Q&A: My Child is Hyperactive

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blockquote_bgI am very concerned about my 2-year-old child. She is very hyperactive, she doesn’t respond to toys or other children, and she would rather be by herself. She only repeats what she hears, and doesn’t ask for what she wants. She can’t eat without assistance. She screams and hits. She is very unbalanced – falling a lot and running into things without trying to stop herself from becoming hurt. When she gets hurt, she doesn’t cry. She constantly has bumps and bruises from where she has fallen or run into something. Please give me any information you can so I can know what is going on with my child.

It sounds as though your little girl keeps you very busy! You mentioned a lot of concerns about your daughter. The most important concern is her safety. If she is running into objects or falling frequently, try to remove any items from the room where she is playing that could harm her. She is under-responsive to pain, meaning she does not register a response to what just happened.

It sounds like she has a strong need to move. This may be vestibular dysfunction, which is a type of Sensory Processing Disorder, meaning that she has trouble processing information from her movement ‘ gravity, balance and space. She is always “on the go” because she is seeking out information and she doesn’t get enough movement. She is bumping and crashing into things because she has a strong need for intense movement sensation. Her brain, and particularly her central nervous system, is craving more information from her body.

Different types of movement may have a “calming effect.” Use the playground swings, sit ‘n’spin toys, an office or dining room chair that spins; sing and spin to “ring around the rosy”; or use a blanket or sheet to make a hammock, while you and another person swing your daughter as she lies inside. Help her to have safe movement opportunities. If you can, make a “crash corner” in your home using a beanbag chair and pillows where she can safely crash and flop herself. If you set this up, she will use it!

You are very observant of your daughter’s behaviors and should have your concerns addressed. Seek out an evaluation or screening from an Occupational Therapist who specializes in Sensory Integration. You can contact the Infant/Toddler Alliance in your area for a free evaluation – you do not need a referral from your pediatrician. Early Intervention services are provided in your home. Services are free and are provided by your state to all children from birth to age 3 who qualify. (Find early intervention contacts in your state.)Ask for an Occupational Therapy evaluation and report on all the behaviors you have shared.