The highest priority I had for services was occupational therapy. It was really hard to get. We ended up going through our insurance company via UCD referral (our regional center and school district were closed doors in this area). N has only gone for less than 2 months, and already I am seeing improvements, which is quite astonishing. I’m pretty sure it is partially his age, as I’m quite sure we would not get the same results if we started a year ago. Something magical about age 4 for him, some things are just *clicking*.
Our OT is kind and soft spoken and a calming presence for N. And for me. For the first time, I am able to talk to a professional about sensory issues, and not only be heard and understood, but given very specific and useful feedback on my many questions and concerns.
Initially N was freaked out by the sessions and for the first week or so of starting OT, he was SUPER sensitive to EVERYTHING. I figured it was his body system adjusting to it all. After awhile, things simmered back down and I am occasionally surprised at what he is willing to try out (see the skates above?!?). We have a sensory diet we do at home, which helps reinforce things. And the OT helps brainstorm with me on how to problem solve certain scenarios/situations. I cannot express just how much relief it has been to talk to her and not feel like a weirdo or a paranoid mom (as I’m sure I come across to others who don’t really “get” the sensory stuff, or autism in general).
She also helped me understand something that happened recently. N caught a cold, and a couple nights ago he woke up screaming. It’s unlike him to do that unless he’s really ill, so we brought him downstairs for some water and Tylenol. He sounded horrible so I brought out the nebulizer and had Wayne listen to his lungs with his stethoscope to rule out pneumonia/asthma. We eventually got him to calm down with a little prayer, some counting, a bit of medicine and a few sips of water, and tucked him back into bed.
The next morning he drew this:
I was initially disturbed by this drawing and wondered what it meant, because this is very different from all his usual drawings. And he never does an unhappy face either. Wayne guessed it was some complex way of him expressing how he felt last night. I brought it to the OT this morning, and she told me that he was probably drawing how he felt that night – with him feeling sick, his senses making him feel all disjointed, and the stairs… he’s got a lot of fears about leaving his room while it’s dark, and going downstairs was really upsetting for him when he probably wanted to be in his room. We troubleshooted ideas about a flashlight for him, and other scenarios for the future.
My child is complex, but with his OT, I feel like I am getting better at learning about my child every week. I am so desperate to know him and connect with him, and every little piece helps.