Feeling Like I Failed


New Member
I am new to this group. I have a 10 year old daughter with sensory processing disorder (SPD), ODD, and not sure what else at the moment. She is on the go making demands 24/7. My son and I are exhausted. Recently, she tried to stab her brother with a pencil and bit a large chunk out of my arm. After a great deal of thinking and crying I sent her to go stay with my cousin for a while. She only acts like this at home; never at school. I feel like such a failure. . . the worst mom ever.


Well-Known Member
Has she ever been evaluated by a neuro psychcologist (a psychologist with extra training in the brain?). I would. She is not acting like a typyical ten year old and with the sensory issues she could have a form of autism or some other neurological glitch. This would have nohjing to do with your parenting at all. It just means she is wired differently and needs interventions that help her for that rather than just talk therapy. Is she seeing an occupational therapist at least for her sensory issues? How is her speech? Was it ever delayed? Does she understand how to socialize with her same age peers? Does she have any obsessive interests that blot out other interests? Does she know how to have a give and take conversation or does she tend to monologue or just get frustrated when talking and cry or shut down?

I dont think this is a parenting issue or a "bad" girl. I think she has probably not been diagnosed right. ODD is kind of placeholder diagnosis that usually means "she cant behave, but I am not sure why."

I found a neuro psychologist the most pervasive, intensive, accurate diagnostician. My son had been chronically misdiagnosed with ADHD, ODD and (cringe) childood bipolar. Oh the medications they put him on!!!

When he finally got an intensive evaluation (ten hours)and was taken off the medications, we had a nice, bright kid with mild autism who got interventions and is doing very well today, on his own at 23 and very beloved by all. But we had to keep looking for answers until we found the right one. As soon as we got it, he took off fast.
The bipolar diagnoses was the worst. He doesnt even hsve moodswings, but at the time the diagnoses was the flavor of the day...be careful and hugs for your hurting heart. Dont quit.
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Well-Known Member
There is another thread right now called: sensory processing disorder learning materials

While it does not address your issue, you might do a search and turn up old threads that do.

I think you daughter must be experiencing a great deal of frustration that she does not have the coping mechanisms to handle. She is targeting you and your son.

You are personalizing what is happening, as your personal failure. You must understand: any mother would be experiencing what you do. Your response to 24 hour a day stress is normal for your situation, and your sense that living this way is normal too. Every.single.mother would feel the same.

I agree with your response to send her to a family member.

I am wondering what kind of support you can get: does she qualify for Regional Center (I am assuming you are in the USA)?

What kinds of support is she getting from school? I assume she has an IEP. I would call for an emergency IEP because the current educational plan is not working. Clearly if she is acting out like this she is under great stress. She needs the support of a different environment. There should be the possibility of non-public school or residential treatment, which will be paid for by the school district. Including transportation.

My son was in non-public school settings from approximate 6th grade. To one he was transported by taxi 45 minutes to an hour each way.
I was able to get a free attorney provided by a disability rights organization that went with me to the IEP's.

You might want to google "Disability Rights" for children in public school. I do not know where you live and what is available near you.

But school has the legally mandated responsibility to provide an adequate education. Clearly something is not working for her in school. School has to step up.

I would also look into respite for you. Support services for parents of children with disabilities. I would google just that. I would find as many forums as I can (there should be parents' groups for the specific disability.)

My son had behavioral issues from early childhood on; but largely they were at school until he was about 16, when our relationship began to be impacted. He is now 28 and we went through a long, hard time. Our relationship is improving. We are both working on it. There was a time not long ago when we could not bear being together for more than a half hour or so. The cops were always here. He'd call. I'd call. Now we are working things out together.

What you need to understand and accept is this: No other person. No other mother. Could be doing better than you.

Any other mother would be exhausted. Feel hopeless. Feel over her head. Get angry. Frustrated. And sad.

This is a very hard thing you are doing. A hard life you are living right now.

I hope you keep posting. It will help you, I believe. Even though we may not know what to say or what you should do. We will care. And each of us has suffered our own personalized version of what you are going through.

PS I forgot to mention the idea of a "behavioral analysis." There are psychologists that will go to school and come to your house to observe your daughter in these environments, and develop a plan of intervention, to help her modify her behavior. They will teach you and her teachers how to best support her, and to eliminate aggressive behavior and encourage proactive and constructive behaviors.

I would google this and find out how other parents have secured these services. I would go to her pediatrician and get referrals to as many specialists as I can. After reading about this intervention, if you are interested, I would make a plan as to how to get school to pay for it.

As I mentioned, my son is now 28. But when he was about 6 I remember we went to an occupational therapist who did such an evaluation. I cannot remember exactly why. But school paid for it. So that is another professional that could be helpful.

You must be thinking...how in the world can I get school onboard? I got tough. And I got assertive bordering on aggressive. They kind of hated me. (I am a very mild mannered and sweet sort of woman--I turned into an obnoxious and pushy person during those years.)

The last thing I want to say is this: if your other child, son, I think, is being targeted by your daughter, physically or emotionally, this will make the situation much more urgent, obviously, because your son's welfare may be at stake.

Your post does not make clear whether or not you are a single parent (I was.) You may have extended family to help you protect your son (if he is at risk from his sister's acting out.) If not, his vulnerability, too, needs to be proactively addressed. As a last resort I might think about contacting myself, child welfare (but I would first contact an attorney to be sure I knew what the consequences might be.) You might want to ask the organization Disability Rights about legal issues both for advocacy for services, and to protect both children and yourself.

Take care. I am sorry you find yourself in this difficult situation but glad you are here.
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Roll With It
First of all, ((((((((((HUGS))))))))))

I know how hard it is when you are so desperately in need of help with your child and you have to send them to a relative for a while just so the rest of the family can recover for a bit. It really is hard and it breaks your heart. I had to do this with my oldest son at times and when he was 14, I had to accept that it was just too dangerous to have him live in my home and I had to have him go live with my parents. For us this was a great thing and now he is 25. We have a very loving relationship and he is an amazing young man. So there is hope and it truly can get better.

Please know that she falls apart at home because she knows that you will still love her. She holds it together at school and acts well because she thinks/feels/knows that she would be ostracized/bullied if she acted out and her life would be so very hard. But it takes all of her energy and focus and everything in her to keep it together and when she gets home she just literally falls apart. She simply cannot cope with anything. She knows that you love her with every fiber of your being, so she allows herself to just lose it.

As a mom this is HARD. We get ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL the ugly behavior because we give the unconditional love. It means we are doing things right and it totally HOOVERS!

It is time to figure out how to help your daughter develop better coping skills. My son's sensory issues were so bad that he was 9 or 10 before he was able to go to school for the full week. I remember looking at his report card and being so incredibly PROUD that he only missed 1/4 of the days in the 9 week period just the year before, and then suddenly he was only missing 2 days of school in an entire year. It took me insisting for him to stay home those days - he had a fever and was throwing up but he still wanted to go to school! Up to that point, if I sent him to school on a bad sensory day, he just shut down. He would sit there and sort of vibrate, shake back and forth like he was cold only he wasn't. He just couldn't cope with the noise, the lights, the smells, the anything. He would chew on his shirts until the entire fronts were soaked through. I think he was probably 10 before I bought him shirts anywhere but garage sales, or paid more than 50 cents for a shirt because he was just going to chew holes in them.

My son didn't react violently to sensory input, but I know kids who did. Their parents had to find ways to provide the sensory diets they needed so that they could learn to self calm without reacting with rage. I personally have bad sensory issues and they get worse as I get older. The sound of someone chewing, especially with their mouth open, is a major problem for me. Not only does it make me throw up, it sends me into a rage. Listening to a football game also makes me very angry. I have no idea why. I don't like football and it makes no sense to me, but just having it on in the background at a low volume shouldn't induce a huge rage. But it does. So I avoid it like the plague. I especially avoided it when my kids were little because I didn't want to react with rage to them when it wasn't their fault.

Your daughter needs to learn to manage her sensory issues with a sensory diet. I don't know if you have read "The Out of Sync Child" by Kranowitz, but it may be a huge help in understanding your daughter. I strongly recommend getting a copy of it, and also a copy of "The Out of Sync Child Has Fun" by the same author. If you have to get one from the library and buy one, buy the Has Fun book. It is PACKED with activities that provide the sensory input that will help various types of sensory needs and it is also seriously fun. It contains tons of ways to make the activities less expensive and that is always a benefit. The activities will help draw the entire family together - they are fun for everyone, not just your daughter. We actually wore out several copies of this book because my kids loved the activities so much. Every kid in the neighborhood (several neighborhoods as we moved a couple of times) would beg to do activities from the book! Not all the activities wind up the kids, some help with calming. It just depends on what stimuli the child needs.

I don't know if anyone has brought up brushing therapy with your daughter, sometimes called the WIlbarger Technique ? This is taught to you by an Occupational Therapist and is used to help the brain learn to use sensory input. A soft brush, often a surgical scrub brush, is used to brush the body in a certain pattern and then gentle joint compression is used. This actually helps rewire how the brain uses sensory input from the various parts of the body. It has to be taught by an Occupational Therapist (OT) as if it is done over certain parts of the body it can have bad side effects. But otherwise it is very safe, very gentle and very effective. Most children find it pleasant. When we were taught it for use with my youngest, I was told that it worked on young children but not on older ones. I think your daughter would be young enough, given what I was told. But this was ten years ago. I disregarded the age thing and found that it helped my older children quite a bit also. (My entire family has significant sensory issues, we just figured we were strange.) In fact, my daughter was in the 'helper' stage and insisted on brushing Mommy, which the Occupational Therapist (OT) thought was cute and harmless. It was harmless, in fact I found that it actually helped quite a lot. I found that MY sensory issues actually improved.

I would recommend this but I recommend using a private Occupational Therapist (OT). The school Occupational Therapist (OT) only cares about what impacts behavior at school. A private Occupational Therapist (OT) is far more comprehensive and looks at the child's entire life and what impacts all of her behavior and life. So the treatment plan is vastly more complete and helpful in my opinion and experience. If you get an Occupational Therapist (OT) that isn't this way, find another one.

I do TOTALLY agree with changing your daughter's IEP because something at school has her completely stressed out or she wouldn't be falling apart at home. You can get an educational advocate by contacting the state department of education. This advocate is FREE to you and is a HUGE help with IEPs and anything else with the school.

None of this is your fault. Your daughter is wired differently. Her brain works differently. She needs to be taught how to handle this and it can be tough at times. But that is NOT your fault. You have to balance her needs with your son's needs and your own needs. Those are all EQUALLY important. Your daughter's needs are not more important than anyone else's, and that can be easy to lose sight of during times of crisis.

It really isn't your fault.