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

Tag Archives: Personality

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.

The Habanero has always been dramatic in his fits and is easily upset. A while back he started occasionally sending himself into a coughing tantrum when he was mad about something and I didn’t think much of it. Sometimes the coughs would lead to him spitting up, but most the time we have been able to calm him down before it gets to that point.

Last week in our car rides he started shoving his fingers down his throat (and other objects) to make himself gag which eventually leads to him puking. As you can imagine, this behavior is very frustrating in the car because there’s really nothing I can do to stop it besides telling him not to do it which of course he doesn’t listen to.

I thought maybe it was just normal for a kid to put their fingers in their mouth and gag themselves all this time, so I really haven’t thought much about it. In talking to some other people I’m realizing that this behavior of his really seems to be more about attention than anything else. There is little in the way of advice online for this that I can find and everything I’ve read says to interfere with the behavior by stopping the child physically from doing it and tell them not to, but as you can imagine that’s pretty hard to do when I’m driving.

For a while now I’ve been hoping that this coughing/gagging himself thing was just a phase that he would eventually grow out of as I’ve seen others say this about their children. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon without some sort of intervention and it’s probably going to get worse as we get closer to the age of 2. Getting tired of cleaning the car seat…

purple-artificial-grass-flower-sprayWhen I first started taking the Habanero out shopping regularly (only a couple months ago) he began showing interest in touching things in the store so I thought it might be fun to take him down the faux floral aisle at Walmart. He was having a great time touching the different flowers until we came to one that looked similar to the one on the right. Before I even had a chance to put his hand out to touch he started crying hysterically. I tried to convince him it was okay to touch, but putting his hand anywhere near it made him retract and physically pull himself away crying even louder. I felt really bad.

Around that same time he became interested in scratching things with his fingernails. Namely, our gas fireplace screen of metal mesh. He did that for a couple of weeks pretty regularly but it seems to have tapered off. He only does it occasionally now.

Most parents would probably think that this behavior was somewhat normal, but after an incident in which he saw his first mature tree bark and started crying I’m not so sure. I try to be optimistic about the strange things he does sometimes but where do you draw the line? Clearly he’s hypersensitive to textures. Most the time he enjoys exploring them, but pretty much anything that even looks rough he’s pretty terrified of.

Now he has started pointing at things he wants to touch, which I have read is normal. One mom called it “the E.T. finger” which I think is pretty cute. Last week for class I had to fill out a page with the Habanero’s favorite things written on it. When it came to the question of favorite toys, I had to ask my husband. Is that weird? As his mom I didn’t know what to write down. I came to the realization that he doesn’t really have any favorite toys. He likes to play with shoes, laundry and anything that makes noise is what I wrote down. This kid has a ton of toys so it’s not for lack of other things to play with.

The weekend before last I saw him trying to dress himself in a sweater I had left on the floor. Of course, since he doesn’t really know how yet he ended up just basically wearing it as a scarf around his neck and shoulders and crawling around with it on. This could all be normal but I have also noticed that he’s obsessed with fabrics. What I mean by this is that he loves to pick clothing up and run it over his face. He throws it over his head and pulls it down over his face smiling. I thought maybe it was something he was just doing at home, but his teacher told me he was doing it the other day with a scarf at school.

So I started looking around about kids being obsessed with fabric on the web. Nothing. Could this be a symptom of his high needs personality? Maybe something else. This is how I eventually stumbled on SPD. What is SPD?

From WebMD,  Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. The condition used to be called sensory integration dysfunction. It is occasionally associated with children who also have Autism. I did manage to find a lot of mothers concerned with their child’s obsession with textures online which was kind of comforting. In any case I’ll be asking the doctor about this when we go in for his 12 month visit for sure.

I’m sure I’ll learn to love this characteristic of the Habanero’s personality when he’s older more, but for now it is just very worrisome. He’s very determined and stubborn, and I’m pretty sure he’d crawl right off a cliff if I let him. When he sees something he wants, he goes right for it with amazing speed. Somewhat related, it seems is his demanding nature. This High Needs trait can drive us crazy sometimes. Lately he’s been snatching food off our plates and sticking his hand in our drinks before we even have the reflex to stop him. Between him and the dog it’s a wonder we even get to eat anything!

It doesn’t matter were we are – as with most kids he completely disregards his surroundings when he wants something. The thing is, he is so loud about what he wants when he wants something that you have no choice but to hear him and respond. For example, the other day when I picked him up from the daycare he was crying. He was crying so loud that I could hear him all the way down the hallway when I walked into the door to the daycare. What was wrong? Well nothing really he was just sitting there crying when I came in, I presume because he was cranky and tired.

You might think I am exaggerating his vocal abilities, but honestly, sometimes he’s so intense that you can’t even think when he’s crying. Fortunately for me, he doesn’t cry all the time or this would drive me insane. He pretty much does everything loudly though, did I mention how loud he is? The Habanero talks in high volume as well. Fortunately he’s at the stage where most people consider it cute and he’s just babbling. I think it might be almost normal for babies to have no control over their volume levels, but with any luck as he gets older he’ll learn to tone it down a little.

I cringe at the thought of the first time he says something completely embarrassing at the store where everyone stops and looks at me. I’m sure when the time comes I’ll have no choice but to laugh it off. Because he’s been so talkative since he was born I  know  it will happen several times.

Since I’ve been spreading the word about High Needs babies to friends and my son’s teachers after the initial, “Every baby is High Needs” response the next question that is typically asked or topic discussed is, “Is it something they will grow out of?” According to Dr. Sears’ website, and I tend to agree at this point, that no, it is not something that they grow out of. This is not a phase, it as a personality type. I think that is the hardest part of this label for people to wrap their heads around. It’s not a phase, it’s your child’s personality.

While their characteristics may change over the years to be described differently, they will always be there in some form or another. I think this is so hard for people to understand because we have placed so much emphasis on the whole nature versus nurture premise throughout the years. And so, we being the egotistical parents that we are think that we have complete control over who our child is to become as an adult.

Therefore, I thought it would be fun to challenge you with this question : if our personalities are so reliant on the environments we’ve been raised in and our parents choices – then why do our children have some of the same little quirky characteristics of their parents? It’s simply because they were coded that way, it’s in their genetics. It must be, or how would you explain the unfortunate children who are separated from their families as babies and have the same personality traits as their parents despite having never met them?

The biggest hurdle of learning to love the personality of the baby you’ve been given really is coming to the realization that this is the kind of child you’ve been blessed with. Sure, you may be able to teach the child to act differently, but I caution that the benefits of having a high needs child (to me) far out weigh the negative aspects. As part of this post I thought it would be good to share a table that I pulled from the Dr. Sears’ website to help others understand what their High Needs child might become in the future. It’s important to remember that your child may or may not have all of these traits, as Dr. Sears’ notes on his site.