After I posted Reflections on Addison – Part 3 I had a lot of moms tell me they had been through something similar or knew a mom who seemed to be struggling with trying to handle a “spirited” child. Spirited – hummm…that sure is a nice term for a tiny person who is driving you to the brink of insanity. My heart truly goes out to moms who are at the end of their rope. That’s part of the reason I write about Addison…I hope to give other parents hope and know that they are not alone.
Last time I said we were going to talk about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) so let’s do that. The first step is in recognizing signs of SPD. Here are some basic questions to ask:
Ever wonder why your child seems to be an excessive risk taker, crashing into anything and everything on purpose? Or do they fear the playground and being turned upside down? Does your child cry and cover their ears at loud noises, even the vacuum & hair drier? Do they hate being touched or can’t seem to be touched enough? Will they only wear certain clothes and need the tags cut out? They hate getting their hands messy and won’t play with finger paints, glue or mud? Will they only eat certain foods? This is just a short list questions to ask when trying to identify what may be going on with your child. There is a much longer check list of symptoms available here. Please understand that this checklist is not for parents to try and diagnose their child. That should be left up to a professional. This checklist is a helpful tool to take to your pediatrician and to find out if they need to be evaluated.
Back to Addison. After we talked to our pediatrician and he sent us off for the gamut of evaluations we went through a similar check list. By the time all the evaluations were done and we were ready to see a OT on a regular basis we had just reached a major change in our lives and were preparing to move from CA to OK. (I’ll skip that whole story because it’s a long one.) In the mean time I began to discover that a major melt down trigger was any time there was a change in schedule or environment. Even tiny changes like Dear Husband coming home from work or going to the grocery store. Even leaving the grocery store could trigger a meltdown. I found it helpful if I gave him extensive warnings as to when anything was about to change. If I needed to go to the grocery store I would tell him exactly what was going to happen to lead up to us getting into the car…Let’s play together for 30 minutes then we are going to change your diaper and put your shoes on. After that we are going to leave the house, get in the car and go grocery shopping! At each stage I would again explain what was happening and what was coming next. The same thing would happen at the store. After we buy bread we are going to go pay for our stuff then leave the store and get in the car to go home. There was a lot of talking and counting down. I knew that he didn’t understand the difference between 30 minutes and 10 minutes and 1 minute but the constant verbal cues helped him prepare that a change was coming.
Skip ahead to getting settled into our new life in OK. We found a new pediatrician and had to go through the whole evaluation process with the health department again. Finally, we were hooked up with an amazing OT. We would go to her office once a week and play in a baby pool full of dry beans and other interesting contraptions. She started us on listening therapy.
Listening therapy, you ask? Listening therapy (LT) is a therapeutic program to improve the neurophysiological foundation for integrating sensory input by using specific sound frequencies and patterns to stimulate the brain. Like occupational therapy, LT is based on the theory of neuroplasticity, which refers to brain changes that occur as a result of experience. What?! I’ll try and describe this in layman’s terms as best I can. The brain has an amazing ability to change and heal itself. What we hear, how our brain processes the sound and our behavior and bodily functions are linked. Listening therapy uses music that has been digitally altered to allow the brain to hear frequencies that would not normally be heard. Processing these frequencies begins to flip a switch in the brain that allows the child to better process their surroundings, concentrate and self regulate (self sooth or coping mechanisms). Please remember that am by no means an expert on this. I’m just trying my best to describe something that is difficult to explain.
Whew…that’s a lot of information. Let’s wait until next time to learn how Addison’s listening therapy went…