Almost overnight, his once wide range of tastes became very narrow. He cut off most food with the exception of foods with sharp, pungent tastes (extra sharp Cheddar and Parmesan cheese, natural peanut butter, and ketchup) and crunchy textures (bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, grapes, romaine lettuce hearts). We thought he was experiencing the “picky eater” stage and would soon outgrow it and become the grazing omnivore once more.
Montessori Education for Children With Sensory Processing DisorderTwelve years later, I am surprised to say that not much has changed. Another thing happened about this time. I started noticing when we went to the park, he always begged to go on the swing, but then immediately wanted off. As he grew older, he preferred swinging by lying on his tummy; he never wanted to sit upright. He became fearful of unknown staircases and escalators, refusing to go on them unless he was held. Learning to roller skate and ride a bike were difficult, too. As much as he wanted to be like the other children, he just couldn't do it. He complained about being ‘tired’ and wanting to be carried on short outings. Again, I wasn't worried – I stayed true to the philosophy of Montessori and followed my child. After all, he knew better than I what his needs were and there were so many other, more important issues.
It wasn't until the summer of fourth grade when an acquaintance started telling me about her work as an occupational therapist did I begin to question what was shaping my son’s world. She asked if I had ever had heard of Sensory Integration Dysfunction (now referred to as Sensory Processing Disorder). I had to admit that I had not. She gave me a copy of Carol Kranowitz’s book, The Out of Sync Child. What I read described my child to a “T”.
Children who React Differently
As Montessori teachers and parents, we have the opportunity to interact with many different children. Each child is unique, with their own individual personalities and ‘quirks’. However, some seem a bit more ‘quirky’ than others. There is the child who:
- refuses to wear socks no matter what weather because they make her feel ‘trapped’
- covers his ears as if in pain at the slightest noise (vacuum, telephone, airplane overhead)
- wears her clothes inside out because the seams are so rough and irritating to her skin
- must lay his head down all the time
- is ‘too tired’ to walk by himself
- can’t stand to be held, hugged, or touched, or conversely, needs to be held and touched all the time
- must always have something to chew on, even after outgrowing the “oral” stage of development
- gets carsick 5 minutes after leaving the house
- is repulsed by rough/sticky/wet/soft clammy sensations
- gags on food of different textures/temperatures/tastes
- has a sense of smell that is far more developed than anyone else around
- doesn't realize he’s been hurt or is bleeding
- spins for hours without ever getting dizzy
- is extremely sensitive to light and prefers playing in semi-dark to dark rooms.
- Montessori Education: Sensory Processing Disorder Part 2 of 4
- Montessori Education: Sensorial Activities for Sensory Integration – Part 3 of 4
- Montessori Education: Practical Life Activities for Sensory Integration – Part 4 of 4