Sunday, March 1, 2015

So near and dear to my heart..... Journey with Sensory Integration

Hi Dear Friends!!

With this post, I will be wearing my heart on my sleeve.  It's so near and dear to me, and something I've been struggling with as a Mom in some aspects.   It's that darn Mother's guilt.  I contribute it to some of the reasons why I've been so quiet on my blog awhile.  My hubs and I have spent a lot of our time and energy these past several months, working on things at home with our amazing, youngest child.  I am SO thankful for all the things we have learned on this journey thus far ,and this AMAZING little soul that God blessed into our lives. 

I wanted to share a little bit of our journey with sensory integration therapy for our youngest son.  It has been nothing but AMAZING!!!    I know there are many families questioning some of the same kinds of things my hubs and I questioned about our youngest, and maybe this information will help some families and answer some questions.

Let me begin by sharing with you about our youngest, " T".  What an AMAZING blessing from God this sweet boy is to our family!!  I found out I was pregnant with T only 2 months after my Mom had passed away from cancer.  He was a complete and utter surprise for my hubs and I.  I have 2 children from my previous marriage, and my hubs has 1 child from his previous marriage.  This would make NUMBER 4 for us!!  T was born 3 days before Christmas and after spending a couple of days in NICU for low blood sugar, came home with us on Christmas day.   If you've ever lost a loved one, you know that the holidays are excruciating, especially those first ones.  The Christmas T was born was the first one without my Mom, so I can tell you there was definitely some sadness, but this sweet boy brought so much joy.  My Dad even spent several days with us during this time.  I know that T's birth was a blessing to my Dad also.    AND if you are like my hubs and I, and have a BLENDED family, you know the trials and tribulations that come with blending a family.  It's tough and takes work.  This precious little miracle "T" is/was just amazing for blending together our 2 families.   

"T" was a fussy baby.  I didn't think too much about it because my first child was fussy too.  BUT "T" was/is  a terrible eater.  I can remember going back to work and the babysitter calling me to ask if I could come over during my lunch break and give T a bottle because he had refused one all morning.  We had several visits to the pediatrician trying to figure out if something was wrong  ... At one point she even prescribed some medicine for acid reflux for T and then sent him to a specialist at Children's Hospital.  Children's found nothing wrong with T and said he's just a fussy baby.  T was gaining weight but he would only eat well when he was back home with Mom ,and I was feeding him.  T's always been very active, somewhat clumsy, quirky, and is prone to meltdowns over minor things.  So much that my hubs and I have to hold him closely to help him begin to calm down.  He is prone to hurt himself during meltdowns.    I just knew that T was different from my other kiddos.   My hubs and I made sure we had daily routines for T and clear expectations.  This seemed to help but once he began early childhood preschool, we knew there was more....

As a teacher, I struggled with this.  I do not like labels.  I'd rather work on the areas of weakness than label a child.  So... I can tell you that T has never been diagnosed with ASD or Sensory Processing Disorder but has been evaluated by an OT on things that he needs help with.  There may come a time where a diagnosis is needed.... We'll cross that bridge when/if the time comes.  T does have an IEP in his Early Childhood Program in my school district.  I had always hoped that it would magically disappear when he began kindergarten.  BUT at his PTC in the Fall, his FABULOUS preschool teacher prepared me.  I am so glad she did.  She said she felt T would probably need an IEP in kindergarten because he really had lots of difficulty being attentive in a group setting.  I was devastated. So my hubs and I began actively looking for other ways we could help T besides all the services he was receiving in the school setting.  T has PT/OT 20 minutes a week through the school, and is enrolled in the early childhood/at risk program in our school district.


I work with some amazing special education teachers!!!  I have shared with a particular teacher my concerns with T on many occasions.   She suggested a book called " The Out of Sync Child".  Wow!  After only reading the first chapter, I knew this described our T.  My hubs agreed.  So once again this amazing teacher gave me the name of a Pediatric Therapy place that was about a 45 minute drive from our house.  We called and made an appointment for an evaluation.   The therapist saw all of the things that T's preschool teacher and my hubs and I had concerns with.  AND the best part was that T loved it there!!!!  So once a week T goes to therapy for sensory processing issues such as self regulation and fine motor skills.  He loves his OT Miss Eileen!!!  T has been going since late November, and in just a few months time, his progress has simply been amazing.  Miss Eileen began by introducing ankle weights and a wrap to place around his tummy ( for a hug) to T.  He responded well to this and actually asked for them.  It helps his self regulation. He would wear them for an hour in the morning, and hour before school begins ( 12:30), and an hour before bedtime.  He's beginning to be able to regulate his self, so the OT just started this week by decreasing his time wearing the weights.   She also has given us a Sensory Diet that includes heavy work to do with T.  We do lots of scooter activities, and bear crawls.  This also helps with his low muscle tone and with strengthening his core.  We do this 15 minutes each evening and whenever we can add in more.  For his fine motor strength, his OT has asked us to incorporate things like play doh and this dinosaur popper.  T loves playing with the dinosaur popper.

 We get a bucket and have a contest on who can get the most ping pong balls in the bucket.

The results so far have been absolutely AMAZING!!!  T seems happier and more content.  This is one of the first things his grandparents mentioned to us  that they thought T seemed happier.  T has had little to no meltdowns.  T can finally write his name by himself.  He still has work to do on this, but it's so much better.  T is more self regulated.  Before, he was a bundle of legs and arms moving in all different directions.  Now he seems to have his legs and arms under control most times.  T is gaining upper body strength and can attend to a task for 3 minutes without verbal cues.  This is HUGE!!!  T just went for his kindergarten check up and the pediatrician even mentioned how calm  he seemed.  ( Seriously folks when I took him to the pediatrician this past fall he was an anxious mess.  He was shouting at me and screeching.  Those in the waiting room could hear him telling me how he was never going to eat the food I cooked and that it was gross.   I was just thinking it's a good thing we don't use curse words in our house or they would be hearing that instead.)   Another huge success is that T had gained 3 lbs from his appointment that Fall to the appointment he had a few weeks ago.   This is HUGE folks!!!  T has remained the same weight since his 3 year old check-up.  He's a terribly picky eater ,and it's a challenge to get him to just stop and eat.  I truly believe that the therapy has been helping him be less anxious and able to slow down for a bit and eat.
AND so far our insurance has covered this therapy except for the $20 copay.  

If you live in the St. Louis or Metro East area, I highly recommend the pediatric therapy of Believe to Achieve.
   If you live in the St. Louis or Metro East area, I highly recommend the pediatric therapy of Believe to Achieve.
 T is such an amazing child.  We are embracing his differences. He has such a fun sense of humor, and LOVES life!!!  T loves his big brothers and sister and is able to connect with each of them individually.  He is obsessed with toy soldiers and old, old WWII movies.  He loves to cuddle with me and tells me " I love you Mommy" several times daily.  Makes my heart melt.... 

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