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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s a list of some of our activities.
Heavy Work – good for gross motor skills and feeling how and where your body moves:
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.
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.
Making our own sensory toys
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.
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