In my last post I mentioned that Noah has taught me that age three can be wonderful. Three was an extremely frustrating age in my past experiences so I expected the same with him. Imagine my surprise when his third birthday came and went and he was still this cool kid, actually even cooler! Because I understood him. I got what made him tick like I never had with my other kids. Shortly before Noah turned three we discovered Sensory Processing Disorder, a long diagnosis for a kid who’s senses are either under or over responsive to every day stimulus. It started with my desperately searching for an answer to Alaina’s problems and ended with an “AH HA” moment about Noah as well. As I read The Out of Sync Child I sat with tears in my eyes because not only did I realize this book was describing my kids to a T, but because I was right all along! My kids didn’t need to be medicated. They didn’t have ADHD, as so many people had been kind enough to suggest. They needed an occupational therapist to help them regulate their bodies. Learn how to calm themselves when their engine runs fast. Stimlate themselves when their engine runs slow. And Steve and I needed someone to say, “When Noah does “X” you need to do “Y”. For Noah, he didn’t feel pain. He couldn’t eat without stuffing his mouth SO full he was gagging and throwing up. He quite literally would bounce off the walls. And chairs, and couches, and cars, and fences, and people. You get the picture. During his initial evaluation we discovered he is a sensory seeker and had low tone in his core. While working on his eating issues we discovered that one side of his jaw was weaker than the other so he favored chewing on the strong side so we did exercises to strengthen the weak side. We used a mirror so he could visually see when his mouth was full because his brain wasn’t getting the signal until it was so full he was throwing up. I can’t tell you how many times over the last 8 months my decision to do therapy was questioned.
“Oh, my kid only eats PB &J and he’s fine. He’ll outgrow it!”
“Lots of kids are picky eaters!”
“He’s just a BOY! Boys are wild.”
A mother can tell when something isn’t right with her child and seeking help for all of the things that everyone kept telling us was “normal boy behavior” was the best choice I’ve made yet in my son’s 3.5 short years on Earth thus far. I’m writing this post because we should be at therapy right now, but last week Noah graduated OT! Every Monday at 9am for 8 months Noah and I have gone to “play” with Mr. Chris. For him that’s exactly what it was, playing. They pretended to be pirates and caught rings with a foam sword, dove into shark infested crash pits to rescue hippos, tried not to run over the mice on the walls with the crazy car (which Noah of course turned into trying TO run over the mice on the walls), and dipped random food into random dips trying to get him to eat something other than a peanut butter sandwich while not puking all over the table. One day he ate an entire bologna sandwich dipped in syrup. I was repulsed and thrilled all in the same breath. The day he ate a carrot I jumped on Facebook and gushed as if it were his first steps.
Every therapy session he made strides. We had a few back peddles, but kept chugging along knowing that Chris was there to keep us on the right track. He was our training wheels on this crazy sensory processing ride. You know that awkward phase when your child is learning how to ride a bike and most of the time you can see they are balancing alone, but for those one or two times that the bike starts to tip the training wheels are there to catch them? That’s how the last couple months of therapy have felt. Each week I could go back and talk about what worked, what didn’t, and what we needed to change. I was getting the hang of giving him the sensory input he needed, but I still had times where I would hold back tears and feel like a failure. Like the time we tried the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol. Disastrous! Amy and Antonette can attest to that. They got to experience Noah on what we not so lovingly refer to as Brushing Day. Yet it works beautifully for Alaina. It’s such a trial and error process, that I can’t imagine not having an occupational therapist to lean on for advice. As of last week Steve and I are on our own to make this work for Noah. I feel prepared, but it’s still daunting. Luckily Chris has told us that if we ever need to come in for a “tune up” to just call. My house now has a trampoline in the living room (and soon to be back yard), a homemade crash pad in the front play room, and so many messy gooey crafts in the craft drawer that I’ll never get all the paint, putty, or play dough off my dining room rug, but its a small price to pay for sensory regulated kids!
Can you tell it was an exciting day around here? If this piques anyone’s interest, and you decide to type “Sensory Processing Disorder” into your Google Toolbar, I’ll save you the searching. Probably the best checklist you’ll find: