Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Living On Sensory Overdrive: Does Your Child Have Sensory Processing Disorder?

Hey Ya'll. I would like to introduce a friend and fellow mommy blogger. Melissa is a mother of 3, one of whom has "Sensory Processing Disorder" or SPD. SPD is not something that is commonly diagnosed and can seem like "typical rough boy's behavior," when in fact it could be something that needs more attention. I am sharing this blog because I think many parents can benefit from this information as she also posts very helpful information to help with many behavioral issues. It may shed some light into your life. 

So please take a moment and read this blog post from Melissa @  Living On Sensory Overdrive

Sensory Mommy

This is the phrase that kept me from seeking additional support the first couple of years of Crash's life. In my eyes he was just a "rough and tough" boy with an adventurous spirit. That couldn't be in the same room with his brother if his brother didn't have a helmet on. That didn't interact with other kids. That enjoyed climbing on top of our couch at age two to jump into a pile of huge legos bruising himself in the process but LOVING IT. That ran full speed through locked baby gates ON PURPOSE. That dove into his brother's pack n play landing on his head every time because he liked the way it felt. That had to follow a strict, self imposed routine each day or FLIPPED OUT. That spun in circles for a few minutes each morning after waking up. That preferred cold baths. That ate only yogurt and soft hot dogs. You know, boys will be boys kind of stuff.

It's normal.

It wasn't Crash's behavior that led me to call "Birth to Three", an early intervention program, for the first time. It was his poor speech. Make that lack of speech. Other kids his age were forming short sentences and he was silent. S-I-L-E-N-T. Sheer silence didn't match up with his... energy level.

So I called them.

We made the early intervention appointment when Crash was 2 years old (he is now 4). I was still teaching at the time and had a new baby boy (current middle child, Scarface). Someone came out and asked us a ton of questions. Then a speech pathologist came out and confirmed that, duh, he was behind in speech. She was really nice by the way, and I liked her at lot.

An IEP meeting ensued. I say that so easily like it's normal and like I handled all of the emotions leading up to that day so well.

I didn't.

At that time I was well into my career as a special education teacher. I worked in one of the best school districts in the nation. I was well trained on how to work with kids with special needs, and I was proficient at the legal process regarding IEP meetings. I sometimes chaired these meetings. I went to court over these meetings. Occasionally I taught other teachers in our prestigious county how to run these meetings and write IEPs effectively. All of those years of preparation did not, however, prepare me for how to be the MOTHER on the other side of the table in those meetings.

The sad, nervous, ashamed mother.

Was it all in my head anyway? Was my adventurous, silent child just a late talker? Was this really necessary? Was I jumping the gun here? Was I just on board with getting "free services" for my child simply because I was a special education teacher and knew what I was entitled to if we so happened to fit all of the criterion for the services?

How could I have let this happen anyways?! I was a TEACHER for God's sake! And here I am sitting in an IEP meeting because my kid can't talk?!?!

We wrote Crash's IEP to include speech goals. Because that's all he needed. So I thought, let's just calm down and play it cool here... If he happened to add hundreds of words to his vocabulary to catch him up to his same age peers in the next year, then that would be awesome. I should just focus on that... enormous goal... that I'd been unable to meet despite doing everything I'd ever been taught in college or on the job. And if I just focused on not sucking as a mom then maybe this would all work out rather quickly...

Soon after our IEP meeting, speech services ensued the second I got home from work (around 4:30/ 5:00 pm). That's every person's best time of day right? Tired, hungry.... but who cares! Let's get this early intervention party started! I know you missed me all day at work today, Crash, but GET IT TOGETHER and work on talking RIGHT NOW, OK?

Weeks passed by and Crash started adding a few new words to his vocab! ALRIGHT!!! Then he stopped. Well.... technically we couldn't get him TO STOP... moving, jumping, bouncing, running, crashing... which apparently affects a kid's ability to focus on learning speech and other important stuff.

Crash's speech pathologist started mentioning occupational therapy services every time she came to see us week after week.... I can't tell you how long I just ignored her. Those were for kids that couldn't hold a fork. Or use the bathroom. Or cut with scissors. They were for kids that I TAUGHT in "real" special ed; they weren't for my handsome, normal little BOY. Couldn't she just see that he was being a REGULAR BOY?

Then one day Crash's service provider (different person than the speech pathologist) paid us a routine visit to see how things were going. Crash was there too... doing what he did best... crashing through things, on things, off of things... ya know... doing "boys will be boys" stuff.... After a few screams by the apparently sensitive service provider, she asked me about having an occupational therapist out to evaluate him. What?! Why?! So we can evaluate him for "sensory processing disorder" she said. <Insert my blank stare>.

I thought, "Everyone just needs to calm down here. I don't want to hear this right now." (Actually, what I wanted to do was throw up and cry if she didn't mind).

We scheduled the occupational therapy (OT) evaluation. That day came and our world changed forever.

I'm crying right now just thinking about that day. My hands are shaking a little if I'm being honest.

The sweet occupational therapist asked us a series of questions.... all of which we answered, "Yes"... and with every "yes" the lump in my throat grew bigger, my heart beat faster, and my stomach tossed and turned harder to the point where I just wanted to fall through the floor and smack myself over and over for doing something- or not doing something- to let this happen. I also wanted to accuse this wonderful woman of following us around and writing down everything my child had done since birth. Clearly she was just a stalker.

And she would become my lifeline for the remaining year. She would teach me about my son and save my sanity and my family.

You can read more about SPD and Melissa's journey at Living On Sensory Overdrive

No comments:

Post a Comment