Grumpy, Bad Tempered or Sensory Issues?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, whether or not to take Hannah to see an OT. She has exhibited some behaviors which could be a sign of sensory issues, it could also be a part of her settling after the disruption so early on in her life and issues relating to her placement & post placement stress and grief, it could also just be that she is a difficult and moody child. Either way, I’d like to look into it, just for peace of mind, just to know that we’re doing everything we can to make life easier for her and to understand and accommodate her better.

I have a couple of friends who have children with sensory issues, the more I’ve chatted with them about it, the more I’ve had this feeling like something more is going on with Hannah than just simply being difficult or being bad tempered.

As a second child I have found parenting her as an infant far easier than I did Ava but I have been increasingly more aware that she does not have Ava’s easy going personality, that she is actually quite bad tempered and that’s all fair enough, they are, after all individuals, and so it would be unreasonable of me to expect them to be the same. But Hannah’s temper seems to be sparked by the same things every single day:

  • She HATES having her face touched, touch her face, especially wiping it and she goes ape!
  • She hates getting dressed and undressed and this usually results in a scream-a-thon, most especially when any item of clothing is pulled over her head or onto her arms.
  • She hates having her arms touched and goes berserk when I rub cream on her arms after her bath.
  • She doesn’t like having her chest touched and freaks out when I rub cream on her.
  • She hates loud noises and using any loud household appliance around her usually results in a massive melt down that has her tearful and easily upset for the rest of the day.

Walter has found it difficult to bond with her because he says she’s always crying or fussing and being difficult. Initially I thought it was just that she was bad tempered but we’ve found ourselves tip toeing around her so as not to upset her because once she’s upset she stays that way for the rest of the day and this child will scream and throw a fit till she looses her voice and she can cry till she hucks and has the hiccups.

And maybe it is all perfectly normal behavior for an individual with a less than sunny disposition and that’s fine, but I need to know. I need to know if there is something we can do for her that could make life easier for her. I need to know if this is all just the manifestations of an bad tempered individual, or is it sensory or is it part of her grieving process post placement.

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  • Reply Tiina

    Hmmm..I would take her, just for the peace of mind. My friend has a baby who was just like Hannah and it turned out to be a sensory integration issue due to his stay in the NICU. OT helped and he is much much better now although they waited until he was a year old to get the issue sorted.

    August 5, 2013 at 10:27 am
  • Reply jenny

    I have to agree that she has sensory issues. Take her to an OT who will give you the tools to desensitise her – brushing etc. It has a long term impact on learning so do it now definitely (Dyl was exactly the same!)

    August 5, 2013 at 10:36 am
  • Reply Denise

    Sounds a lot like Jaden, he was 15 months when placed with us so it has been a long (and resistant) road to recovery. At one point we went to a paediatric neuro who said all was ok in brain and we must just persevere on the ‘touching’ front. He went from child who refused to be held or touched (post bath time was a nightmare) to a child who actually demands cuddles.

    We did use an OT from the beginning and it helped in some respects, she made useful suggestions like wearing tight clothing (a few sizes too small) to make him feel a bit restricted etc that helped to an extent as well as brushing (great tool and easy to use even when out and about). The biggest factor though was to just keep holding him despite his protestations.

    I struggled to bond with him for the same reasons as Walter and the only advice I have is don’t give up and just keep going back to her despite the rejection.

    Jaden is still seeing an OT to help with sensory integration (we can’t go to Spur for example because the noise, lights and general mayhem send him totally off the edge) malls and anywhere that stimulates the senses are all out of bounds for us.

    I’d suggest perseverance and an OT, it can’t hurt to get some help even if it turns out to be something else at least you can rule out the sensory issues.

    Good luck!

    August 5, 2013 at 10:45 am
  • Reply Victoire

    It sounds like sensory issues to me too. Definitely take her. We also learnt in baby massage that we could expect a show of emotion when we got to massaging the chest, as this seemed to release our babies’ emotions… If their hearts were sore this would come out, particularly if they had been through any trauma.

    August 5, 2013 at 10:53 am
  • Reply Karen @ MiriMoo

    I’d check it out to be safe. My daughter though had a number of what could be considered sensory issues with she was small, but accommodated her on the things we could, kept going on those we couldn’t and she’s grown out of it.

    August 5, 2013 at 10:58 am
  • Reply Melanie

    Please take her to a SI OT. (sensory integration terapist) Jano was exactly the same. he is now 7 and still have issues with cream/touch/clothes. We brush him now twice a day, and he is more torable. BUT still a long way to go. if you want you can talk to my SI OT. Melanie Cambell 0833293557. if her phone goes over to voice, leave a message, she could be busy with therapy. She can advice you or give you another SI OT number. Strongs!!!

    August 5, 2013 at 11:09 am
  • Reply Cindy

    Our second baby had the same sort of symptoms, except hers were that she wouldn’t let her feet touch anything other than her socks and would freak when different textures touched her at the same time. She is a more volatile individual though, and I have my own little theory on second children and their tendency for this but that’s a whole other story. We had some issues with her and her uncontrolable tantrums earlier this year ( and after discussing it with her teacher at school we found that she needs a calming tool to help her deal with the sensory issues she’s feeling. For some kids brushing their arms helps them (but in your case would make things worse) but for Riya letting her play with my hair really helped. Maybe your bundle needs a little toy or something? I don’t know if it will work but it might help.
    Either way I can totally relate to how difficult this is as each reaction that you described makes me remember those early years of Riya’s life. I hope that you guys can find a solution soon and I am sure that an OT would be able to help or at least put your mind at ease.

    August 5, 2013 at 11:11 am
  • Reply Tracy

    It could be any of the things you mentioned but for your peace of mind and Hannah’s benefit, I would say take her to an OT that knows about sensory issues. My older son has sensory processing disorder and it impacts him significantly. He went to a fabulous OT for 3 years and the main thing was that she taught him and us (as parents) coping strategies. If it is spd, the child is born with their brain hardwired differently and it is much for difficult for them to ‘just be’ in the world. Good luck!

    August 5, 2013 at 11:14 am
  • Reply Laura

    Take her Sharon! Kiara has sensory issues (so do I) and it can manifest in other sorts of issues once they start school.

    I never knew about this stuff when Kiara was a baby – it was only when her massive tantrums started and she refused to have certain clothes on, would cut the ends of her socks off etc that we thought their may be a bigger issue! She is better now but still can’t wear certain things, gets over stimulated very quickly etc etc

    Also get the book “Raising your Spirited Child” – DO IT!

    August 5, 2013 at 11:39 am
  • Reply Ailsa Jean Loudon

    Shame, I hope you can get to the bottom of the problem. My twin grandson cried non stop (it seemed non stop) while his sister was the quietest baby. Eventually they discovered he needed grommets! So really, you are doing the right thing by seeking help!

    August 5, 2013 at 11:53 am
  • Reply cat@jugglingact

    Sharon, take her to an OT that is and SI specialist – reading through all this it does sound like it. Remember it can manifest itself in different ways – Mr L is in no way touch sensitive, but the noise yes, and many other issues. He loves touch – but his only showed after about 2 – before he was the easiest happy baby. Also does she love/hate rough play – especially swinging or throwing up in the air? I will send you a link via email – have a look there at the warning flags for SPD/SID. If she has it – do read “the out of sync child” asap.

    August 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm
  • Reply Dee

    My one daughter has SI and taking her to an OT and brushing her daily helped alot. I would definitely recommend it as then you can rule that out if not the case.

    August 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm
  • Reply Nikki Heyman

    Sharon well done for picking up on this! I would definitely take her to a SI OT. Will give you some recommendations if you need.

    August 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm
  • Reply Beryl

    Raising Your Spirited Child is an excellent book. Lots of ideas for all age groups, so well worth a read.

    August 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm
  • Reply Julia

    She sounds exactly like Joel did. He was a terrible baby. Very fractious. It was incredibly frustrating but now that we know how to manage it (and we still forget sometimes) it’s just so much easier to manage him. Please go to an OT just to see that all is OK. Make sure you get an OT that is a SI specialist. @Cat would know one and @Cazpi too.

    August 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm
  • Reply TJ

    Shaz, I’ve only seen pics of your beautiful Hannah, and a trip to the OT won’t do any harm! Follow your gut, it’s probably correct. I would hate to step on your toes or make you worry, try see what her muscle tone is in her mouth too, she could possibly have low muscle tone(just out of observation based on my exp with Xavier) , there are facial exercises like toothbrushes, tapping, massaging that can help. I don’t know if she drools a lot or not ( this can also be an indication). Please, I’m not diagnosing or making you want to worry.

    Early intervention really is recommended even with sensory issues. I wish I followed my gut and knew to go to an OT 2 years earlier. And definitely get an OT with sensory integration. OTASA will be able to assist you if you need one in your area.

    Good luck!

    August 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm
    • Reply sophie

      I agree, Sharon. Follow your gut, a trip to an OT may not cause any harm. …. Z has displays similar behavior, not on the touching and noise front but on over-stimulation in malls, shops, and she is often labeled as “full-on” or “speedy” by other parents of 2 year olds.

      I read an interesting article from a pead specialized in adoption (French Canadian) who said that babies who are placed in institutions go to a stress level way to difficult to handle by their very immature nervous systems. The stress hormones cortisol and andrenaline are therefore out of balance and as soon as those growing babies /kids are in a (for them) stressful situation, these hormones flare up causing them to behave different than a kid who did not have to deal with “institution stress” at such a young age, would.
      Personally, we started to do yoga with Zoé cause it is great to balance the hormone production … I guess your little Hannah is still a bit too small ;-))
      And we also go to a good homeopath who found an excellent remedy for Zoé who really seems to balance her ….
      To conclude, follow your gut and the feeling that comes up in you when little Hanah behaves like that is probably a good indicator of what she is trying to tell you …
      Good luck and let us know cause I find it very necessary to share info on those topics !! Sophie

      August 6, 2013 at 2:13 pm
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