there is something different about your children. Don't let yourself get caught up in all the info that is available. Find other parents in your area to set up a support group or find one that already exists. It is a blessing you have Found this out about your children at a young age. I will pray for you.



answers from San Diego on

Sandy's advice was excellent :) :) :), (removing the common causes for things the MIMIC adhd -allergies, etc- ... except I think she typo'ed something... a pediatrician is NOT the only (nor the best) place for an adhd diagnosis.

The other 2 are psychologists & psychiatrists, aka medical professionals who specialize in neurology... and adhd in particular. (When you're dealing with the heart you see a cardiologist, when you're dealing with the brain it's best to deal with a specialist as well). The actual testing process for adhd runs several hours, and includes several weeks of prep (medical testing to rule out allergies/ toxins/ hormonal problems/ etc). After those weeks of prep... the testing process (like I said) takes hours... and can be invaluable.

A "quick-test" though is fairly easy and all you need is a can of coke or a cup of coffee (well milked, like a latte or a mocha). After they drink it do they settle down and focus or start bouncing off the ever-lovin' walls? (Warning: Too much Caffiene -or any stimulant- makes us adhd'ers sleepy... so in kids if they have too much they tend to go straight into being "over-tired", which usually means cranky... so if you're doing the "quick-test" start off slow.)

2 great adhd resources:
You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?!? by Kate Kelly & Peggy Ramundo

(adhd-c mum to an adhd-c kiddo)



answers from Kansas City on

I would recommend the book 'The Out of Sync Child' . Then there is a book called 'The Out of Sync Child at play' that will give you exercises and activities for your child.

That in combination with the Occupational Therpaist to help you sort through it might help you avoid medication for ADHD (not that it's bad, but it is always nice to avoid medication if we can).

Sensory issues raising their head at 7 though seems strange, I always thought it was much younger. For your son it makes sense because some kids can deal with the sensory issues until they are in a stressful situation. If your son has always been home with you until kindergarten then he proably has some coping methods that are no longer available for him, or the bombardment at school for the amount of time is overloading him. But for your daughter I would worry about a new source of stress, so the psychologist review would probably be beneficial.



answers from Binghamton on

Take them to a therapist and have them tested. That is the best way to find out what is going on. We have a daughter with ADD and dyscalculia and she has some similar issues. We did not have her tested until she was 9 and I really regret it because she must have felt she was "different" for a while and now has lower self-esteem. Do not make the same mistake. A good therapist can help you figure out what is happening and what to do about it.


answers from New York on

I agree with Sandy 100%. I couldn't have said it any better. You need to have them both tested to find out the root of the problem and in the meanwhile do what she has advised you to do. You need to look out for them and give provide them the help they need.
I'll keep you all in my prayers. Blessings.



answers from Boca Raton on

I loved the following book: "Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies: The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A Disorders" by Kenneth Bock, MD and Cameron Stauth.

Good luck to you guys.



answers from New York on

Sounds like ADHD but I'm not a doctor. Have your children assessed at a Child Development Center for neurodevelopment. Your doctor can give you a referral and its usually covered by insurance. I didn't when the doctor told me to thinking they will grow out of it--not true. The children know something is different about them too. Good luck to you!



answers from New York on

Good job taking it seriously. First look at home life. Has anything been really stressful - divorce, dad in Iraq, fighting, death of close grandma? Secondly, look at food - sugar, frozen foods, food coloring; try cutting those out for a few weeks and see how behavior modifies. Tv/movie/gaming/computer time - how much each day? Cut it down to an hour or less and see how behavior modifies in a few weeks. Are they getting enough running around active time outside - an hour or more a day?

After all these things have been assessed for a month, then definitely ask for them to be evaluated. The school district will send someone to observe and test them to determine if they have issues that need outside help. If this is the case, definitely sit in on their therapies. Say each time, "Please show me how to do that. What are two things I can do at home on a regular basis to help them?" Sadly, therapists are not used to parental involvement so they might not respond the first few times - just keep asking! You are the expert on your children - no expert cares as much or knows your children better. But they will hopefully have some things to help you help them.



answers from Albany on

I'm so glad I read your question, as this is what I teach around the country to teachers, Occupational Therapists, parents, and others. Yes, your children are showing sensory integration issues, but the cause of the issues is retained primitive reflexes - related to stages in early development. The specific reflex you described, Spinal Galant, has symptoms that include figeting, attention problems, , and sensory integration issues. Other symptoms are memory problems, bedwetting, a ticklish back, and close vision issues causing reading problems. A child doesn't have to show all symptoms, only a few, to show a retained primitive reflex.

If you only work on the sensory issues, it may take a very long time to overcome them, if at all. To overcome the primitive reflex, it takes just a month of daily simple exercises, about 10 minutes or less. To get more information aobut this, Google on primitive reflexes. It is getting more popular because people are seeing the results. The best is to find a local occupational therapist who knows the primitive reflexes and will work with you. If you get stuck and want to learn more or pick up an inexpensive DVD with the exercises on it, please feel free to explore my web site, The DVD you would want is Snow Angel, Module 3.

Best of luck! I've been in your shoes, but now after finding answers for my kids, I share all I know with others.


K. Johnson, MS Ed

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