Overwhelming Love: Our SPD Story

“I believe it might be Sensory Processing Disorder.”

Those were the words from the school psychologist referring to my son. I knew something was wrong. He obviously had some challenges we had never picked up on before the last couple of months.

But let me back up a little…

My sweet four-year-old son, whom we’ve affectionately referred to as “Bubby” his whole life, has always been very energetic. Even when he was in the womb, I was pretty convinced he was performing all-out gymnastics routines in my belly. The feet were always going, the hands were always touching, the eyes darted from one thing to another in a frenzy of activity.  But we just assumed that was usual infant/toddler/preschooler “all boy” behavior.

Overwhelming Love: Our SPD Story
It wasn’t until he started three-year-old preschool in a traditional classroom that we realized that maybe there was more. He had always been just fine in daycare, but the regular classroom made a difference. He was acting out in ways we had never seen or experienced, and we just couldn’t figure out why. Without getting into much detail, the bad days far outweighed the good, and eventually we had to pull him out of what had been my dream school for him and put him back into daycare. I can’t even put into words how difficult and frustrating these days were, but I’ve never cried or prayed so much in my life as I did during that time. I spent so many nights by his bed as he slept, soaking my shirt in tears as I begged God to help him, to help us. And, so far, I just didn’t see any real answers.

But I knew that wasn’t the end, and this mama was going to find out what was going on with my boy. The first step, I believe, was to realize the difference between him giving us a hard time and him having a hard time. We missed it so many times, and still do.  But I knew there was more than just a behavior issue. Something was going on in his brilliant little brain.

I began with our local school district and set up testing for him that included a hearing and vision test and a screening with a school psychologist and a speech language pathologist. He was off the charts developmentally and academically, but as I explained to the school psychologist what we had been experiencing, and she noted some behaviors in him herself, the logical explanation for her was Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

Photo credit: Marian Ashley Photography

We still had to fill out a behavior checklist. And then we needed a referral from our pediatrician to an occupational therapist. And then the occupational therapist had to evaluate him for an official diagnosis. But my research on the subject was immediate and fully involved. The information available was vast and immeasurable (thanks, Google). Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to finally be getting somewhere in figuring everything out, but I was completely overwhelmed with this potential diagnosis. My brain was fried and I found it hard to even breathe.

Then I remembered something that the psalmist David said in a similarly distressing moment.

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” – Psalm 61:2 (KJV)

God had brought us to this place. He made my boy, and He loves my boy more than I ever could. And – HELLO! – He was actually answering those tear-soaked prayers I had cried out to Him. In all of those overwhelming moments – and there were many – He saw each tear and heard each desperate cry. And He was answering, maybe not in the way I thought He should, but when does that ever happen? Rarely is the path to an answered prayer without its challenges.

My overwhelmed heart and scattered brain began to calm, knowing that my Father, Who controls the entire universe, by the way, was in control of this moment, this disorder, this road on which He was leading us.

Just in case you were wondering, our Bubby is making amazing progress.  He is in occupational therapy every other week and we are just taking everything a day…no, a moment…at a time and doing everything we can to help him succeed. He’s incredibly smart and witty and definitely keeps us on our toes – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. He will be starting 4K in the fall, in a regular classroom, but I am not afraid. He will not be going to the “dream school” I had planned for him, but I am not disappointed. I’ve learned God’s dreams for my life and for my family are so much greater than my own. So I’m just going to trust Him on this one.

Love in Christ,

she who has believed




NOTE: For those of you who may be wondering, “What in the world is SPD?” – here is one of the best explanations I have found for it online: Signs & Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder.

I shared this blog post in the Salt & Light Link Up.

22 Replies to “Overwhelming Love: Our SPD Story”

  1. Oh sweetie do I understand ! What a wonderful mother you are for not just accepting that he was “bad”. I fight this daily for people to see my sweet boy as the precious kid he is and not see him in a negative light. Your baby will become so strong bc of your willingness to help him navigate his way through this. Big hugs!!!

  2. Edie, I have enjoyed knowing him and taking care of him since Bed Babies Nursery and always knew there was a fantastic mother-son bond you two had as well as love you have always shown for him. He is a great little boy and I am looking forward to seeing all the great things God will do through him as he grows. Thank you for sharing your heart to those you know care for you and your family/

  3. Edie, I’m so glad you got a diagnosis for him while he is so young!! Jenna has APD(auditory processing
    disorder) and we didn’t get a diagnosis until she was in 7th grade
    :(. It’s been difficult learning to parent a child with this but it’s definitely made me rely on God more! She did speech therapy once a week for a year and it made an INCREDIBLE difference!!! I often feel like a failure as a parent but I always try to apologize to her when I lose my patience with her. You know the best part ….. APD affects her memory, so many times when I apologize she doesn’t even remember what I’m apologizing for !! 😊 God is good to allow her to forget my failures! Hang in there I’m sure God has big plans for your sweet little guy!! Much love, Sharon

    1. Thank you, Sharon! I did not know this about Jenna. One major component of his SPD is auditory, and it’s a struggle to know if he’s not listening or just not processing what he’s being told. I appreciate your encouragement!

      1. Oh we still struggle everyday with knowing how much of what we are saying is being understood . All I can do is ask God may it clear and trust Him with her future! Your posts are encouraging to me as well!!! Thank you Edie!💗

  4. What a blessing that you have found resources to help your family. And how great it is that you’ve figured some of this out so early.
    We will be praying for all of you. Remember you are not alone. Your blog is definitely going to help others!
    Mary Lu 😀

  5. Wow Edie,
    I work on a special needs bus twice a day; home to school and school back to home. I love these children. My son for 44 plus years struggled with ADHD since birth and it took us 5 years to get a diagnosis his father and his fathers side of the family were in total denial of anything being wrong. Daycare was even was a huge struggle for him and myself. His father walked out on us when he was 5 and we divorced when he turned 6. It was the hardest struggle of my life. I had to raise him by myself. His father (in denial throughout those remaining years) just pulled away from him. All the way until he was 21. He never knew when he would see his father who was very spuratic with his visitation. At one point it was 9 years before they even spoke to each other. Even with my assurance his father loved him he still had his doubts and deep heartache and didn’t know how to handle it on his own. He dearly loved his father in his primary years (when we were married) and after we divorced he could not understand why his father didn’t treat him like I did. I had to be very strict on structure for him; even if it meant I had to give up a lot of things for his security. With my mother and her continual prayers and my other family members, we have made it thus far.
    I remarried when he was 21 and this man tucked him under his wing as though he was his own son. Something my son desperately needed. His step dad was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident.
    This accident drew him and his natural father back together as well as drew us all closer together. I was injured but survived. I know God allowed me to live for the sake of my son. Using me as a catalyst between him and his fathers broken relationship to bring them back together as a father and son should be. This relationship is very strong now. It was a 10 year prayer that my son and I prayed daily for and God answered. He still struggles with his diagnosis of ADHD today. And I still have to structure things for him when we’re together. He lives on his own and works with an awesome boss who understands his issues. I see a lot more issues we were having and many he still struggles with when I read your link you posted. Some he wasn’t diagnosed for but the signs, symptoms and signals were, and some still are, there today.
    He does odd things and to him that’s what is best suited for him, although it may or many times may not be in his best interest.
    I feel like I have an edge on many people as I deal with these school children and see different children with more than one special need. I go back to what the psychiatrist and psychologist taught my son and I in his years of need and apply it where it is needed and respect their differences. I’m actually the monitor and in charge of keeping peace throughout the trips from home to school and school back to home, so the bus driver can focus on her stops and getting our children to school and home as safely as possible. These kids need that same structure even when they’re not in the classroom structured for them. It is sometimes disheartening when you have parents who don’t accept their child’s diagnosis and needs or they just don’t get what is actually going on with their child.
    I am so proud of your being such a caring and diligent mother and dad in searching and researching a resolve for your precious Buddy.
    My walk with Christ wasn’t as strong as it needed to be then, but I, like you just kept praying. God answered my prayers and He will answer you and see you through any and every crisis. Over the past 23-24 years my walk with Christ has become so much closer with Him and I give Him all the glory, praise and honor for where my son and I are today.
    He is my Rock, my Refuge, my Strongtower and is my Everything I need for every minute of every day. His grace has brought me this far and I know He will see me through.
    Keep singing His praises as I know you do when I see you in the choir and in the praise team. He will lead you through, even when you think you are sinking and cannot go any further. Keep giving Him His glory. He is faithful.

  6. I’m glad you were able to figure out what exactly it was your son needed. I can only imagine how difficult this path has been for your family, but am glad to hear your son is making amazing progress! I hope he has an amazing experience at the school he will be attending.

    1. Thank you! We are very blessed, as we know it could be much worse, and our faith has helped us through the challenges.

  7. It’s so hard to trust God is giving us good things when the things we’re dealing with don’t fall under our definition of good. As a special needs momma, it can be so tough. Thankful you have the Lord to lean on.
    Just ignore me if this isn’t helpful, but I know someone that has seen great strides in her son with sound therapy through this institute. http://ishim.us
    Keep loving on that sweet boy!

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement. Some days are better than others, but you are right, I couldn’t do any of it without the Lord to lean on!

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