"Today she enjoys her hugs and kisses"
Vanessa Jansen van Vuuren tells us how she knew something was wrong with her little Erin, which was confirmed when she was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder.

"My little girl was not like the other babies in our post-natal mothers group, she did not like to be rocked, cuddled and had never fallen asleep in my arms like all the other babies. When we tried to cuddle her and give her hugs, she would arch her herself backwards and wriggle and squirm and eventually start moaning and crying.

"Trying to rock her asleep in my arms would have the same affect and this hurt the most as a first-time mom, it felt as if my baby ‘did not like me’. All my husband and I would long for is for her to fall asleep in our arms so we could cuddle her and be close to her.

"This went on for a few more months, and I even did the good old ‘guilt trip’. Before Erin was born my husband and I had decided that we would try getting her into a routine as soon as possible and that we would not rock her to sleep. So from the day she was born we encouraged her to self-soothe and never rocked her to sleep. So as her sensory processing disorder reared its head a few months later (at this point it was undiagnosed) I started to blame myself for not cuddling and rocking my baby in her early days.

"After chatting to a lady whose daughter had been diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder, I decided to do a bit of my own research on the internet. Lo and behold, the ‘symptom checklist’ was describing my little Erin through and through. It was at this point that I made contact with the occupational therapist.

"At our first appointment she performed a few routine tests on Erin and she diagnosed her instantly as having a sensory processing disorder. Sensory processing disorder is made up of a few sub-categories and Erin was diagnosed as being tactile defensive and having a vestibular dysfunction. This basically means that when someone touches her, she feels something completely different so hugging to her felt like someone was squeezing her.

"So my motherly instinct was correct and her occupational therapist reassured me that it was not my fault. She would have been born with it as it is a disorder that develops while still in the womb. The good news was that this disorder is almost 100% curable.

"It took a lot of hard work and dedication on our and her nanny's behalf to make the treatment work, but within 7 days we saw such a huge difference in her allowing us to hold and cuddle her. After 2 weeks we were re-assessed and her occupational therapist was well pleased with her progress.

"Today our little Erin is 15 months old and is doing very well. Although she still refuses to sleep in anyone’s arms, she enjoys her hugs and kisses and even offers them out of her own free will! It has not been easy, and she still battles with eating – she won’t eat food with lumps in, it makes her gag so badly she ends up vomiting. We are working on this part of her disorder and she is making some good progress."

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