The circle of individuals that make up what I affectionately refer to as “Jack’s Team” has greatly expanded over the past year. We went from one SLP, one OT, and a special instructor to two private OTs, two private SLPs, one private PT, a special instructor, a teacher, one (or two) para-pros, a school SLP, a school OT, and a school PT.
Needless to say, the holidays are going to be an expensive venture in this house.
Each of these individuals has a different style, a different routine, and they all work on different things. It makes for an interesting dynamic between Jack and each of these individuals. For the most part, I think he likes everyone. The problem is that he doesn’t like everything that they do.
I need to make a confession on my boy’s behalf, because what his brain doesn’t allow him to verbalize, his behavior gives him away each time – OT isn’t exactly his favorite school activity.
In a way, I totally get it. The kid is a sensory creature through and through. When he goes to private therapy, it’s a sensory wonderland prior to getting down to the “work” aspect – the fine-motor component – that my boy despises. Does he despise it, too. He hates using his hands. He doesn’t independently feed. He is just starting to scribble, but he won’t choose to do it by any means. His dyspraxia and weak grasp causes him much grief indeed and he’d rather just avoid using his hands, thank you very much.
What he can’t verbalize in words in terms of his hatred for all things fine-motor, you see in stimming and screaming. Sensory-motor activities in the way of swinging, sliding, and – his most recent favorite – crashing into a crash pad are all on tap prior to the hard stuff.
Not so at school. Despite my pleas, there are no swings in Jack’s classroom or on his playground due to liability issues. There is a swing in the OT’s office, which sits on the other side of the building. Since Jack gets 2-30 minute segments of OT weekly, it would take a significant chunk of time to walk Jack down to the OT’s office and back to his classroom. So, the OT pushes in.
Inside Jack’s classroom, they are limited in sensory items, which is surprising for a preschool special education class! There is a trampoline, but since Jack is still emerging in jumping, he can’t get the height on the trampoline that he’d need to get good input. I provide a sensory brush and he has access to a compression vest, but that’s about it.
So what you have is a kid who has gotten a smidgen – at best – of input prior to engaging in the dreaded sensory activities of preschool – painting and Play Doh – plus the horrid fine-motor tasks of stringing beads and coloring.
And Jack wants none of it.
Now, fine-motor isn’t the only thing Jack struggles with by any means. He has gross motor and motor planning challenges, too, though we’ve seen gains in this area. He has obvious communication and social challenges. So, why isn’t he resisting speech or PT with the same vehement disdain as OT?
As I brainstormed this conundrum, it kept coming back to sensory issues. At school, PT is done as a pull-out, so while the motor challenges are there, he’s doing it in a 1:1 controlled environment. As for speech, it’s always been his favorite therapy. Speech is done as a push-in at school for Jack, but his school SLP isn’t making him dunk his hands in shaving cream or use a spoon to eat or paint or cut with scissors or color with crayons. Much of it is done hand-over-hand, which adds the component of close proximity to someone else who is – by definition of hand-over-hand – touching his hands.
I don’t know if I have a good solution to this. My hope is that as his communication skills increase with his years, he’ll be able to tell us what about school OT is so difficult so that we can either a) fix it, or b) help him understand why it needs to happen this way.
So, Ms. School OT, don’t take it personally. I’ve heard more than a few “all done!”s in my day from him. I’ve learned not to take my boy’s rebuffs to heart. He’s just a sensory creature with limited communication and social skills. My hope is that you’ll both come to some sort of understanding and learn to work together and that – with time – you’ll come to understand the delicate balance that needs to be maintained for my boy to learn. Until then, I’ll just keep educating you as best as I can so that you both can work together to help my boy grow.