Occupational Therapy Changed Our Life

I’ll admit that I was a little hesitant when our spectrum doctor recommended occupational therapy.
After consulting Dr Google on the subject, I wondered what could OT do that I wasn’t already doing?
My kid wasn’t wandering off or having major meltdowns in public. I actually thought my concerns were so small that the therapist would laugh at me.
The thing is, most people don’t get how the little things can add up. I don’t want to see my child struggle even if it is with something small.
OT did a lot of good for us.

makingplaydohcake

playdohcake

The spectrum Dr faxed the request to our pediatrician and I also called.
We were put on a short wait list and our first appointment consisted of me filling out paperwork, I know, big shocker there. I talked about the amount of paperwork last week.
Our OT met with us, asked some questions, read over the forms I filled out and came up with a short-term care plan with a few things to work on, see where she was, my concerns, etc.

For the first two weeks we met once a week and were amazed at the daily life improvements we saw.
Since Kiah was doing so well, our OT decided to bump us up to twice a week for the next 10 weeks.
The therapist was AMAZING with Kiah. She was fun and she involved Ava and Samuel when she could.
She always answered my questions and made sure that Kiah and I understood the benefits of each activity.

mittensparkles and paint water

The therapist made two charts for Kiah. One for daily living tasks and one with pictures that she took of her doing various activities. They have a velcro backing so she can peel them off as she goes along. She likes having these charts because it’s something that’s only for her.
I learned that proprioceptive work is a fancy term for heavy work. In office we always did a mix of gross and fine motor skills.
I was happy to hear that we were already doing many things at home, but like I said, OT gave me more tools to work with. And I watched my daughters confidence build every week. The therapists commented on it as well.
We were really impressed with the progress being made.

Our therapists loved her job and I could tell how much she cared about her kids and their parents.
She was just as excited as I was when I told her about our unexpected trip to Sam’s Club and didn’t think about explaining the store before hand. We walked into this big, crowded, loud store, with its bright fluorescent lights, all kinds of sounds, smells, and things to touch and look at… and my kid didn’t have one single moment of sensory overload! All of the exercises we did in office, the daily routine at home, they worked. That’s how we knew the care plan was working and we all talked about what a nice experience it was.

arcadegame

Twice a week for three months our therapists asked how the week or days before went. Kiah was always a part of the conversations. She talked about what she liked, didn’t like, how she felt, what worked, etc.
Then we did heavy work activities and always rounded out the session with fine motor skills.
If we had some off days and I was stuck on what the cause might be, the therapist would go back into her notes and helped me pinpoint everything that led up to the off days.
Then she would help us figure out a way to get back on track. She reminded me that she’ll have really good days and moments but also times where she would be off-balance. Like when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and we just feel off? It’s the same way for children, especially those on the spectrum…there sensory system is constantly being bombarded and they have trouble filtering all of what’s coming at them. Imagine when you’re in a crowded place and the noise level gets to be too much for you….that’s how my daughter feels all the time. She sees and feels everything  ten times more than the average person. Imagine how overwhelming that is!

It’s been almost one month since we finished therapy. I love how patient she was with Kiah. Always asking about her day, and noticing if she wasn’t as talkative or a little slower that day. She gave her time to respond to her questions. She treated her with dignity and respect. I like how she kept it light and fun. We miss her.
I’m going to email her soon for a one month update.

climbing

Our days flow so much better now…. It wasn’t horrible before, but we didn’t have all the tools, or know how to properly use the tools we already had. Kiah has always been loving, sweet, curious, a great problem solver,and intelligent. We are able to communicate better. I’ve learned how to step back and stop doing everything for her. I ask questions to help her get to a resolution when she’s stuck. Some of my concerns came from me not allowing her the time she needed, and I thought I was before. She has told me how much she likes being able to do more for herself.
Seeing the progress she’s made  on top of her wonderfulness and the confidence she has in herself makes me a little teary.

I was so nervous about being discharged from OT, but the therapist assured me that we would be ok.
Kiah finished a six month care plan in three months. I’ve kept up what we did in office at home, and we have a folder with the activities we had been doing with more for us to try.

I don’t know if I’ve done an adequate job of explaining how OT changed our life, but I tried.

airhockey

Here’s a list of some of our activities.

Heavy Work – good for gross motor skills and feeling how and where your body moves:

Yoga.
Pushing, pulling, rocking, balancing with a big exercise ball.
Making a giant figure 8 and crossing the left/right side with a weighted ball, or walking around it pretending to me different animals.
Play, at the park, the beach, around the house, getting the body moving.
Vacuuming, moving wet clothes from the washer to the dryer.
Pushing the cart in the grocery store.
Riding a bike, jumping rope.
Blowing bubbles.
Carrying a small weighted backpack to help with feeling grounded – she puts her toys and books in it.
Weighted blanket and lap pad.
Wii or WiiU
Jumping on a mattress and trampoline

Good for tactile sensory input and fine motor skills:

Chewing gum, sipping ice water through a straw – helps with focus and concentration and the gum gives her something to chew on when she’s at the computer instead of cords or pencils.
Puzzles
Playdoh
Clay
Lego
Making our own sensory toys
Weaving
Knitting/Crochet
Painting with fingers, cutting up sponges into tiny squares, using Q-tips, different size and weight brushes.
Writing/tracing in a pan filled with cornmeal.

Here’s a great list of Heavy Work activities.

You can read the first post: Process For Getting An Autism Diagnosis.

I have a Pinterest board for Autism and a Autism community board that I belong to.
Also check out the PocketOT on Facebook.

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Occupational Therapy Changed Our Life

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16 Replies to “Occupational Therapy Changed Our Life”

  1. Thank you for sharing this, and for the wonderful list of activities. I am helping a friend with some research on OT, so this will come in handy 🙂
    Kim recently posted…Off the NeedlesMy Profile

    1. Glad my list and links can be of some help.
      There are so many amazing resources available….each link leads to more and more!

  2. The trampoline was a life saver for my daughter’s friend. It just helped her when she was feeling out of sorts. I’m glad you had such a wonderful therapist. It makes such a difference I’m sure.
    Donna recently posted…Yarn Along A Little LateMy Profile

    1. I think the therapist make just as much of a difference as therapy does.

  3. My older son has Sensory Processing disorder and OT was a wonderful help. It definitely gave us “more tools for our toolbox” in parenting and problem solving.
    I ended up writing this long thank you letter to his therapist when he met his goals.

    My son is 14 now (he went to OT when he was around 7), and knowing the things we learned in OT we (he and I/his dad) can talk about how his body is feeling and what he might need at any given time. He’s getting better about expressing his needs/concerns, too.

    So, yeah. Occupational Therapists rock.

  4. I meant to add, if you haven’t read the “Out-of-Sync” child books, they have good ideas for activities depending on whether you need heavy work or other things.
    We found that as much as my son dislikes unpredictable things, he LOVES the body impacts from roller coasters. The first ride is scary for him (not knowing how it’ll turn, etc), but going on it several times makes him feel really good – from all the banging and jerking around. Amusement parks are a blessing and a curse for kids on the spectrum, so we have to spend time there thoughtfully.
    amey recently posted…Yarn Along 2015: Week 11My Profile

    1. I started reading that book a couple years ago and have been meaning to pick it up again.
      We haven’t been to a big amusement park yet, but we visited the local Carnival last summer and she loved the little Dragon roller coaster.

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience with OT. My oldest went when she was around 6. I wonder if we should return. Her therapist mostly focused on fine motor skills which was the intent of the sessions, but it sounds like it would have helped for some of her out of balance moments. I’m not sure, but just thinking aloud after reading your post.
    Latonya recently posted…20 Reasons I Enjoyed Teaching Them Diligently NashvilleMy Profile

    1. Couldn’t hurt to look into.
      K loved the heavy work exercises the most. They had a nice size gym with all sorts of cool toys.

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  11. Please keep writing. I have a 10yr old son with adhd/aspergers and its been tough to find support from people who truly understand….especially within the Blk community. Your post was informative and helpful. Dont stop!!

  12. OT’s can really be a lifesaver. They know exactly how to rehab or train those fine motor skills that can be really hard to deal with. Thanks for sharing.

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