The road to discovering SPD

Ever since Jay was a baby I knew my boy was special. Baby boy had energy like no other, he chewed and bit EVERYTHING, broke all his toys, and always had the need to touch and be touched. I never mind any of it, I enjoyed and loved every stage and every phase but I’m not raising my boy for myself, but for the world.

When Jay turned fifteen months I enrolled him in a learning center and every other day there was a complaint. It was heartbreaking listening to his teachers label my fifteen month old as “terrible” and a “trouble maker”

Jay has a sparkle in his eyes and a contagious laugh. He loves meeting new people and making friends. He goes crazy for animals and knows amazing details and facts about them! He’s GREAT at basketball! All he wants to watch and talk about is basketball and he asks to train and practice everyday! TO BE HONEST, it’s annoying but I admire how determined, passionate, dedicated, and persistent he is.

SPD doesn’t mean you’re stupid but it does mean you learn differently! Jay is so smart and learns in chunks, I call him a genius everyday. His first language was Spanish, and picked up English quickly. He’s fluent in both languages and is currently working on a third one. Math is his favorite subject, and he’s so good at it! The boy does math in his head, it’s impressive! Writing on the other hand has been a struggle. Jay loves to read and has no issue with letter or word recognition (it wasn’t always that way) but writing and holding a pencil has been a journey!

During his two year checkup I made sure to mention to his pediatrician in Miami my concern with ADHD, SPD, and even Autism. My concern was completely ignored because he was two. By age three Jay was introduced to the world of writing the traditional way, with paper and pencil. For him, this traditional learning style was one that made him feel nervous, anxious, and uncomfortable. As a mom, and as an educator I had to get to the root of the problem and work on it immediately. To feed my curiosity and better understand, I started planning, researching, and decided to start my own experiment based on observations, but in the meantime, I made it clear to his caregivers at the time “HE WOULD NOT BE BE FORCED TO HOLD A PENCIL.”

Once we relocated to Colorado I brought the topic up to his pediatrician and once again I was told “He’s too young.” After that appointment I made the decision to homeschool my boys. When I first started working closely with Jay I immediately realized he was behind on letter sounds, letter recognition, and of course, letter formation.

That’s how this all started; Preschool with mama. I started working on multi-sensory activities with Jay and decided to share those activities with other moms, turns out many of them knew exactly why I was pushing so hard for sensorial activities without me saying a single word about it.

•Multi sensory: relating to or involving several physiological senses.

Multi-sensory learning is helpful for ALL children because all kids have different learning styles. This is especially true when it comes to teaching children to correctly form letters. With each sense that is engaged while learning to write letters, the brain is given an additional opportunity to remember and “integrate” the information so it is available for the future.

• Letter practice that involves tactile (touch) and proprioceptive (muscle resistance, vibration) sensory input allows the brain to process and remember the motor patterns based on information directly from the skin and muscles.

• Letter sounds (sounding out letters while writing or singing songs about letter formation) reinforces motor patterns based on auditory memory.

• Letter practice that involves visual engagement with letter formation (watching the steps modeled, using various colors and different-looking materials) reinforces letter formation based on visual memory.

Smell is the sense that is most strongly associated with emotional memory, so letter practice that involves smell (scented materials) can engage not only the olfactory system but also emotional memory (positive or negative experiences) as children create memories of working on letter formation.

My biggest priority as a mom is that my boys never have to recover from their childhood. My biggest priority as an educator has ALWAYS been getting to know each child individually, only then I feel like I can help them excel and succeed. As a mom and educator the thought of having other moms and educators quit on my son is heartbreaking because I have never given up on a child who has been brought my direction. Not even on the ones who have asked for my love and attention in the most unloving ways. Be kind, always. Children are our future.

Teach! Learn! Enjoy!

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