October is a very important month for families coping with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Not only is it important to the professionals, researchers and therapists treating these children, it is equally as important to the parents, friends and family members who want to do their part in advocating for their child.
What is also vital for others to learn about and understand is that SPD is a neurological disorder that effects sensory functioning. Although it has been linked with those living with Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as well as misdiagnosed as behavioral disorder, ADHD, OCD and other conditions, it needs to be known that SPD is a separate disorder with its own diagnosis process and specialized treatment.
Understandably, it can be rather confusing or even overwhelming to know what direction to go in with all of the resources available now. But even simply sharing a personal story or talking about a therapy that worked with a child or pointing a great resource website out to parents and guardians just starting off on their journey in dealing with this disorder is a wonderful contribution.
Here are a few suggestions to helping to advocate for these families this month:
- Reach Out. There is nothing more comforting than being able to talk to and share with other parents or families going through similar struggles. Research local SPD clinics or support groups to see if there is any need for offering information on the subject. If there are no local support groups, create one. Trust me, they are needed and the more of them that are out there, the less parents will feel the isolation of raising a child not many others try to understand.
- Organize a fundraiser. Organize a walk for SPD; put together a ‘sensory day’ where families can be introduced to fun time through the senses; have a barbeque or potluck; do a giveaway to win books, sensory toys or other prizes; have a door-to-door with information in exchange for a small donation. On top of these ideas, the STAR Institute also offers many ways to help raise funds for important research, or even to assist other families.
- Share a personal story. There is a lot to be said about those who are brave enough to come forward with their own experiences on a specific subject. Parents of children raising children with SPD often feel alone in what they’re going through. Knowing there are others who truly understand the experiences means so much. In these modern times of blogging and many social media outlets, there are various ways to share a story someone else may need on a really trying day.
- These sorts of books are an extension of a blog post in that a personal story is shared, but it is presented on a much deeper level. A parent can receive insight from other parents who have gone through, or continue to go through, similar experiences right from the start. Checking memoirs on the subject of SPD is an excellent resource for another parent who feels they have nowhere else to turn, or that no one else ‘gets’ what their family is going through.
- Sharing personal insight on specific therapeutic therapies. Every child that lives with SPD has individual symptoms, different levels of sensory sensitivities and different needs in regulating their bodies. If a specific form of therapy has worked, why not share the experience with others who haven’t tried it yet.
There are so many ways to help raise awareness for SPD not discussed here. These are only a few suggestions for people to delve into. Reach into your heart, do your research, use your imagination and share what you know. Advocating for SPD, and those closest to us going along their own journeys, stems from a solid base of knowledge and understanding.
That’s the greatest gift we can give to these families during this month, and every day.