Monday, March 30, 2009

Samuel update

With all the craziness this month I have not been able to update what that has been going on with our little guy. The last I wrote about him was that we had taken him to a developmental pediatrician who had found some sensory integration issues and recommended that he have a full psychological done along with occupational therapy.

Well, a lot has happened since then. I took him for an occupational therapy assessment about three weeks ago. The therapist spent two hours with him and came to some interesting conclusions. He is either below average or well below average in manual dexterity, upper limb coordination and manual coordination. He also has some significant sensory processing deficits which include auditory,visual, and vestibular processing. Basically, Samuel and all his senses have a very hard time responding to the world around him. With auditory processing he responds negatively to certain sounds or has a really hard time concentrating when there is a lot of noise. I did a little copying and pasting to give you an idea of what is going on with Samuel.

This person will be unlikely to follow the conversation directed at them by the person across the table. Imagine a similar child in a classroom, surrounded by pencils being sharpened, children talking, music playing, feet shuffling, and chairs being scraped across the tile floor. This child may not be able to complete the math or reading assignments correctly with all of the other stimuli overloading his brain. In fact, this child may even exhibit behavioral problems resulting from his frustration and inability to screen out unnecessary sensory input. The teacher may notice the child "clowning around," staring into space, or flapping his hands. This child may become terrified of the fire alarm, perceiving that sound as painful. Another child may struggle when the room is quiet, because that child is not receiving enough input through his hearing. This child may begin tapping his pencil, humming, kicking his desk, or otherwise producing his own noise. All children are different in their needs, but the teacher should be sensitive to the child with sensory integration dysfunction, taking time to determine whether that child needs a quiet area to study, a set of headphones to block out extra sounds, or perhaps a stereo headset to provide quiet music

A person who does not know how far her arm extends may end up hitting someone as she reaches for an object. This person may step on someone’s foot as she walks, not realizing that a foot was in her way. She may slam doors, or close them so lightly that they do not latch. She may be clumsy, and may be unable to climb a piece of playground equipment or walk up stairs without difficulty, perhaps needing to watch her feet to see where to place them. Problems with the proprioceptive system can be the main contributor to difficulties with motor planning, which is the ability to figure out how to use one’s body. For example, when walking under a low doorway, most people know just how far to bend down to avoid hitting their head. A person with motor planning difficulties may bend over too far, or not far enough. This person may not know how to climb up the monkey bars on the playground, or may not be able to get down once she is up there! Routine tasks such as dressing, tying shoes, eating with utensils, and writing can be challenges for people with motor planning difficulties.

So between Samuel's lack of coordination and all the sensory issues, he has a lot going on. A lot of things are making sense now. He was a slow walker, it took him forever to learn to go down steps. He still has to look to go down when he goes down them. He couldn't open a door by himself until he was almost four. He was four before he could really jump. Riding a bike hasn't come yet. And the movement.... He has always been in constant motion. He can not sit still without fidgeting. His hands have to be occupied with something.

We started his occupation therapy this week. He will go every Monday morning for a couple months. Then, they will see how he is progressing and go from there. We have 4o visits a year that are covered by our insurance and I am so grateful for that. We have a ton we can do with him at home. This summer, he and I will have a little boot camp to see what works and what doesn't. Then, we will be better informed to let the school know what he needs. We are also on a waiting list to have a full psychological done by the University of Georgia. It is a third of the price of a private psychologist because it is done by doctoral students under the supervision of a psychologist. I have a few friends that have used them and they have been very pleased with the thoroughness of the testing.

Samuel's school has been very supportive. We had a meeting last week to go over the occupation therapist report. His teacher immediately took half of the fluorescent bulbs out of her room. He is using bigger pencils and crayons to help him with writing. She already lets him wiggle a lot. He is the errand runner. He does all the heavy lifting. She even has him push the walls. This type of activity is actually soothing for kids like Samuel.

Mrs D. meets with all the specials(PE, art, music, Spanish) teachers on Wednesday to go over this. Samuel has an awful time in PE. With sixty kids, his coordination issues and a huge space, he completely spazzes out. He actually will get in trouble and put in time out on purpose so he doesn't have to do the activity he knows he can't do.

So, basically we do feel like some of the puzzle pieces are coming together. The more information we have, the more we can do to help Samuel be more successful at home and at school. I am going to include the webpage that I got some of the above information from. It's a great summary of sensory integration.


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