Someone recently shared with me a concern for their toddler. Although beautiful and moving brilliantly along the checklist of development, there were a few key missing elements. As she shared her story my mind went back 21 years to my daughter's story. It sounded so similar.
There were so many things she could do, yet there were a few major things she couldn't do. Those few major setbacks overshadowed the positives. What was going on? After entering the world of physical therapy and speech therapy, and then giving birth to her baby brother, we entered a new world of occupational therapy. It was there that we began to have some answers, but even those answers led to deep, painful questions.
We found that the underlying answer to all of our therapy needs was a diagnosis of Sensory Integration Disorder (SI) for both of my kids. Today it is also known as Sensory Processing Disorder. Even though the name has changed (and I stick to the name I know, SI), the symptoms are the same. Even though the children were happy children, there were those certain moments of intense meltdowns. Despite the great development in so many important areas, they were overshadowed by a few significant delays.
Why? Some of the description of what Sensory Integration Disorder is, is in my post, here.
How do we remediate it? Some of that story is in the same post, linked again here.
Is there hope? This is what the mother asked of me. This is the question I asked of the occupational therapist twenty years ago. This is the question I asked God while on my knees day by day as I prayed for direction, stamina, and hope. Today, I can happily say yes! There is hope!
Why did we not have a prognosis twenty years ago? Having SI was not even recognized until recent decades. A. Jean Ayres, PhD was a pioneer in understanding this neurological concern. She wrote the book, Sensory Integration and the Child, in 1979. Our occupational therapist lent the book to me when my children were first diagnosed. I devoured the complex, collegiate text then asked the OT lots of follow-up questions. Weekly on-the-job training during my kids' therapy sessions during the days of toddlerhood in north Texas was priceless.
My kids were released from all therapies by school age with the intent that I carry on the task of training at home, which I did. A few years later I purchased this copy of Sensory Integration and the Child at a Friends of the Library book sale for 10 cents shortly after we moved back to San Antonio! I was so glad to have this resource for reference to add to all the notes I took from toddler days. However, I am now glad to say there is now a more parent friendly book available.
I discovered The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder at the used bookstore when my kids were about junior high age. I snatched it up and love it! It's everything I learned from the OT. In easy to read wording, it contains loads of helpful and fun activities, as well as explanations and tips. Key to this book is a resource list to occupational therapists around the nation on pages xvi-xviii. I highly recommend getting in touch with one near you. It is invaluable to have an expert at your side. Even more resources are located in the back.
I honestly cannot stress these safe and fun activities enough! In a world that is succumbed with technology dumping on children, we have paid a price. It is more important to make technology less and activities more. There is a time and place for technology, but there should be far more time given to activities. =) I shall be blogging on this more. =) However bit by bit, as I incorporated SI activities at home (which increases the weekly therapy session results in an exponential manner) melt downs became less, and development progress became more. It never happened over night, but I saw change grow steadily as long as I varied activities. It was as though the brain and nervous system got bored with the same-old activities. Whenever things seemed to go stale (or in other words, I saw little progress) I changed things up activity-wise. As a result, my kids gained another step in their development. Also it laid a foundation for me to be more selective in what we did in homeschool time, in free time, even on vacation time. My blog is very much a reflection of all of this.
Even so, something still seemed to be missing. By college years, we discovered the need for Vision Therapy. This seems to be the missing ingredient. It built on Sensory Integration with more fabulous and familiar activities that were kicked up a notch. When we met with our vision therapy office doctor, she gave me this book. This has more activities that can be done at home or school. However it cannot replace seeing an actual vision therapist who works with a doctor and special equipment during weekly sessions that cannot be done at home.
For more ideas check my category labels Sensory Integration, Spatial Reasoning, and Vision Therapy under the Homeschooling section of my right side bar. I'll be adding more details in the future.