I’m learning a lot in our OT sessions these days. We’ve only been in OT for about a month, but it’s been the most valuable learning experience during our entire journey through dealing with autism.
Our older child had sensory issues, sure. They were similar to mine in fact. Tags itched and needed to be cut out of shirts. Seams on socks didn’t feel right. Shoes were a constant battle until we found Crocs. Through it all, we found easy fixes, and life went merrily rolling along.
Then our second child came along. Whoa Nelly. He’s a bundle of energy. There’s no shortage of comments when we’re out in public about his energy levels. Even at home he can be crazy. His attention span seemed shorter than a gnat. He tantrums. He kicks. He yells. He growls. Then he smiles. He laughs. He runs. He plays. He is in constant motion. He hardly sleeps. We were convinced he had ADHD.
The evaluation showed autism. That was according to the school. But just barely they said. The actual DSM diagnosis we got from a therapist says otherwise. This child is what she called on the “low functioning” end of the spectrum despite some traits that would lead a person to believe otherwise. His energy and tantrums and attention span and lack of sleep are all probably due to sensory overload.
Thankfully we had already been on the waiting list for OT and speech therapies. The call for an OT opening came shortly after that DSM diagnosis appointment. Who would have thought all of the things we are battling at home could be sensory? We blamed the autism. Which, I guess in a round about way is part of the issue, but sensory. Huh! Who knew?
Our OT has been fabulous. She is so intuitive when it comes to our son’s sensory needs. I honestly haven’t a clue. We faithfully do everything she has suggested. It’s helped! Buying a swing for inside the house has been the best investment we ever made. Again, who knew? Our son hated his baby swing. Brushing, joint compressions, the sports shirts that are tight fitting, a heavier quilt for his bed, they’ve all helped.
Just last week, our OT noticed that even light affects our younger son. The OT room is lit dimly, while the PT room is rather bright with lots of equipment to distract him. He was calm, collected, and focused at the end of his OT session. When we opened the doors, he fell apart. It even affects his coordination. I never made the connection before. Our house isn’t too brightly lit because my husband and I are both light sensitive. This totally explains why the boys fall apart when we take them shopping.
We’re starting to make some real progress around our house, and it’s all because of our OT pointing out the sensory needs of our younger child. It’s still so amazing to me how many of his annoying behaviors to the rest of us are his acting out because he has a sensory need that needs met, not because he needs a time out or other form of punishment. I wish we had met our OT a lot sooner.