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How Occupational Therapy Helped Our Child with SPD and ADHD

Why should we care about SPD? My daughter, Natalie, has both ADHD and SPD. Many kids with ADHD do, too.

Jennifer Choi’s blog, Can Mom Be Calm?, is one I visit often. Jenn recently interviewed Dr. Lucy Miller, an expert on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Jenn talked to Dr. Miller about how to find an occupational therapist with expertise in treating sensory integration issues to work with our children.

ADDitude is all about ADHD, right? Why should we care about SPD? My daughter, Natalie, has both ADHD and SPD. Many kids with ADHD do, too. Here’s a quote from an article, “When ADHD Might Be Something Else”, by Priscilla Scherer, from this very website:

The two conditions don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but they often do. “Many neurological problems overlap,” explains educator Carol Stock Kranowitz, author of The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Integration Dysfunction. “Often, a child who has dysfunction in one area will have dysfunction in others.” The correlation of ADHD and SPD symptoms is shown by a new national study of children ages 2 to 21 done at the University of Colorado. Parents reported that, of children who showed symptoms of either ADHD or SPD, 40% displayed symptoms of both, according to Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D., director of the Sensory Processing Treatment and Research (STAR) Center at the Children’s Hospital in Denver.

Wow, 40%! That’s a pretty high number.

When Natalie began occupational therapy, we were, through blind luck, matched up with Summer Barber. Summer introduced me to the concept of SPD. She recognized Natalie’s sensory issues immediately, and treated her accordingly. After some time, she made arrangements for Natalie to complete the Sensory Integration & Praxis Test with another O.T. She used the results to focus the next phase of Natalie’s treatment.

As I said, finding Summer was blind luck. I didn’t, as Dr. Miller suggests, ask to see her resume, or ask her philosophy of treatment. I didn’t know enough to do so! Sometimes, fate intervenes, and you just get the right match on the first try. Here’s how “right” Summer was for Natalie: she did her master’s thesis on the needs of kids adopted from orphanages in Russia. Bingo!

As I’ve said before, Summer has been one of the most effective, helpful, knowledgeable, understanding…and on, and on, and on… professionals I’ve had the pleasure to deal with since Natalie came along.

But, for those of you who are still looking for a good O.T., check out Jenn’s blog. For more information about SPD, visit the SPD Foundation. To learn about SIPT, visit Western Psychological Services, the test’s publisher.

Updated on September 15, 2017

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