Sensory Processing Disorder and Migraines

sensory processing disorder awareness

Welcome back!  I hope everyone had a great holiday. We did, although it was quiet because of illness. We had some great family together, which is important.  We also dealt with a few things over the holidays concerning monkey and his disabilities which is why I want to talk to you today.

A lot of people don’t understand when I tell them monkey has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and many believe monkey is just acting up to act up because he’s six which isn’t the case. There are issues regarding SPD (real issues) that many people call excuses.

SPD Facts

  • Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses.
  • Sensory Processing Disorder is a complex disorder of the brain that affects developing children and adults.
  • At least one in twenty people in the general population may be affected by SPD.
  • In children who are gifted and those with ADHD, Autism, and fragile X syndrome, the prevalence of SPD is much higher than in the general population.
  • Sensory Processing Disorder has unique sensory symptoms that are not explained by other known disorders.

New Years day monkey woke up with another migraine and this time it was bad. He immediately began vomiting and refused to drink anything.  So off to the ER we went.  It was like a full moon I tell you. The hospital was super busy.

Now monkey is no stranger when it comes to hospitals. He’s been poked and prodded since he was born, being a Children’s Hospital baby and them not knowing what was initially wrong with him before we got his diagnosis of mild CP, early onset bipolar disorder and SPD.  Still, as parents it is never easy to see your child in pain, ill and not knowing the underlying cause of their discomfort.

After waiting for over 9 hours and finally getting a referral to see a ped’s specialist. I began wondering if monkey’s SPD was somehow linked to his getting migraines.  He’s sensitive to light and sounds and perhaps too much gaming or watching tv is causing a connection between SPD and his headaches.

Symptoms of SPD our monkey suffers from

  • Problems eating and sleeping
  • Refusing to be left alone with anyone but myself or dad
  • Irritable when getting dressed (although this has gotten much better with age)
  • Sensory with clothing and materials (again this is getting better)
  • Resists cuddling, arching away when being hugged
  • Motor delays
  • Over sensitive to loud noises (wears ear phones in school) to help with concentration
  • Sensitive to smells, other people and foods
  • Difficulty at times making friends
  • Sometimes in everyone’s face and space
  • Frequent tantrums when things don’t go right
  • Easily overwhelmed
  • Unaware at times of pain or other people

I don’t know if migraines are linked or not. We have an appointment this week to see a specialist so I will keep everyone posted. If your child has SPD though and are getting migraines, don’t leave it. It’s not common for young children to suffer with severe migraines and there could be an underlying problem. So be sure to get it checked out!

Thanks for reading!

Comments

  1. says

    Hey, just wanted to say hi – I'm an adult with SPD, and I suffered with it undiagnosed as a child. I've recently realized that when I was a preteen, I used video games and television to help me manage my sensory input – it's counterintuitive, but having several video screens on at once was soothing to me, and attempting to live the west coast ideal of less video input has actually made things worse for me. Something to consider!

    • says

      My son uses the ipad a lot or laptop it calms him down so I have to agree with you. He loves things that are visual, but recently he's been able to explore more of his surroundings outside, which has been nice. Thanks so much Jesse for sharing our input and visiting us :)

  2. L. says

    I have had sensory issues my entire life that I always thought were related to migraines. If I have to drive with a migraine my sensitivity to the sound of honking or people changing lanes in front of me or any kind of movement can cause me to have sensory overload to the point that I have to pull over for a few minutes to calm down. I get migraines with weather changes.

  3. Jessica J. says

    I found your site when I googled SPD and migraines. I have always believed my daughter's migraines and SPD are linked somehow. She was diagnosed with severe chronic migraines at 15 months old and SPD at 22 months (after some battle). Hers seem to worsen if she accidentally eats too much gluten, gets overtired, watches too much TV, is dehydrated, gets overwhelmed (by anything or nothing), and WEATHER. Every single time the weather changes it brings on a migraine. We're in Michigan and the weather changes from winter and snowflakes to sunny and 70 within the same day, so she and I both really suffer.

    Have you noticed any weather/pressure changes affect Monkey the way they do Sophia? Interested to see and hear what you've tried to relieve his pain. Does he miss school because of them?

    ~Jess

    • says

      Hi Jess, yes definitely. We get a lot of rain and cold damp weather here, and then it switches to a higher and warmer temperature and that can bring on a migraine for Trace. I also notice when he's on my iphone or ipad too much watching netflix on a small screen, he really gets it bad. Trace is a picky eater so I haven't noticed the gluten affecting his headaches, yet. He just missed three days because of it this week, and to help the pain because he throws up a lot! We give him gatorade for the electrolytes and lots of popsicles, plus I give him both Tylynol and Advil about an hour apart which the emerge doctor said to do, it works so much better than just one dose of something. The other thing that truly helps is Trace has sunglasses he wears to school or in the house when the pain is bad, because bright lights bother him so much. His teacher and class is awesome, they dim the lights for him and he wears his glasses all day at school.

      Thanks for sharing your daughter's story. It's important we spread the word on this because my doctor doesn't always think there is a link between SPD and headaches but the more research I do, the more I gain understanding and stories like yours helps other readers searching for answers to let them know they are not alone!

  4. says

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Jodi. I wasn't aware of most of the things you mentioned. Very good to know! My friend is going through this with her daughter, so it's great for me to get a better understanding. Passing on this info to her so she can bookmark it and use your posts as reference. xo
    Christine recently posted..Very Excited for 2013! #TeamBlackBerry

  5. says

    I have been researching this for several months as our daughter has been showing some of these symptoms for a while now (sensitive to smells, noise and certain types of clothing). We noticed it during our previous trip to Disney. She was screaming and crying about it being too loud and some restaurants being too stinky :(

    She has been making the same comments at home too when we are out and about and at school (music class and gym class is very overwhelming for her). I will be following up soon with her doctor and looking for headphones to reduce noise (she requested it).

    I really want to help her and hope to figure this out soon with our family doctor.

  6. says

    We are just starting this journey with my son. Tomorrow we go for a CAP test and then we see our doctor next Friday. He is very sensitive to smells, noise, and several other symptoms which you listed. I think you'll be a great resource for me as I learn more about this

    • says

      Awww sorry Pam, but glad you are getting help. Let us know how it goes and yes check back as we begin a journey to bring more awareness to this disorder.

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