SPD Meltdown

She starts crying…lots of stiff, foot stomping crying…crying “mommy, mommy, hold me.” It’s the beginning of a meltdown. Of course, I immediately bend down and scoop up my precious crying babe. But, what’s different about this cry? The cause? It’s sensory processing disorder. It’s a cry and pain that cannot be comforted, a cry that can’t be stopped, a cry that the more you try to comfort and soothe, the more intense and raging it becomes, a cry that is actually more like a blood curdling scream, a continual scream that will only stop when her body has fully let it all out. SPD is holding her hostage in her own body.

I pick up my crying babe just for her to start screaming, “don’t touch me, put me down.” I put her down. She changes her screams of “put me down” to “I want to hold you…hold me, hold me” and this goes on for at least 40 minutes, sometimes much longer. We sit in a chair as she screams and kicks, fighting me, fighting herself the entire time, her body is extremely tight, rigid, stiff. She clings to me for dear life and pushes me away at the same time. We try walking around but it’s extremely difficult to carry her because of the intense kicking. The love that a mama normally pours out for her hurt child–the singing, the caressing, the holding, the kissing, the whispers, the beautiful loving–actually causes my girl to spiral even deeper.

She kicks violently, she slaps my legs until they are red, she frantically rubs her feet together until they are raw and almost bleeding. I try to protect her. I try to hold her feet, separate her feet, anything to keep her from rubbing them together. But, her adrenaline is raging. The child who has hypotonia is just about stronger than her mama. The more I try to stop her, the more persistent and focused she becomes in rubbing her feet. The more I ask her to stop kicking and flopping her legs all over, the more she flails, the more she screams “don’t touch me, hold me, put me down, I want you.”

This will only end when her body, her brain, and neurological system will let her rest, when her disorganized little body can calm long enough to get her grounded.The screaming, kicking, feet rubbing, stomping, pushing, slapping is starting to fade. Her body is exhausted and will finally let her rest. She collapses on my shoulder and her SPD cry turns into an exhausted weep.

It’s over; the meltdown is done. She will weep for a few moments, sit up, and carry on like nothing ever happened. I can still see the exhaustion in her eyes. But, for now, her body is at peace and communicating properly. She hums and skips around as if all is well.

But, this mama doesn’t forget. This mama grieves for the deep, internal wounds my baby girl carries, for her disorganized little insides. This mama grieves that no matter how much I try to comfort her during these times, the more pain it causes her.

Lord, continue to heal our miracle girl, the precious babe you fashioned and created to be our girl, the precious babe you had us fight for, the sweet girl that we are still fighting for. Equip us to help her heal. Show us everything she needs and how we can help her. Amen.


Please visit Stacy’s blog to read 4 Years Living With Sensory Processing Disorder about how they discovered their daughter had SPD and how they have walked through it medically. It’s worth your time. Truly.


Stacy Richards

Paul and Stacy have been married for 15 glorious years. They have been incredibly blessed with 7 miracle children (1 homegrown, 4 open domestic adoptions, 2 china special needs’ adoptions). Their greatest passions are serving the Lord, their children, homeschooling their miracles, and advocating for the orphan. They feel deeply called to raise awareness about the orphan crisis and advocating for orphan children across the world. Follow the journey the Lord has called them to here.

2 Responses to SPD Meltdown

  • Maria says:

    My heart hurts for these children who are hurting so much. It amazes me that the kiddos can get through and move on until the next episode, and the parents are left walking on egg shells. It’s so hard to just relax not knowing if it’s going to be hours or weeks before the next time.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and beautiful family.

  • Kim says:

    I am in OT school right now, also my husband and I have thought of adopting from time to time, so I did my research in grad school on the sensory difficulties and the importance of OT intervention for adopted children. I look so forward to looking through your story when I have a bit more time. This is such an important piece of these kids’ struggles. Thank you for your honesty and sharing.

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