Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oprah Features SPD

After 10 years of trying to get Oprah to do a show on SPD, this is a good thing, right?  That's what we are fighting for- exposure, understanding, and to tell our stories.

It would be a good thing if Oprah's show had gotten anything right. The show was about mental illnesses and children.  SPD is not a mental illness; it is neurological, but not a mental illness.  A mental illnesses are  "conceptualized as disorders of brain circuits likely caused by developmental processes shaped by a complex interplay of genetics and experience."  Insel, T.R.; Wang, P.S. (2010). "Rethinking mental illness". JAMA 303 (19): 1970–1971.doi:10.1001/jama.2010.555  You do not "learn" to have SPD.  It is thought to have a genetic basis, but it isn't learned.  There's not a stressor that can cause someone to develop SPD.  There are not social factors that work with biological factors to make a person develop SPD.  

Maybe the child does have SPD, but SPD will not cause the behaviors that were the basis of the show.  This child was so violent that his mother was terrified of him.  While my heart aches for this mother, this is not SPD.  The child may have been diagnosed with something else that causes this violent behavior, but the show did not specify if this was the case.

It saddens me that with the large viewer base that Oprah has, this might be many of their first impressions with SPD.  Mothers of children with SPD have been educating people and fighting for our children's voices to be heard for years and this is a major set back.  

The SPD Foundation is asking for a grass roots effort of 10,000 letters to Oprah with facts about SPD.  You can go here for information on where to write and some ideas of what to write. 


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Playing The Card

I don't even remember when I told my now eight year old that he had SPD.  OT was always "play" and I tried to never mention SPD in front of him.  While other kids were riding bikes outside, I made sure he never heard me tell another mom that he has low muscle tone and can't ride.  I have been very specific telling his teachers, and especially his gym teacher, never to give him the chance to opt out.  Treat him like any other child and if he just can't do it, please know he's not being defiant.  Always offer the finger paint and the rope ladders and he will try it.

He was about second grade when he finally asked me what SPD was.  I briefly explained it to him what it was and that it just meant that he had to work harder at some things.  I do realize that his SPD is very minor compared to what some children have to overcome, but he still must overcome it and never use it as an excuse.  When he gets frustrated that handwriting is hard or gym class is hard, I tell him he has to work harder than some kids do.

You can imagine how upset I was when he was struggling with dinner and informed me that he can't chew or swallow because he has SPD.  He said it so matter of factly, like it was just a fact of life and not open for discussion.  I was mad!  It took a lot of strength to keep my composure.

He may have SPD, and some things may be more difficult for him, but we will never just accept it.  We will work hard and we will overcome the weaknesses.  It may take weeks and months before he can learn to chew and swallow a food, but we won't stop until he can do it.  It may take him longer to tie his shoes or climb a rock wall at the park, but he will not give up.  He will try until he can accomplish it.

I will not let him give up.  I will not let him use any weakness, SPD included, as an excuse.  He will work harder and I will be there cheering him on every step of the way and celebrating his victories, no matter how small they may seem.  I will do all that I can to make the journey a little easier for him along the way, but he will learn that he has to work hard and he does not have to accept any limitations from SPD or anything else.

Like the Cub Scout Motto- Do your best.  I won't settle for anything less than his best.