When is it Empathy and When is it Sensory?

This is a question I asked our speech therapist in the Spring of 2017. My daughter was a few months old at the time and if we were in the car when she started to cry, my son, ‘J’ would cry and tell me to help her. When he first did this, I thought it was endearing and a little heartbreaking as well. Although I don’t doubt that those things actually exist, I started to realize it might be more than that. I questioned it more when we were with my niece and if she would cry, ‘J’ would request to “go home” or “go to his room” so he could calm down. I questioned it when we were out to eat with his friend after a playdate and his friend cried because he wanted a toy car. ‘J’ once again would start to cry and ask to leave. One night while laying with him as he fell asleep, I started googling (always an interesting activity) and realized this might be more than just empathy.

As time went on, I noticed how often he seemed overwhelmed in various situations. I also gave it some time to see if it was a phase he had to grow out of. It wasn’t.

He was Woody from Toy Story for Halloween and the back of the costume had velcro. This was the first time he ever seemed bothered by clothing. From then on, he asks for tags to be cut out of his clothes. We visited a drive -thru Christmas light experience, which we thought he would love! As soon as we arrived, he took one look at the large guitar playing lit up snowman and lost it. It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen. I felt like I was watching him experience a real life nightmare.


I started reading more into Sensory Processing and my gut said to seek out an evaluation. With the upcoming holidays and a Disney trip on the horizon, I wanted to make this happen sooner rather than later. Luckily I was able to get the evaluation done before the New Year and before our trip. I started to make notes for the evaluator regarding my concerns and when I was done I had over two pages. I was surprised, but once I thought back to things in the past I had brushed off and the recent months of new experiences we had, there were more than a few red flags.

This week we were approved for Occupational Therapy (OT) twice a week. I’m so happy and can’t wait to start! Seeing how much he’s grown and progressed with speech, I knowbeing in OT and doing exercises at home will help him better process his surroundings.

In recent weeks I’ve done even more research, joined Facebook SPD Parent groups and just started reading ‘The Out of Sync Child’ that I ordered on Amazon. Knowledge is power, right?

Click here to check out a video posted on YouTube explaining Sensory Processing Disorder. The video was posted by MichaelGrass House.

3 thoughts on “When is it Empathy and When is it Sensory?

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