Let’s talk OT. Occupational Therapy. Have you tried it for your child?
Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism, ADHD…there are many reasons to take your child to OT. And there are ways to integrate it at home when he really needs it or if OT just isn’t an option right now.
What do they do there? Do they just play? Essentially, yes. Because a child’s occupation is to play! They just happen to make that play centered around tasks that will help your child process their environment better.
For us personally our son works on sitting and doing table work, understanding and assessing his “engine” (aka emotional level and what makes him high or low in energy and mind), and doing “heavy work” while doing mental work simultaneously to help with his sensory input.
Any of this confusing? Don’t worry. We will go over it extensively in several posts.
Here is a wonderful explanation on sensory overloads and different types as well as some strategies! I highly recommend you read it and see if it applies.
For us, our son is both sensory seeking and sensory overloaded. Sometimes he seeks the sensory input which in turn makes him overloaded.
Think running around the house in a giant circle then immediately screaming and crying afterwards because it was too much and needing to have quiet time in his room because he’s hyperventilating.
It wasn’t quite the right sensory input he needed to help him. He needed his heavy work like pushing a sibling around in a laundry basket.
The one he came up with on his own a few days ago was tying a long string around our computer chair and pulling our one year old around the house. It was heavy. It worked his whole body at a slow pace. These are things I wouldn’t think about before OT, but that work for him.
I love it because we aren’t telling him to “sit still” or “calm down”. I’ve said those many times. They don’t work. He needs to move. It’s how he processes information.
So, what does sensory processing issues look like at our house?
Every day it means screaming loudly about being hurt. (Like he did in my ear two seconds ago because his leg touched his metal chair.) Stubbed toe? Barely being touched by a sibling? He’s going to scream. Sadly, I rarely even ask what happened any more. I just direct him to take deep breaths. I don’t tell him to stop screaming. I know for him that pain is magnified. If any of our other children screamed like that I would run to them assuming their arm was cut off.
Another thing is extreme irritability. He’s always frustrated about something. If this isn’t handled with care it’ll send him into a panic attack where he can’t calm down unless we do certain things (another post).
It means not leaving the house if he wakes up in a bad mood because he’s very likely to panic and scream in public because the stimuli is even worse that day.
It’s when friends come over who break the legos he worked on for three hours and he screams, panics, and can’t breath for at least 20 minutes.
Daily we have to balance between helping him and teaching our other children not to just do what he says so he isn’t “mad” at them.
It’s lots of chatting all day long in our ears, but not listening to us.
There is definitely plenty of hyperactivity and therefore chaos.
Coupled with anxiety he feels a lot of guilt and fear of rejection (which he has seen from family and friends due to his sensory issues) so we hear things like, “just kill me. No one loves me!” after he throws a tantrum or is angry towards one of us because he feels bad.
It’s us showing him daily we still love him and we’re here to help him process and focus.
And it’s us forgiving those who don’t understand. Who say mean things to him. Or who refuse to do play dates any more but make excuses which is more hurtful than just saying the real reason.
Because as a mom I know you are rejecting my child and I’d rather you just say that to my face.
It’s going to bed exhausted because all these combined is just a lot. It’s a lot.
I know some of you understand.
ADHD is not being hyper. It is so very much more.
Next post I will show you some of our favorite toys that work wonders at home for OT.