Caden had his first occupational therapy session today for some mild sensory issues he has. The session started out good, Caden was excited to play and see what the OT had, but that happiness didn’t last long. The OT brought and exercise ball and did some rolling with Caden on top, tummy down. He didn’t like that too much, and the OT stopped. But then Caden did something with the ball that made him fall back and hit his head on his play kitchen. He didn’t cry or get upset, probably because the OT was there. But after that incident he refused to do what the OT asked him to do. He got very upset, crying and running away. He wanted nothing to do with the OT. We let him calm down and tried to engage him again, with little results. Caden’s reactions to the OT included throwing toys and swinging a pool noodle at her. This is not like Caden at all. He has never thrown something at us in anger. This was very disturbing to me.
As the session went on, Caden decided to sit and play with play dough and the OT was able to sit next to him and do some joint compressions without issue. The OT and I talked a lot. She told me to do more joint compressions, which I had done but had stopped because Caden was resistant. But she said this is something that he needs to be able to cope with new situations, environments and people. And I get that now, the way Caden reacted to the OT today is very similar to how Caden has reacted to being forced to sit for story hour at the library. New situations make him very uncomfortable.
The OT also advised that I start planning activities to do during the day. She wants me to set up more structured play activities and focus on getting Caden to stretch his attention span and get used to focusing on something that maybe he doesn’t really want to do. This is a really important skill that I need to develop in Caden if I ever want to get somewhere in our homeschooling adventure. So for example I will set up the blocks and play with them for a few minutes before moving on to play dough. She really emphasized “first, then” scenarios. So I would tell Caden “first we will play with the blocks, then we will play with the play dough”. She wants me to plan 3 activities to play for 15 minutes, twice a day. This will be a challenge for both of us, as we are so used to just playing freely all day.
Another thing the OT talked about is setting up a picture schedule so that Caden can see how his day is going to look. He really needs that predictability to be able to focus and relax. He thrives on our routine, anyone who knows us, knows that I do not deviate from his sleep routine too much. I learned early on that if I mess with his sleep schedule too much, he doesn’t sleep as well, wakes up in the night and/or really early in the morning. But I haven’t gotten into much of a play routine or too much structured play for Caden because he was always resistant in the past. I am just going to have to be firmer with him and gradually build this into our daily routine. I think this will be good for Caden as he tends to just hop from one activity to the next without really playing. The OT is going to talk to me more about this next week.
I am going to try my hardest to add structured play into our days and doing the joint compressions throughout the day. I am hoping that when we move, he will be able to adapt quickly to his new environment. Unfortunately since we are moving at the end of the month we will only be able to fit in three more OT sessions. Hopefully this will teach me enough to get us through until we can find an OT to work with near our new home, if we need to.
If you have any experience with sensory issues or occupational therapy, I’d love for you to share!
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Hi Samantha. Caden sounds wonderful! Yes we have a lot of similarities between our boys. My son is 3 and we’ve worked with and through a lot of sensory issues. Do you “brush” him along with the joint compressions? We do it every 90 minutes for 3 months, then break. If not your OT can show you and give you a brush too. It has really helped my son focus and calm down. He tries to “brush” himself too, lol! 🙂 Have you tried the weighted vest? Not sure if Caden needs deep pressure treatment, but that’s a great tool.
I also noticed a big difference with his temperament after we removed gluten from his diet. His tantrums are much less and he switches more freely from one thing to another. My son started speech theory pre-school and being around the other kids in a “school” setting has been amazing. We work with sensory materials al lot as he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. For us, doing puzzles and reading books has really helped him be able to sit for longer periods of time. We too play freely, but I try to “schedule” a few activities a day. It took repetition and time to help him get comfortable, but the scheduled activities have helped tremendously! He can switch now with little fuss. Thank you for sharing your story! Good luck with your move.
Thanks for commenting. So far our OT has only prescribed joint compressions. But we will see what she says he need over the next few weeks.
My friend’s has joined a FB group for parents with sensory integration issues. She gets a lot of info and support from there. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time for free play as well! We do a lot of free play here, but my girls like structured activities too. I think it has helped me able to focus at school.