Could you imagine having a newborn baby whose eyes are staring around most of the day and he is not able to sleep well? This was one of the different sensory signals that my baby boy showed when he was born seven years ago. I was very concerned and I knew that most babies sleep around 16 hours. At that time, his pediatrician used to tell me that babies tend to stir and look restless during sleep because they cannot control their reflexes. She suggested to me to give my son time to adjust in his new world. This explanation was not enough to help me to deal with the sleeping issues of my son. It took him over eight months, before he managed to sleep longer than 15 minutes. I had a camera on his bed to record his sleeping during the night. When I watched the video, I found the longest length of time that he slept without moving was 45 minutes. I was stunned to see how much he tossed and turned and never seemed to be able to get comfortable. I tried a variety of bedtime rituals such as white noise, baths of lavender, essential oils, playing music, singing along and reading. All of these things gave him energy instead of soothing his little body to help him sleep. He slept better on my chest when I hugged him, and held in my arms doing the back and forth motions while I was walking in his room. Besides that, my son constantly burped for one hour after having his bottle of milk, and I held him up on my chest, otherwise he would vomit. When he started eating, his stomach could only tolerate cashews and broccoli.
When my son was ten months old, I went to Lima- Peru and I took him to the Children’s Hospital, highly recognized in the treatment of child development. Here the pediatrician told me that my son showed a neurodevelopmental disorder that was affecting his ability to process information through his senses (touch, taste, smell, sight and sound). On top of that, my son was diagnosed with acid reflux. These problems were called Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Dysfunction.
Later, I came back to Santa Rosa and asked my son’s pediatrician for help, but she told me that an infant cannot take therapy until they are two years old. Meanwhile, she recommended that I read the book “The Out -of-Sync Child” written by Carol Stock Kranowitz. By reading this book, I understood my child’s behavior and his needs. I also found out different types of Sensory Integration Dysfunction that describes how the children processes their environment. With this information, I was able to support my son to improve his sleeping patterns.
There is much more to say about my son’s sensory integration issues. In my next post I promise to share some aspects of his sensory diet that positively impacted his sleep.