Monday, October 14, 2013

Frustrated with SPD and ADHD

I have said it before and I will say it again, sometimes I think that sensory processing disorder and ADHD are the pits.  Ellie is so driven by her sensory and motor cravings that they are affecting her learning.  Her everyday life.  She is capable of so much and yet, she is impaired by her impulsivity, her lack of attention, and her mouthing behaviors.

I am frustrated.  I am angry.  SPD and ADHD are negatively affecting my daughter.  We live with this day to day and most of the time I accept it as just is.  This is the way life is.  Then, something small (or large) happens and I have a mini-mental breakdown.

notice most the tops are missing from the crayons.
Guess who did that?
Last night I was attempting to cook dinner (I know this cooking concept is shocking).  I am not a great cook and I rely on the crockpot a lot. As in 2-3 times a week.  I just toss everything in, turn it on, and pray that it all turns out.  I often forget about side dishes and I was quite proud of myself for buying fresh green beans and crushing a bit of garlic.  I shall be a good wife yet!

Which brings me to the following:

The TV has become my babysitter.  

I loathe it.  I want her to sit quietly and play, but the kitchen island and table are too tempting for Ellie to climb and so Sofia the First on the TV it is.  As I attempted to saute the green beans and shred the crockpot roast with a fork, Ellie pushes me aside and signs "color".  Now, most of you would think this is a great thing.  Coloring!  A great time occupier!  Developing fine motor skills! A budding artist!

I would give anything to settle my Ellie Bear down with brightly colored crayons and harvest creativity.  Yet, I cannot.  She eats crayons.  I kid you not.  At 4 years-old she still eats crayons.  Not mouths them, but eats them.  A stick of crayon. She actually craves crayons.  They are crunchy and waxy at the same time.  They satisfy some rather intense oral craving that she has.  I cannot leave her alone for even mere seconds with a single crayon because she cannot battle the compulsion.  A five minute crayon session can result in the consumption of 4 whole crayons.  Trust me, I know this.  I must sit directly across from Ellie during a coloring session. (It isn't just crayons.  She bites the tips off of colored pencils, eats chalk, and licks paint brushes and don't even get me started with markers as she not only bites the tips but also gnaws right through the plastic, but crayons are her preferred medium).

I could not even let her color.

chewed up white crayon

So I cried.  Sobbed is more like it.  I felt like an epic mother failure.  What kind of mother forces her child to watch TV when she just wants to color?!  Why can't my kid be like other kids and be able to color?  Sensory issues are robbing my daughter of her creativity.  They are preventing her from learning to color.  Learning to draw even the simple horizontal and vertical lines.  How can she ever learn to write her name or draw a stick person if we cannot get writing implements out of her mouth!? Why must things be so difficult for her?  Will this ever go away?  and will I ever be able to get dinner on the table?

Random Ellie pic:
The family that DIYs together is the family that stays together.

*As I look back over this post, I realize it is more about SPD than ADHD.  I will write more about how ADHD affects Ellie in a later post because believe me, ADHD Bear's biggest battle--affecting day-today living, learning, social relationships, and even speech development.*


  1. We feel your pain. Kimani eats everything... crayons, playdoh, paints... all of it. Half the time she doesn't even fake trying to play with it and just sticks it right in her mouth, the rest of the time I am hand over hand trying to "help" her use them properly. Outside she eats dirt, rocks, pine cones... everything she can get her hands on. In the tub she tries to eat the soap or rubs her hands in the shampoo when I wash her hair and then sucks on her hands. It is heartbreaking. With the guanfacine she is at least more interested in things and sometimes will listen. She was 5 in June... and we are so hoping she grows out of it. I seriously would love to see how she and Ellie would get along!

    1. Pinecones? Ouch! We don't have those here or I am certain Ellie would be eating them too. Kimani and Ellie need to meet up. They would be best of buds! We saw the same results with guanfacine. Let motor seeking too but not much help with the oral cravings. Sadly, Ellie is almost maxed out on the guanfacine but I am so happy it is helping Kimani!

  2. Anna, I am so glad that you wrote this are NOT alone! Madi, too, eats everything! It is so frustrating for everyone involved. I think her OT has just given up on trying to get her to draw lines. Every time we go outside, she is either eating dirt, rocks, sticks, grass, name it. And then we end up with some massive blowout due to all the "extra" fiber and "nutrients" she gets.

    I don't have any suggestions for you, as we are trying to figure it out ourselves. But, please, know that you are NOT alone!!

    1. Oh yes, I have learned that crayons act as a nice laxative while play-doh backs one up. Oh the things I am learning with parenting! Hopefully both our girls will outgrow this soon!

  3. Anna- Try some sensory tools at

    Also, supplementing with B-complex, viatmin E & a good mulit vitamin really helps our daughter. Very claming.

    Particularly the chewy tubes. Hope this helps.

    1. Robin-great minds think alike on the chewy tubes. We have a drawer full of various kinds. Right now Ellie prefers her Chew-Ease, but crayons trump the chewy tubes any day. I will look into additional Vitamin B & E supplementation as well.

  4. When my son was little everything went in his mouth when he was outside. He would chew on sand and it was horrible. I started giving him popcorn kernels to chew on when we went outside. If he had kernels in his mouth nothing else went in. I worried that he would damage his teeth from them, but I figured they had to be better than pebbles. ;)

    And maybe your daughter can learn to write without using writing utensils? How about a "draw and write touch board" from Lakeshore Learning? She can learn how to form letters and shapes with her fingers. And instead of coloring with crayons she could use a "color-changing touch board" also from Lakeshore Learning and color with her hands and feet.

    Stay strong!

    1. Amy, I will be headed to Lakeshore Learning--great ideas! We have a few apps on the iPad for handwriting but her impulsivity and low attention span get in the say--as in she won't even wait for the app to load before she is hitting everything on the screen. I imagine that the color changing tough board would be a big hit.

  5. You know Owen has SPD too. And I want to say that I think there is hope. Owen mouthed everything......his choice of medium though was a book. I remember crying every time he would ruin a board book and I was forced to put in the recycling bin. He enjoyed crayons and markers too, but not nearly as much as he loved gnawing and eating the books. We did everything--chewy tubes, took books away, wouldn't let him have a book if he attempted to chew, only have books out when we could be right there to supervise. And I hated it because he really does love to look at books. I was afraid that he would never learn to read because he couldn't keep his insatiable book hunger down. Sometime earlier this year, he stopped doing it and even became gentle with paperback books. I'm not sure how or even why it happened but it did. He also loved eating play-doh at school and that stopped too. As patient as I've tried to be, it has been SO hard to just wait, but that's all I could do. So I hope that this phase runs out with Ellie Bear and soon. Big, big hugs!

    1. Books!!!!! We had the same problem. We still do to some extent but it has gotten better. I can leave the board books in her room now, but no paper ones. She tears apart paper ones. I am relieved that Owen has gotten past the chewing of the books. Perhaps there is hope yet :)


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