Thursday, February 20, 2014

OT 4Ever

A couple years ago, I'd never even heard of OT.  My first introduction to it was watching Parenthood, then my niece said she was interested in becoming an occupational therapist.  So when we got Spork a speech evaluation through First Steps, I was surprised that they referred us to OT services, which I thought was just for kids on the autism spectrum.  But boy was it a dream come true for Spork and for us too!

We've been very open about our First Steps experiences in real life, because I think it's an amazing program and hope that by sharing how much it's helped us that someone else takes advantage of the program as well.  We've also gotten a lot of questions from family and friends about what it means and what exactly Spork has been doing for an hour every week.


Basically, a lot of what we first misinterpreted as general grumpiness/temperment (massive meltdowns that lasted 45 minutes, the refusal to take a fun distraction, on the edge of tears at the drop of a hat) was due to Spork having a higher need for certain types of physical movement.  It's not something we view as a disability nor a problem, it's just an unusual need, the way Daddy needs second dinner or the way the Nugget needs to be run like a racehorse on a daily basis.  Spork needs a lot of "crashing", bouncing, heavy work, compression, and rhythmic movement to meet this need.  OT gives us the tools to meet these needs in a positive healthy way, as opposed to Spork throwing violent fits to try to get his "crashing" in a harmful way.  The turnaround since we started in November is absolutely tremendous.  Spork can be redirected and distracted after a small disappointment.  We can see his real personality emerging, and those tantrums are happening more like 1-3x/week and they are much shorter now.  His fuse is lengthening, and he's just an overall happier child.  Plus, OT is really really fun!  Spork (and Tater who gets the benefit of joining in his in-home sessions) both look forward to it every week.  Things he does include bouncing on a yoga ball/mini trampoline, sliding, swinging, being pulled or "rowed" on a blanket, parachute play, manual experiences like making ooblek and playing in dry beans, and experimenting with different whistles and horns.  Ms. OT is totally delightful and really cares about Spork.  It's a pleasure to learn from her and very exciting to watch Spork make progress and thrive.


I'm still very new to it, but my hope is that this post will reach just one other family who needs help.

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