Surviving the life of a "High Needs" child & parent.

Tag Archives: Hyperactivity

A while back I posted about some concern I was having that the little man might have some symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder. Because he has been hitting all his development milestones according to the doctor and daycare I haven’t really though much of it again. Now with the way things have been going I’m starting to wonder again if it could be an issue for us.

I stumbled on an article on the Fussy Baby Site recently and it’s got me thinking again. It’s good to know that I’m not the only parent considering this about their high needs child.  In any event, through the article listed above I intend to actually follow up this time on investigating the Habanero’s Sensory Profile.

We are still struggling with getting him to “sleep through the night” at over year and a half and according to our doctor by 18 months we should no longer be doing night time bottles. This goal seems somewhat more attainable that it has in months past but still somewhat of a challenge. I have noticed that the little man doesn’t like to eat when we are in a public place for dinner he is so easily distracted by all the goings on around him. I’m not really sure if this normal kid behavior since I’m a first time parent or if it’s a personality thing.

My husband has been claiming for a while now that he thinks my son has ADHD and from what I saw in the article it looks like we aren’t the only parents with this concern. So I guess what I’m saying is, if you suspect you have a high needs child that these are other concerns you might also want to familiarize yourself with or be aware of the symptoms. Obviously not all children who are high needs might have additional challenges such as these but I think we owe it to ourselves and them to at least be aware. Here are some of the symptoms for SPD listed in this article:

  • Difficulty falling and remaining asleep without external soothing.
  • Trouble latching on to breastfeed.
  • Tantrums and crying that are more intense and last longer than they do for most babies and toddlers.
  • Especially clingy and difficulty self-soothing or being soothed by someone other than the primary caregiver.
  • Very picky about how he or she is held.
  • Very high or very low pain threshold.
  • Constantly on the move.
  • Clumsy, uncoordinated, drops items often.
  • Trouble shifting focus from one activity to the next or one toy to the next.
  • Doesn’t like rocking at all OR wants to rock all the time.
  • Very distressed or even nauseated by swinging OR won’t come out of the baby swing without wailing because she loves swinging so much.
  • Very sensitive to certain sounds, too much light or a certain quality of light, temperature, sights including certain colors or a busy visual field, a lot of sounds at once such as people singing in unison, being touched unexpectedly, pressure against the skin (in other words, a light touch may be very distressing compared to a heavy touch, temperature, clothing fabrics, and so on). Think extreme responses to everyday sensations.
  • Constantly sensory seeking—touching, tasting, etc.—more so than most babies and toddlers. For example, the baby might enjoy sucking on a lemon!
  • Upset by having to transition from one sensory environment to another, such as from a warm room to a cool one.
  • Eating difficulties, such as transitioning to solid foods, keeping the food together to chew it and swallow it effectively.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Slow to toilet train.

If you know me in my personal life or knew me pre-mother, you would be very aware that I up until having my son I led a very structured life. For 8 years I was in the military, I’ve gone through college to my Master’s degree, gotten married, purchased homes – until April of 2015 I really couldn’t have seen myself any other way. You might guess what’s coming… it’s the “I can’t be structured because children don’t allow for that post.”

As the oldest child myself you could say I previously found comfort in the stereotype of always trying to do everything the “right way”. After all, I was the example kid. Recently my mom told me that she was surprised that I was so non-structured as a parent. She said she could never have imagined me being okay with living life day to day “without a plan” so much as I did in my past and not attacking every objective with a first this, then this approach. She said, “you seem to just want to do things the easiest way” now. I laughed. Yes we were once again discussing my ability to get the Habanero out of my bed and into his own before our new arrival.

I’m not entirely lackadaisical these days, as you know it’s really hard to be when you’re a mom. Most moms are the “family organizer”. Despite that, I’m not a parent that has a evening routine with my child. I know it’s recommended, that children have structure in their day and I agree with that to a certain degree. Because the Habanero attends daycare and has a very structured schedule 5 days a week, in his time at home I don’t feel that it’s necessary to impose a schedule on him if I can help it. I might regret this in the future… maybe it’s a rookie mistake. I guess it’s important to note a disclaimer: my thoughts on this may change in the future if I think it will be beneficial to him to have more structure; for now I like to raise him with the notion that his only job is to be a kid, imagine, learn and adventure.

I’d like to teach him that your home is your sanctuary from the craziness of the rest of the world. Growing up I never felt this way, so perhaps now I’m overcompensating. In my upbringing my time at home was typically more stressful to me than my time outside of it. As a result, the second I was old enough to work I had no less than 3 jobs at any given time to keep me out of the house when I wasn’t in class. While I think having rules are important, I don’t think that doing the same thing every evening is. Nor do I understand the parents that have something to do every night of the week with all their practices, games and activities. Forcing their kids to compete, which is something they will inevitably have to do the rest of their lives as an adult – it’s not something I can subscribe to.

I believe that imposing too much structure is detrimental to a child because it goes against how they learn and live. Asking a child to behave like an adult and be asleep at the same time every night, would in my opinion, undoubtedly make the growing up experience much less enjoyable. I think that much of the non-funness of being an adult should be saved for being an adult, because failing that would contribute to a child who cannot be dynamic and have good time or sense of them self and is much too serious.

As I mentioned in my prior post, we try to avoid going out to eat as much as possible these days because the little man sees it as an invitation to act like a holy terror. Really, I should have known better… but every time we go out I hope for the best and cross my fingers that the Habanero will behave. I tend to think even though I’d like to avoid going out in public so I don’t have to deal with the hassle it’s still important for him to learn how to act in public and he’s not going to do that home.

In any case the other night we decided to throw caution to the wind and venture out for some Mexican because I didn’t feel like cooking. When you have kid, you typically get seated at restaurants well away from the other patrons and tonight was no exception. We were given a table near the only other family in the place who had two kids.

It’s always interesting to see how other parents, “parent” while you’re out in public. Before having children this is something I never would have paid any attention to, but now it’s a source of entertainment. Now, I don’t know about you but when I’m out and “people watching” I try not to be rude and stare, but I still glance over from time to time to check out what’s going on especially when there is a lot of noise going on.

Anyways, I’ve gone on long enough so I’ll try to get to the point. One of the children sitting at the table probably not much older than the Habanero was being a pill. Both of the children with the couple were girls, which I found kind of surprising because well usually it’s little boys misbehaving in public. I’ve always heard that girls are easier until they become teens, but I’m sure it depends on the kid. The family’s youngest was insisting on sitting in her parents lap while they were trying to eat, of course they were trying to pacify her and keep her quiet (she was quite vocal) while they finished their food. I took only slight notice of the commotion a few booths down out of the corner of my eye but saw parents trying to manhandle the girl to sit in her spot on the table.

When she realized she was getting nowhere she squirmed out of the seat and ran to the booth across from the family and proceeded to climb all over it like a monkey. No surface was safe until mom got up and wrangled her back to the table at which point tantrum commenced. Mom decided she had enough, and took both girls to the bathroom immediately after. Upon returning, dad got left at the table and mom took the kids to the car with her – obviously embarrassed by her kid’s behavior.

Between the tantrum and the trip the bathroom another couple wandered in and was seated across the aisle from us. Throughout the commotion our little guy was happily munching on chips and somewhat oblivious to what all had happened. The second our food arrived, it no longer became acceptable for him to sit in his high chair and he began standing up and trying to get out. For a while he was happy to sit at the booth next to dad, but that was short lived. He slid down to the nasty floor under the table and started crawling around. Dad was content to let him – but of course mom wasn’t. I picked him up, put him back in his seat and tried to get him to eat which he pretty much refused. Crying between bites of bean and rice he didn’t miss a tear.

He kept trying to stand and get out, and every time I sat him down and told him he had to wait to get up. This wasn’t an acceptable answer I guess because it just made the Habanero more vocal and he started with an all out fit. All the while, the couple across from us was watching our battle of wills – and not even inconspicuously. They were outright staring at us. I wanted to turn to them and ask if they were enjoying the show but I chose to ignore their stares and focus on the little man in hopes to try and get my point across.

You know how you can just tell what someone is thinking sometimes? This couple obviously was annoyed by our kid’s antics, he was crying and being a complete brat and you know what? I didn’t care. You could tell they were waiting for us to scoop him up and rush out of the restaurant like most parents but I wasn’t so inclined. I did find myself getting annoyed at the time it took the check to reach our table, but in the mean time I let the Habanero have his fit and tried to sternly tell him he needed to stop acting that way and he had to wait to get up. I’m not really sure what’s up with people these days but it seems like it’s almost expected that when a child is making a scene the parents are supposed to rush their child out of the situation rather than attempt to correct the problem right then and there.

Sure I was embarrassed by how my kid was acting, but I don’t think it’s right for other people to expect me to remove him so as not to disturb their meal. Maybe I’m rude for taking this stance, but I just don’t agree with reactionary parenting. It’s frustrating to be stared at, waiting for your check and having a child in all out tantrum mode but I know that in the future if my kid learns that all he has to do is act bad when he wants to get out of a situation I’ll be shooting myself in the foot. I guess that’s why I don’t understand when I see so many parents reacting to their children this way. I think this must be an American parenting tactic because it seems to fit with why American children require so much attention in comparison to others… or so I’ve read.

Reaching back into my memory from nearly a year past I thought it might be good to write up some of the first things we noticed about life with our little bundle of joy that could have indicated that were dealing with a high needs baby. The biggest flags were likely that anytime I raised my voice around him, he would cry, even as early as when we first brought him home from the hospital. And that he was feeding all the time, clearly as a means for comfort. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times that a bottle was turned away by our little man since his birth.

Anyone that knows me well in my personal life will tell you that my inability to have an angry fit within ear shot of my child … well… it’s been like learning to be a new person for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an angry person, but when I am upset I like to be a little high needs myself in that I make sure everyone knows about it. So with a baby that can’t handle even the slightest inflection of the tone of my voice you can pretty much summarize my life as “walking on egg shells” whenever he is conscious. Now, I’m sure your thinking maybe I’m over exaggerating this – perhaps you might even think this normal for a baby to sense their mother’s moods and respond to them accordingly. Yes I have heard this before.

What I can tell you is that the Habanero does not only respond to me in this way, his teachers also tell me that he frequently cries whenever there is any tone of disapproval in their voice. And this isn’t just like a oh, you hurt my feelings cry, it usually goes into a full on fit immediately – bottom lip sticking out and all. Our son is very gifted when it comes to expressing his emotions, that much is true. What we have learned is that most of the time these times of being upset do not require comforting to end just as quickly as they have started. The nice thing about being so extreme in his reactions to things is that typically the fit doesn’t last long.

On a positive note, I wouldn’t call the Habanero a cry baby by any means, he’s not one of these kids that cries all the time about anything. In fact, as a newborn it was often remarked what a happy baby he is. If he’s crying it’s typically because either you’ve shown some sign of disapproval, or he needs something like sleep. Some other notable  traits of a high needs baby that he had were that he hated being swaddled, love being cuddled and was constantly moving. He never really just kind of laid there like a bump on a log even as a newborn.

These days his constant need to explore and inability to be put down when we get home in the evenings are some of the characteristics that point more toward high needs, perhaps because we’ve gotten used to all the other things as part of every day life. When we get home after work I can’t really do much in the kitchen, even to prepare his meal for him because he’s (literally) hugging my leg the whole time. As you can imagine this makes it very hard to get much accomplished. His meals are usually very simple and require little work primarily because I don’t have the patience for trying to keep him happy while cooking. As for myself, because my husband works nights half the week he’s usually not home to help preoccupy the little guy so my dinner is almost always something completely unhealthy that I can make in 10 minutes or less at about 9 PM at night. So you see… this can be pretty draining day in and day out, but they say that is to be expected!