SPD, ADHD and Autism Calming Strategies

By Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND The brain needs a balance between excitatory and calming chemicals to control the body’s activity level. This blog post details Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD and autism calming strategies. A wide variety of chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, modulate the brain’s tendencies toward arousal or calming. Adrenaline (or epinephrine) is an excitatory chemical that helps the body respond to danger by dilating the eyes, speeding up the heart and initiating other functions that prepare the body for fight or flight. If an acute response is not necessary, the body can convert adrenaline to dopamine, another excitatory molecule that improves focus and concentration. Both dopamine and epinephrine are important under the appropriate circumstances. However, if adrenaline is dominant in a preschooler during circle time, he will be unable to settle down. Similarly, if excessive dopamine is present, the result is obsessive, rather than focusing, behavior. At bedtime, when the body tries to cycle into sleep, the brain may…

Sleep Strategies for Autism, ADHD, SPD and Other Developmental Delays

by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND, Co-founder Developmental Delay Resources Sleep disturbances are common in children with developmental and attentional issues because they have trouble recognizing their body’s need for rest, so here are sleep strategies for autism, ADHD, SPD and other developmental delays. Feeling sleepiness apart from all the other incoming information is as difficult as other sensory integration tasks, such as paying attention in a crowded classroom or getting to the bathroom in time. Poor sleep regulation is simply another symptom of the sensory system getting confused and overloaded. Adults with sleep problems are instructed to get more exercise, avoid stimulants and have a regular bedtime.  The same advice works well for youngsters with regulation issues. Providing motor and sensory stimulation during the day in the form of exercise or occupational therapy techniques like brushing, prevents the need to seek out excitement at three o’clock in the morning.   One way the body communicates its unmet needs is by restlessness or…