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Success with sensory diet for child with aggressive behaviour?

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#1 alwayshappy

Posted 30 July 2013 - 11:55 AM

Our journey to find out why our son behaves aggressively has taken some time and we still don't have any definitive answers to date.  He is six years old and has shown aggressive behaviour from about 18 months of age. It prevents him from making friends, from integration into a class room, reduces his self esteem.... and challenges his parents in ways we could never have believed.

We've ruled out ASD and ADHD but are still searching for answers.  Initially I headed down the mental health trail, which we are still travelling somewhat. The paediatrician floated Oppositional Defiance Disorder and suggested a clinical psychologist.  Finding a good one with availability has been challenging and we haven't quite got there yet.

Another option we're persuing that seems to make sense, is some sort of sensory processing challenge.  With that in mind, we are just starting to explore sessions with an occupational therapist with experience in this area.

I'm interested to hear from any other parents who have a child with behavioural challenges that have been strongly linked to sensory processing challenges. It appears, from what I've read, that there is limited research which provides a really strong argument for the success of this kind of intervention for children like mine.  I'm hoping to find people who have had success with behaviour as a result of implmentation of a relevant sensory diet.

Does anyone have any stories to share?

#2 mokeydoke

Posted 30 July 2013 - 12:44 PM

I think I have pm'd you before, about my ds1 (who has anxiety and a history of school refusal) but this time your topic reminded me of ds2!
He is 4 and attending preschool. Last week they spoke to me about possibly delaying starting school next year because of his behaviours at preschool. Basically he just doesn't follow instructions and doesn't participate in group activities, he'd rather just do what he wants when he wants.
Anyway, they suggested getting an appointment with the OT to determine whether he has sensory issues, maybe the large group overwhelms him, or if there's something else going on. She will meet with us both and then do an observation on him at preschool. Have you seen an OT?

I'm interested to hear if you think delaying your son's entry into school helped him as well, PM me if that's too off topic.

Eta- I just re read and saw you are seeing an OT :doh:

Edited by mokeydoke, 30 July 2013 - 12:46 PM.

#3 librablonde

Posted 30 July 2013 - 01:22 PM

We're currently struggling with DFS1's behaviour (age 6.5yrs) which is undignosed at this stage but I feel very strongly will be probably ADHD and SPD. He is in Prep and also struggled to make friends and follow instructions and can become very agressive and hyper. His teachers and childcare workers have also talked to me about ADHD/SPD and his behaviour. I have had him on a mostly wholefoods diet and while it hasn't stopped his anger and out-of-control behaviour, it has lessened it. Also, I give him Ethical Nutrients brand of High Strength Fish Oil which I can see definitely helps him. It takes a few weeks to kick in. Again, it doesn't solve the issue, just lessens it.Because he can become so highly destructive and chaotic and hyper, we also stripped his bedroom down to just his bed and curtains and a wardrobe that we can bolt shut, up high out of his reach. No pictures, no toys, no other furniture. He's calmer with this too and he can earn items for his bedroom with good behaviour (or lose them). In saying all that, we're frequently at our wits end as to what we can do to help him. All the usual sticker charts and other forms of parenting or currency don't work at all. His father has a history of schizophrenia and boarderline personality disorder.

ETA: There is a video available called A Sensory World which is brilliant is discussing SPD and various therapies. Also a book called The Out-Of-Sync Child is a great resource. My DS is calmed by weight bearing activities: carrying firewood, dragging/pushing heavy objects, hanging upside down, a weighted blanket.

http://www.child.tcu...u/DVD sales.asp

Edited by librablonde, 30 July 2013 - 01:29 PM.

#4 alwayshappy

Posted 30 July 2013 - 01:58 PM

Thanks ladies. My son definitely has a few things going on - anxiety to some degree, strong-willed, sensitive, lacks resilience.... I think all of these factors contribute towards his aggressive behaviour and it's so hard to decipher the triggers so we know how to respond appropriately.
Mokeydoke, I'm really surprised someone didn't suggest sensory issues much earlier than when they were touted.  The first they were mentioned was by the school principal once he started prep. So child care, maternal child health nurses, kindergarten teachers, early intervention specialists... none of them suggested that sensory processing could be an issue. We have just found a local OT (we are in a regional area, miles from a capital city, so it's a good find!) who specialises in Gen Jerub's work, so we're excited about going down this path with her.  We're yet to see the OT.
My son attends the local mental health service at the hospital and has done for around 6 months.  Whilst it's great for him to have some one on one time with a case worker, we don't believe we are getting to the bottom of the behaviour... and therefore, limited in our ability to manage or improve the behaviour. We're still searching for a therapeutic intervention that has created sustainable change for our son - it's very frustrating.
Large groups definitely overwhelm our son. He finds it very difficult to be around a lot of noise and activity.  However, he also seeks it out (at playgrounds, for example) and enjoys it very much.  Unfortunately, good fun can very quickly turn into someone being thumped!  He gets overwhelmed and something trigers an aggressive outburst.  Then it's meltdown for long periods of time.
Our first OT assessment is in two weeks time, so we're excited about this new direction and hopeful of some answers.
I dont' think delaying our son's entry into school helped him at all because his issues weren't necessarily 'age' related but more complex than that.  Given we didn't go the other route (school entry when he was eligible), it's hard to say definitely it didn't help, but we do know that school has been a nightmare experience for him and us. His behaviour was cordial for about 3 days, then the school saw what he was capable of.  It got to the point where he could not remain in the classroom due to his aggressive outbursts and the school's inability to manage without an aide. So we then went along the aide route and have only just submitted an application to Dept of Education at the end of last term (and still waiting a response!). He has spent the last six months in the principals office, literally!  Playing ipads, some teacher interaction when available.... I'm not sure what else. School is just waiting for aide funding so they can get him back into the classroom.  Department of Education (Vic) don't seem to be in any rush to get him help but that's beauracracy for you.  It's been an arduous process, but has ruled out a lot of possible reasons for his behaviour (but unfortunately, still hasn't given us the answers!).
Librablonde - thanks for  your story. it certainly sounds like you're strugglign with similar issues.  Can I guess that, as he's a foster child, he's also had some challenges in his earlier life? This is what perplexes us with our son - professionals always looking for a way to explain it through some kind of trauma, which there has been none! Our son also trashes his room and will damage anyone and anything that's in his way when he's having a meltdown. There is damage all around our home from his outbursts :(
I am aware of 'The out-of-sync child' and did borrow it from the library but had to return it before I'd been able to finish it - isn't that the way! I'll see if I can get my hands on the video  you've mentioned too. It's so hard when you see these beautiful little, normal people turn into angry, out of control fire crackers... so damn frustrating and heartbreaking. I have much empathy for our son though, and that's what helps me press on.  I need to have answers so I can help him.  I'm sure we'll be looking at the types of therapies you are doing with your FS as our son also loves lots of weight bearing activities and proactively seeks it out when he's angry.

#5 librablonde

Posted 30 July 2013 - 02:48 PM

 alwayshappy, on 30 July 2013 - 01:58 PM, said:

Librablonde - thanks for  your story. it certainly sounds like you're strugglign with similar issues.  Can I guess that, as he's a foster child, he's also had some challenges in his earlier life? This is what perplexes us with our son - professionals always looking for a way to explain it through some kind of trauma, which there has been none!
I know, but the thing is, I got DFS1 when he was 7 months old and he's been with me in a stable loving home ever since. I immediately started doing lots of attachment parenting/sling wearing/ intense bonding stuff so all his previous trauma was in-utero and 0-7 months of age. You'd think that being so young when coming to me would almost cancel out his previous trauma but it doesn't :( DFS1 also suffers from anxiety and extreme teeth grinding. His front teeth are almost ground down to the gumline, it's heartbreaking Posted Image

I live in a rural area of Tasmania and finding support services/professionals is very difficult and would involve very long travel distances to access: not easy with 4 other kids in tow. Like you, I wish the Education Dept would provide more support so my DS and the rest of his class and teachers can have an easier time of it. Like for all parents of children with SN's, navigating the system and finding the best resources is a major challenge. OP, I hope your DS gets an aide and the support he needs, It's wonderful that he has such a loving and proactive mum who can be his advocate, so many other kids aren't so lucky.

Let us know how you go with your DS, OP xox

#6 ..-

Posted 30 July 2013 - 03:07 PM

AlwaysHappy it sounds like you have a lot on your plate and are doing a fantastic, albeit exhausting, job.

Just a thought - were you happy with the health professionals who assessed your son for possible ASD/ADHD? Were they specialists in both conditions? How old was your son when he was assessed? I say this only because there are quite a number of stories of children being assessed incorrectly, for ASD in particular, and parents then find, further down the track, that a diagnosis was indeed warranted. Sensory issues are a particular characteristic of ASD, as you would know. I'm afraid I don't know much about ADHD in this regard.

For all I know, you had very thorough assessments by competent people and know them to be correct. I just thought I'd raise it just in case.

I hope you get some answers soon for you and your beautiful boy.

#7 alwayshappy

Posted 01 August 2013 - 04:06 PM

Jazzie123 - thank  you for yoru compliments.  You do what you can do to support your kids, don't you.  My son's primary assessment for ASD came through the school appointed clinical psychologist during her cognitive functioning testing. She said in her report she did not believe he showed signs of ASD.  This was also supported by a mental health practitioner who sees my son weekly at SYMHS. Their reports were enough for Dept Education.  He has never had an assessment for ADHD. He was six when assessed by the clinical psychologist.  He doesn't really show any classic symptoms of ASD except for some of these behaviours, which may or may not be sensory issues.  Our concern was more around having him assessed as ASD when he wasn't!! Sometimes professionals like to have the diagnosis for the parents, as it assists with funding opportunities and can help explain some behaviours.  We did not want to see this happen and were happy with a report stating that they did not believe he had ASD - we would have been very, very surprised if any reports had stated otherwise.
We also hope we have some answers soon, it's been a long time coming.

#8 ..-

Posted 02 August 2013 - 11:34 AM

I hope you get some answers too, alwayshappy. It sounds like it has been a bit of a long road. All the best with finding the right direction. :-)

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