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!!


  1. Aw Kris, this is awesome. Sounds so positive and Im happy for that. It's overwhelming to read all the challenges Alex faces yet so heartening to read about the progress. Good for you both!

  2. It must feel so good for him to have met his OT goals! Way to go Alex (and mom)!

    How awesome
    Glad you are going to continue to provide sensory supports at home - but so glad he does not need to go to OT anymore

  4. Congratulations on losing the O/T, that is really great! Isn't it cool how many things you can do right at home? Our son chews gum and I agree with what you said about soda, it might not be your first choice but if it works, I'll go with it.

    And we are struggling with pragmatic language, too. Our son is 4. Thank goodness we have a team who understands the subtleties of these issues. It sounds as though Alex has made wonderful progress though. His sense of humor will undoubtedly help him get through many things!

  5. Kris, I've just read this and was really pleased for you and Alex (and about the yellow card). You must be too!