Monday, April 14, 2014

Sensory Stuff and OT Awesomeness

I've known Kiddo had some sensory processing issues for a while, and I read a few books on it.  The books say to take your child to an OT (occupational therapist) for an evaluation and treatment, and so I did.  I told them that I knew Kiddo had SPD (sensory processing disorder).  But they (and I say 'they' because we've worked with two different OTs) both focused only on his fine motor skills.  Which I realize is an aspect of OT, but not really what I wanted help with.  OT #1 we worked with for 6 months.  She worked on finger and hand strengthening (using tweezers, clothespins, playing with theraputty, etc) and finger dexterity (stringing beads, playing games, etc).  We then switched to OT #2 which I did not have to pay for anymore, as we saw her through the school system and we see once a month.  She has been working with him on scissor skills (Kiddo can cut a piece of paper in half) and writing skills (he can now draw circles, crosses, and several letters, including most of the letters of his name independently.)

Now, don't get me wrong, this is all good stuff.  But Kiddo cannot do a lot of physical things like jump and climb and pedal a bicycle and walk up a curb without needing to hold on to someone's hand.  And all the physical therapy we've been doing hasn't really been helping a lot with that but I've read that OT could.  So I knew we needed to find an OT who could help us.

And then, my apraxia mom friend in the area told me about a new OT clinic.  And so I got the referral from our pediatrician and scheduled the appointment.  And then we went and I was BLOWN AWAY.

The eval was very thorough.  I filled out a packet of info about how Kiddo responded to certain situations and when he met certain milestones (all of them late except for stacking blocks. Sigh) while the OT watched how Kiddo did certain things in their sensory clinic.  The next week she gave me a copy of the eval: a whopping 7 pages, even longer than our speech eval at GWU where he got the official diagnosis of severe apraxia.

Anyway, here's the results of his evaluation based on each system that effects Kiddo:

Tactile system: Responsible for interpreting touch.  Kiddo is undersensitive: he doesn't notice when he has a messy face, and has poor grasp on utensils, crayons etc, as well as difficulty dressing and undressing due to this undersensitivity.  He also has a fairly high pain tolerance--he's had blood drawn multiple times and he doesn't even flinch when they do it.  He watches fascinated, the nurses and I are always amazed.  But Kiddo is oversensitive when it comes to his ears.  He doesn't like water or wind in his ears.  Washing his hair isn't the most pleasant experience, nor is driving with the windows down.  But he no longer covers his ears and starts crying whenever the wind starts blowing.  OT diagnosed him with moderate tactile issues.

Auditory system: Responsible for interpreting sound.  Kiddo is oversensitive, despite his hearing loss.  Vacuum cleaners, blenders, leaf blowers, weed whackers, etc used to terrify him.  He's gotten much better about that if he has warning that they are about to start.  OT diagnosed him with mild auditory issues.

Proprioceptive system: Responsible for understanding body position without using eyes.  This totally explains why Kiddo has such a hard time climbing things and on the playground.  Also explains why he dislikes swings and slides and when Daddy picks him up and swings him around.  OT diagnosed him with severe propioceptive issues.

Vestibular system: Responsible for discriminating movement in space--works with the proprioceptive system to regulate muscle tone, balance, postural control, bilateral movement (side to side) and eye-hand coordination.  Again, explains why playing is such hard work for him.  OT noticed the way he transitions from sitting to standing, from lying to sitting, and from standing to sitting all indicate severe proprioceptive issues.  The way the OT described it to me was that his vestibular system was very immature, like that of a 22 month old, and so the way he moved around would look like that of the average 22 month old.  Talk about a punch in the gut, but it really does explain so much.  Little Brother, at 20 months, will soon be passing him in both speech and gross motor skills, but that is another blog post for another time.  The following picture I found on Pinterest really helped me understand the vestibular issues better.  Kiddo is most definitely a vestibular avoider.

Our awesome OT now works with Kiddo once a week for thirty minutes, and they're the most amazing 30 minutes I've ever witnessed.  Finally, I feel like we're on the right track and getting him the help he's been needing for a while regarding his gross motor delays.  Here's a pic of the sensory clinic where Kiddo works with his awesome OT.

There's a huge ball pit she has him wade through, bringing pillows from one side of the ball pit to the other.  Then he climbs out, stepping through each of those big tires.  Then he swings for a little while on a little platform swing, which you can't see in the picture, then he climbs up the tires and wooden steps to get a hanging monkey and brings it down.  Then, he goes over to the ramp, climbs up it, walks across the suspended bridge and down the slide.  Most exhausting obstacle course ever for him, but he's getting so much better each time and I've seen such good progress.  She also works on different things with him once the obstacle course is completed until our time is up.  It goes by too quick for me, but Kiddo is chatty but exhausted by the time the 30 minutes is up and he takes a good long nap afterward.  I love OT days. :)

As if finally addressing all these issues isn't awesome enough, we've had a little bonus.  Kiddo's talking more often, and the OT says that usually happens as a child's sensory system regulates.  She says in her experience, a lot of children with speech delays and disorders have a speech explosion after they start OT.  I'll gladly take it.  Finding this therapist has been such a blessing and I truly praise God for bringing her into our lives.

I'll leave you with a video of the boys playing.  I honestly don't think Kiddo would have attempted "jumping" into the ball pit like this before OT.  He probably would have crawled over the pool and played a little bit and then would be done.  But he and Little Brother did this over and over and over again, for about an hour. :)

1 comment:

  1. Jen I am so happy you found this place! I wish I could find a place like this for Olivia. It looks like Nancy's sensory room at her center. I have heard OT before speech can be amazing. So happy for you! Sounds like he is really doing great!