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Sensory Integration "Diet"/Discipline for Older Kids

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Hi. I posted a couple of weeks back about my almost 13 yr. old ds struggling with anxiety, OCD, etc.


He is seeing a child psychologist who specializes in cognitive behavior therapy. Some of the techniques she has taught him may be starting to help, but I'm not sure if his improvement is due to that or something else.


I do know that he has a **really** hard time adapting to changes in his routine and environment, negotiating life stresses and frustration, and dealing with disappointment and boredom.


He may or not be on the A spectrum. He "straddles" several different dx, to use his therapist's term, but doesn't fit neatly into any category. Kinda like his mom, I guess.


He's had sensory processing challenges since birth. I read all the books I could when he was little and tried to provide a diverse sensory diet using what was available to me at the time.


He also went to OT when he was 5 where he received the usual sensory program therapy and Therapeutic Listening. We followed up with VT when he was 6.


It was a lot easier to maintain an sensory diet program for him when he was younger. Most of his childhood activities and interests provided the needed sensory opportunities and he continued to improve as he got older--more regulated, less tormented, etc.


He's been in dance classes for 5 years (excellent body awareness therapy!!!) And he's played, played, played in the house and outside.


But now he's a BIG kid. Not so much playing anymore. He's still in dance and participates in community sports. He throws a mini-basketball around in the house a lot and immerses himself in Wii sports (often a disaster, though, emotionallly). Other than these outlets, though, he doesn't get a lot of sensory regulating tasks.


As his mother, I can see that this poor sensory diet is contributing to his anxiety, lack of control and regulation, depression, etc.


What can I do to help provide age-appropriate sensory integration activities for him? I don't even know what might be suitable for a boy this age?


At this point, I'm open to anything. I'm worried about costs, but am sincerely willing to do what it takes to help him.


Please throw me any ideas you might have! What have you tried or heard about? What has worked with your older child or other people you know? What hasn't?


As a side note, I'm getting sick of his outbursts involving frustration, rigidity and perfectionism.


His tantrums used to be so frequent and intense when he was little, I'd just crawl up in a ball and cry sometimes. Over the years, he calmed down so much and our life got so much more peaceful and happier.


Lately though, **I'm** starting to get so stressed by **his** stress. I want to hide under the covers some days, maybe even curl into the fetal position again. He's starting to get to me, you know?


I'm wondering how much of his behavior is a discipline issue??? Maybe if I just crack down on him with an enough-is-enough/tough love policy he'll reel some of his behaviors in? He CAN control it in public.


Out of necessity, I used to be strict. I used a zero-tolerance, time-out! rule as part of my "Transforming the Difficult Child" parenting. Rules were clear, but fair. I used a gentle-firm "tomato-staking" approach, and nurtured and guided with positive reinforcement and respect. After a lot of practice, it was effective.


In the last few years, I've gotten (too) relaxed. Ds didn't need "managing" anymore. He had more self-discipline and peace than most adults. But he obviously needs some parental guidance now.


The truth is, I'm not sure how to set expectations and standards for an older kid. And I don't know how much accountability I should require?


He's wearing me down and I'm starting to get angry. I'm only human. But I don't know if my anger is clouding my judgement or actually clarifying the issue here, if that makes sense?


How do you know how much of the behavior is a discipline issue and how much is a special needs problem that he truly can't help right now?


How do you give an older kid the equivalent of a "time-out" to manage behavior? Sending him to his room will NOT help, believe me. That might work for the Cleavers, but not here.


There used to be a mom here who sent her older kid out to do laps in the yard when his SPD behavior/attitudes escalated.


I'm wondering if that might actually work?


I know that I need to set up a highly-structured routine in our house and school. Boot camp life seems appealing right now.


I need ideas! Help!:confused:


Thanks for any idea, feedback, shared experiences, guidance:auto::bigear:

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well, putting him on an exersise routine might be a good idea . . . whatever you can get him to do, daily jogging, a workout video, weight lifting . . . but for my teen, meds make the biggest difference in being able to handle himself. Mostly i am constantly gently reminding him of expected behavior. I only send him to his room if he refuses after several firm request or if he get aggressive towards me - this is very rare. but he hates being sent to his room, and often comes down crying and apologizing. but at some point he has to have enough awareness of his actions, how they impact others around him, and how they will impact his future. we talk about this all the time, about what he needs to do looking forward


i hope the therapist is willing to help. teen years are so hard. my daughter and i had the worst time, so far my son and i are doing ok

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well, putting him on an exersise routine might be a good idea . . . whatever you can get him to do, daily jogging, a workout video, weight lifting . . . but for my teen, meds make the biggest difference in being able to handle himself.



For my pre-teen as well. We just made a medication adjustment and it has been very helpful for my DS.


If your DS is fit, indoor rock climbing is excellent because it integrates the whole body plus right-left side coordination. Swimming is also a good option for full body coordination.

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How structured are your days right now? Is there any possibility of adding some structured periods of exercise into your school day. That could be a walk or bike ride before school, a five minute exercise bike break in between subjects, etc.


I think a lot of what your post hits on is that stuff really does need to change as kids get older. They need to begin to take more responsibility for self regulation. It is important to remember though that maturity is about more than chronological age - if he's young for his age it is going to still take more from you.


Do you have any time together now where you meet to make plans for school or for the household? That might be one place to start bringing him on board with feeling like he has responsibility. One strategy that works well for many families is to make it a positive part of the routine - so meeting over cookies or cocoa. Try to identify SMALL manageable goals for the week and work together to come up with a strategy that might work. What you want is for him to start to get invested in feeling better and taking little actions to make that happen. The therapist he's seen for CBT may have some suggestions as well.


The biggest thing... and this isn't easy is to try not to overhaul everything at once. Little goals, that's he's on board with, chip away at them bit by bit.

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If you find the right place, he's *not* too old for some more OT. We did it over the last couple years (age 11-12) and I'd go back in a heartbeat if it were practical and affordable for us at the moment. As is, it's one of those things that just doesn't get done. Anyways, when dd was doing OT (and she's bigger than me btw, 5'7"), the OT had her doing grown-up-ish things. She's low tone and very sensitive. She was doing a lot with bands and light weights to build tone. She did a Sky Chair with a weighted collar every session. We've had an off-brand one (actually the net/hammock type) in our basement for a while, and I'm getting ready to finally buy her the NICE one. Highly, highly recommend a single line swing like that. Once you get that line installed with a chain and the bracket thing (forgot the name, sorry) to attach stuff, then you could trade out. My ds is DYING for me to make him a punching bag. Might be on a good level for your ds. I found some neoprene boxing gloves at the sporting goods store. Amazon has them for around $15. If you do that, he can box anything appropriate. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0011EA78E/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?ie=UTF8&smid=AP419LRQLV4LW Sometimes bags go on sale, or I found instructions online where you could make a punching bag yourself.


Does he ever exercise? They sell an inexpensive exercise bar you can hang in your door frame. Walmart has it. Then he can do different kinds of pull-ups, etc. Yes, treadmill, laps, anything you can think up. You're probably seeing both the sensory AND the hormones of the age. Both benefit from more exercise, so just ramp it up, kwim? Maybe you'd like to try the presidents physical fitness program or join the Y or something. I was thinking about taking my dd to Curves, now that she's old enough. Not sure we'll get to, but it's all in the right vein. (toning, joint compression, shifting weight to get vestibular input, etc.)

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Kung fu has been great here. We get the family plan for a year, and I get sick when the bill comes due, but it's the most affordable option. Dh brings most of the kids.


Have you read the Temple Grandin books? Now that your ds is getting older, it might really help you to get a sense of how an older person perceives sensory issues. She describes how anxiety as it relates to sensory issues can really increase as these kids get older. I think she eventually turned to a very low dose of meds and offers that as a possibility for others who suffer from debilitating sensory issues and anxiety. And don't forget her squeeze machine.


Just throwing out ideas...:grouphug:

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