We have been lucky in getting a PASW who gets things moving relatively speaking. From first meeting Sqk in January she got us places for sensory assessment and applied to ASF for funding – and this was all within a couple of months or so 🙂 We attended a training with Sarah Lloyd (local specialist occupational therapist & play therapist) a week and a half ago for a full day on Wednesday. Was us, our PASW and Sqk’s afternoon TA – usually it is SENCO from school but she had been to the training in January due to us going to the same person as @TwoBoysandUs has with her Boyo and the boys being in the same school. So we took TA instead who found it really rewarding – her comment was she wishes she had known a lot of this stuff 3 years ago when Boyo started (she has worked with him as well as Sqk).
This OT very much talks about an undeveloped sensory system not sensory processing (for the usual view of sensory processing see Suddenly Mummy’s recent post which inspired this one). She talked about the vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile systems – the ‘foundation’ systems’ that are primed by the huge head, leg & arm movements that a baby uses when in a ‘conversation’ with a parent. She talked about the limbic system being most important for children who have experienced trauma – the music that is always playing the background as she called it. We talked a lot about comparing the limbic system to a crane where the vestibular system as the stable base – helping us feel grounded and connected to the earth via a stable core, while the proprioceptive is the arm and controls the smooth, well-coordinated working of muscle groups.
Last Wednesday I took Sqk for his individual assessment – in effect a lot of games were played to assess his sensory development. The first few games we did looked at his tactile functioning and his ability to stay in the moment and manage the uncertainty of knowing. He struggled with all of these although he enjoyed them all immensely – he persevered with the feely bag until he found what was asked for. He enjoyed me drawing stuff on his back but was giggly throughout (it appears he is very sensitive to touch on his back). He loved tasting the crisps to work out which two bowls contained the same flavour but struggled to tell them apart (although managed well this evening when we tried it again – Sqk against Daddy).
The assessment of his vestibular system threw up no surprises in that he does have weak core, shoulder girdle, neck & head muscles although he can lie on his tummy in a straight line. But island hoping (from cushion to cushion) got him aroused quickly and he was soon jumping & spinning. The proprioceptive assessment just highlighted how unsteady he is but stubborn and determined to succeed. Sarah was impressed with his handwriting given how underdeveloped all his muscles are.
The outcome of all this is a set of suggestions for stuff for us to do with Sqk – hopefully so “his body will be more synch with itself”. For the tactile system we have taste games (he loves the crisps game), feely bags, blowing bubbles and touch games – which resulted in the tweet this morning about watching Daddy & Sqk playing guess the letter being drawn on the back. Then Sqk is spending lots of time laying on his tummy – playing on iPad, watching TV, reading bedtime story etc.
Then there is the wonderful game of commando crawling with a cushion on his back – like a snake between Mummy & Daddy. Alternatively being a tortoise with a cushion on his back while crawling and keeping cushion in place. Yesterday while in queue at Legoland Discovery (using our Merlin passes again) he was doing wall sits. Thus far all he sees this as is games to play with Mummy & Daddy so we are incorporating them into our life. With school’s cooperation and some work at childminders hopefully we will help him. We are lucky in that our childminder’s son has been diagnosed with weak shoulder girdle, neck & head muscles (handwriting issues) so has a similar set of exercises to do so she can get them doing them together.