Thursday, November 18, 2010

Night Terrors: YIKES!

If you've read previous posts, you know that my Max has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Dysfunction).  Now that his routine is established and he's back in therapy in school, things have mostly gotten better.  Summertime is hard for Max because we're more relaxed and don't really have any kind of schedule.  It took him a few weeks to get back into the routine of school and homework and set bedtimes.  I'm thinking ahead of time and have decided that when summer rolls around again, we need to figure out how we can keep him on some sort of schedule.  

It's only been this school year that we're really understanding how this SPD works and how we can help Max deal with it.  We've tried a couple of things to make up a sensory diet for Max.  This isn't a diet that involves food, this is a diet of different techniques we do with Max to help him calm his senses.  We do brushing before and after school and that seems to be the most beneficial to Max.  I occasionally, although should do it every time, do joint compression after the brushing and we got Max a small indoor trampoline for him to jump on.  In church we use our fingers to tickle his arms and back and it's like magic to get him to calm down and behave. 

We've noticed that Max's behavior and the severity of the SPD on any particular day is almost always directly related to his sleep pattern from the previous night.  The first time Max had a night terror, needless to say, my husband and I were scared!  To see your child in that state is truly terrifying!  I remember at one point before we had the diagnosis of SPD thinking he had some sort of Schizophrenia!  For Max, and I guess is characteristic of night terrors, is that it happens early in the night, usually 1-4 hours after going to bed.  There's no set pattern for him as far as the frequency.  Last night, he got up, came to the kitchen for a drink and by the time he got back to his bedroom he was crying really loudly.  This is the first time our oldest, Zachary, had witnessed one of his episodes.  Zach went to him and asked him what was wrong and I heard Max say "I don't know."  Zach got him back into bed and layed with him until he fell back to sleep.  This was a rather short and mild episode compared to some I remember.  I can remember one time when he cried hysterically and insisted that there were spiders all over his bed.  He cries loudly (without tears), taps his fingers together nervously, looks terrified, has no idea what's going on, doesn't seem to know who we are sometimes and never remembers in the morning.  You can bank on him having a terrible day if he's had a bad night.

Max has always had trouble calming down and going to sleep at night.  I know all the experts say (and some friends and family with sometimes unwanted advice) that the bedroom is only for sleeping and I shouldn't let him read in bed or listen to music but I find that these are the things that may help him.  If the kid has trouble winding down, should I simply tell him to lay in bed for an hour until he falls asleep?  Then he's up and down twelve thousand times with different excuses every time for why he's out of bed!  There are only so many things that work with Max as far as getting him to do what he's told.  I can't simply tell him to stay in bed and have him listen, he just doesn't work that way.  In fact, there are very few things that might work.  The threat of not having computer privileges the following day seems to be the thing of the moment. 

SPD kids are so hard to deal with on a day to day basis but Max's sense of humor and his deep love for his family just amaze me.  These are kids that are definitely misunderstood and looked upon as kids who are simply "bad kids" who just don't want to listen.  As their parents, we're judged as bad parents because we can't "control" our kids.  Our SPD kids have trouble making friends in school and are sometimes looked upon as "one of those kids" by classmates parents.  You know, the kids you say "ugh, I don't want that kid coming to the party" or "that kid cannot come to my house."  It's heartbreaking to have a misunderstood child.  It's heartbreaking to think that people can't look beyond these issues to see the heart that my child has.  That's why, as an SPD parent, I'll do what I can to help him with his sensory diet and to help him figure out how he can deal with it when I'm not there to help him.  My heart goes out to all you families dealing with these issues.  We've got super special precious children.  God chose us to be their parents for a reason.  Love, learn and teach!


  1. My oldest deals with SPD on a daily basis. We do the brushing and joint compression - I brush all the boys because it seems to help. I just line them up and brush them down. We haven't had to deal with night terrors, but I had them as a child. My parents thought I had epilepsy and were very relieved after a ton of tests that it was just night terrors which I grew out of after a year or so.

  2. My oldest son likes to get brushed to; he doesn't have the issues that Max does but he just loves how it feels. Thanks for your comments, it's nice to have other mom's know what I'm dealing with as far as the SPD.

  3. This is something new for me to read about, thank you for introducing the topic. Very interesting!

  4. hello new follower on google,twitter and rss feed for posts.. interesting topic. When you say brushing do you mean the tickling with your fingers? I am a mom to 3 boys and I can vouch for it being really hard to be the only female in the family.... Just very different brains. will def come back for your next post LOL
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  5. Hi Fawn. The brushing is done with what I call a corn brush. It's a small plastic brush with soft plastic bristles. It really seems to help him!

  6. I found you through June Clever's group and am following you! When I saw the name of your blog I just had to! My blog is :)
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