Thursday, April 28, 2011

Goodbye OT!!

Alex has reached a milestone: he was discharged from OT a couple weeks ago. He went to OT for sensory integration which will always be a challenge for him. His goals were to stop chewing everying, to be able to tolerate smells better, to get a handle on his sensory seeking (the constant jumping and spinning, etc.), and to strengthen his core. (Many kids with sensory processing disorder have weak cores, including Alex.) He also worked a lot on motor planning activities. He was often unable to execute complex motor activities due to poor motor planning. It was interesting to watch him and Sara on playground equipments. She would be up and flipping around in seconds and he couldn't seem to figure out how to do anything.

The discharge does not mean he no longer has SPD or that his sensory issues are resolved. Far from it. We still have plenty to work on at home and he will likely always have issues with sensory processing. However, he has met the goals we set for him when therapy began and he is learning how to compensate for some of his difficulties. For example, instead of jumping mindlessly on the furniture or running back and forth between furniture pieces and slamming himself into them (to get needed sensory input) he has learned to jump on the trampoline or ask to swing on the neighbor's swingset. These are more socially appropriate ways to get his sensory input. He has stopped chewing on all his clothes, sucking his fingers and biting metal objects. We have learned that soda, with its carbonation, gives him the oral input he craves. Not that I love giving him soda, but it is better than having a 7.5 year old who sucks his fingers all day long or chews on metal fences and bleachers. We have learned that the therapeutic listening CDs really calm him, that doing wheelbarrow walking and therapy ball exercises will keep his core strengthened, and that word searches and puzzles help with his visual processing. We continue to work on these at home as well as other exercises and activities.

He continues in speech therapy to help with pragmatic language, otherwise known as social language. Recent testing indicates this is still a problem for him. He particularly struggles with inferencing. In other words, he can't guess what is going to happen, or what someone means unless it is said outright. Even in books for much younger children, he cannot guess what will happen next or tell why someone is doing something unless it is spelled out. He gets humor and sarcasm which is a huge plus. He is actually pretty funny and jokes a lot. I feel lucky about this. Many kids with pragmatic language problems don't understand humor and/or sarcasm. He understands that words can have more than one meaning and that some expressions can't be taken literally (for example: I was laughing my head off.) Again, many kids with pragmatic language disorders don't understand these types of expressions. He doesn't use expressions like these or speak as naturally as a neuro-typical child, but he does usually understand when others use them. Often when he speaks, it sounds like he is struggling to get his words out. He often whispers to himself and repeats words. These are issues that don't seem to be resolving despite 6 years of Speech Therapy and perhaps they never will. I am OK with that. I am so thankful he is able to fully express himself and carry on a conversation with me as there was a time when it didn't seem possible.

So...goodbye for now OT. Can't say I will miss you!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Yellow Card

Today Alex got a "yellow card" at school. This means he was given a warning. When you get to red there is a punishment. I am probably the only mom at my kids' school who was happy about a yellow card. He got the yellow card because he was playing tabletop hockey with another boy during classtime. That makes me ecstatic! Because he was playing with another boy. Because he wasn't obssesed with following the rules (as he is prone to do). Because he was behaving like a typical 7-year-old boy. I couldn't let him know I was "happy". But when he got choked up telling me about it, I let him know that it was OK and I wasn't angry. Because I know it is not likely to happen again. He is proud of his "green card" streak. He is more obsessed with things like that than is normal for a 1st grade boy. So although most moms might be a bit disappointed (as I always was when my older boys behaved that way), I am very proud of that yellow card. And we talked about how the yellow card doesn't take away from all the green cards he has gotten. It's funny how your focus changes when you have a child like Alex. I celebrate the everyday boy things that most parents don't give a second thought to. Yay!! He played tabletop hockey! And he didn't completely fall apart about the yellow card. He wasn't happy about it but he was able to handle it.