Tag Archives: autism

The OT

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Yesterday was D’s long-awaited trip to the occupational therapist. I say long-awaited as it was last June the whole process began to get him looked at after the school thought it would be a good idea because of his wonky fingers – which have since been diagnosed as hyper mobility.

His appointment was after lunch, so he had the morning at school, and wasn’t too happy at that prospect! I think the thought of seeing yet another new person to prod him about was worrying him ever so slightly. He was fine though when I picked him up, and despite the rain, we went to have a picnic with Hubby – he works in a building right next door to the hospital.

As the time of the appointment approached, he began to ask what they would be doing to him – I of course couldn’t give him an exact answer, just that it was to try to get him some help for his hands because of his funny joints. He was happy with that explanation.

We were a little early and he was happy to play a few races on the Mario Kart wii game in the waiting room, but held tight to my hand once his name was called.

The occupational therapist was only about 12 – I think that is a real sign I am getting old when everyone seems to be so much younger than me!, but she was very pleasant, and spoke to D, only including me in the questions when he wasn’t being responsive. When asked if he knew why he was there he said “because I can do this”, and proceeded to do his party piece of bending his fingers the wrong way – makes my stomach churn every time he does it!

There was a second OT in the room, observing from behind, and making notes. It was a huge room and we were sat in the corner, and I don’t know about D but it did feel intimidating being observed from both sides!

Firstly they had him doing some writing, as this is our major concern. His school work suffers because he finds holding pencils so painful. We have tried different styles of grips, as has his teacher, so he was showing the OT which ones he had used in her huge array of different styles. She had him choose his favourite and set him about writing his name a few times. As usual he was gripping his pencil so hard his fingers were turning white, and his pressure was causing the paper to go through. Seeing him do this, it is amazing the things you just accept and not realise they are a little out of the ordinary! She then gave him a sloping board to use, it meant that not just the angle of his hand changed, but that of his whole body as he had to improve his posture to use it! Straight away, the writing he did was much less pushed through the paper. They decided he should be given a board to take to school to use.

He then had to demonstrate his use of scissors, which is something he usually looks so dangerous doing as he fumbles with, but instead today, he was cutting very patiently, and looked as if he had no problem there.    He so wants to please people that he made sure he did what he was asked to do, even though it was at half the speed and potentially painful.

Using cutlery has always been an issue for him, and he much prefers to use his hands.  We have not been sure if this is because of his fingers, or a sensory thing to do with his aspergers. They tried him with various styles of cutlery, having him cut up play-doh sausages, and he said it was easier with proper ones. I do think it was more a case of the chunky handles looked like ones he had when he was just starting to learn to use them so he didn’t want “baby things”. He was told to remember to make sure his hands were in the correct position – which he was shown, and then cutting would be much easier for him.

He then was shown an easier way to tie his shoe laces.   When we have tried  before,  he has ended up saying his hands are sore from trying – never convinced if its a reason or an excuse.    This way was much easier, and we will definitely be practicing with this – if he can master laces it will be so much easier to get shoes that will fit his ridiculously wide feet.

Then came buttons.     Large ones he was fine with on a garment on the table in front of him, but as soon as it got to smaller ones he was fumbling.     It was suggested a way to make it easier was to replace the tread with elastic so the button moves more to get it through the hole, so I might have to get Old person on a sewing task!    Another idea was that he always did his buttons in front of a mirror so he could actually see what he was doing – painfully simple but something we had not thought to try!

He was then taken to the matted area to test his core strength, because of his clumsiness.    His balance was dire – which I knew it would be.    I did have to remind her it was just 8 weeks since his knee op as he looked in pain as he was asked to go onto all fours!        It was suggested that he had additional sessions which are about core strengthening.     I think it will be really good for him, so readily agreed to that.     She had him trying to walk along a line on the floor, going toe to heel.   It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time as his feet were nowhere near the line however hard he tried!

They had seen enough, and decided to summarize what had been seen.

They said he needs to slow down when doing tasks – I didn’t laugh out loud at this but D doesn’t do slow, once his brain gets going, his body just has to keep up or we go into meltdown.     Their reasoning is that if he thinks more about doing things correctly it will help his body know what it should be doing.   Great theory which we will try to implement.

Then came the bomb shell.    They think its important he learns to type as the more writing he does at school the more pain he will be in!      I asked about exercises that might help strengthening his hands, and basically they said that just keep using them!     We were given a pile of handouts about tasks and games that were good for honing fine motor skills, we will defiantly be having a go at some of them.

So how do I feel now.     As usual, you come out of these thing feeling as if you are a failure as a parent.    It is nobodies fault, just the nature of sessions where strangers are telling you what you should be doing with your child, or what you have been doing wrong!      I do think its a positive getting the board to help with his writing – I did have a chuckle when thinking when I was at school, all desks were angled anyway!     I am upset that they feel becoming keyboard confident is a priority because they feel he wont improve his hand strength.      I think it is something we continue to work on in the home, and I will just keep making the play-doh for him to spend hours squeezing to try to strengthen those muscles.    The core building sessions sound as if they will be good for him, and if he can strengthen his core it has to be good for his legs.

For now though, it’s another box ticked and we move on.

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Return to normality.

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Today we return to normality.

While a lot of the country still have their feet up with the 4 day weekend, we are all back to the grind stone with Hubby returning to work and the kids back to school – there is much negative comment in the playground about the kids going back to-day here in the shire where the city kids have the day off.

These holidays seemed to have passed pretty easily, which is something I don’t often say after a two-week school break.     These shorter holiday usually really mess with M’s head because he just gets used to the change in routine before its time to get back to it.

During the first week, we kept ourselves busy with something planned for every day for the boys to do.    It is a very fine line to walk between keeping them busy enough to allow their minds to keep turning, but not so busy that they don’t realise they are meant to be chilling!

Week two was at Haven at Haggerston Castle.    It was a lovely break, and the weather was good, not warm, but dry and that’s what is important.    The boys love going to Haven.      It is great they have an environment they feel safe in.       I think we all enjoyed the break and came back feeling relaxed.

Now I am not saying we haven’t had our moments.    M has taken to keep telling D that he wishes he was in a grave.    I am not sure where this has come from, or where he might have heard something along these lines, but I find it totally vile, and punishments have been handed out accordingly.      D gets enough bullying out of the house, without feeling he gets more of the same when at home.   M has to learn quickly this type of comment is not acceptable.

D has been on an emotional rollercoaster in the past few days.     Something is worrying him but he doesn’t seem capable of vocalizing what it is.     He will sudden look really sad, and say he wants to cry.     He of course gets big hugs to make him feel safe and secure.   Sometimes this will calm him, but other times the tears have followed and he sobs uncontrollably.        He cant say what the matter is, just that he feels like crying.     Now, I am a great believer that a good cry can help to make things better, and so I would never tell him to stop crying, but it can be quite upsetting for me to see my baby breaking his heart with no rhyme or reason for it.       All we can do is let him have these moments in the hopes that they help him to sort out whatever is going on in his head so he can tell us when we he feels ready to do so.        This melancholy mood he is in, is also effecting his sleep.    Saturday night he was up three times, just needing cuddles  – I just need sleep at 3am, but he is always my priority.       It is so hard to know what to do or how to help him when he says he doesn’t know what is wrong.

Today the kids didn’t want to get organised for school.     M reluctantly got organised, but D was adamant he didn’t want to go as he doesn’t like school – that isn’t really the truth as he loves learning and totally adores his teacher, but his unhappiness is being thrown towards something tangible, and that is school.    I got him dressed and organised but walking up the road was a nightmare.   The walk takes a bout 5 minutes, but with the kids it’s usually 10, however this morning, M went on with the crowd we walk with, as D was in super go slow mood, and just held my hand as tightly as possible.       When I eventually got him into his line, he looked so sad that one Mum actually asked me what was wrong with him!     His head was down and he was focusing about the end of his nose.       I am sure once he was in and saw all of his friends he would have been fine, but it really tugs at your heart-strings to see your child looking so unhappy and knowing there is nothing you can do about it.

I am hoping they have both had a good day, and are ready to fight me over doing their homework!!!!

Getting dirty.

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The boys have always enjoyed being outside.      In fact I would say that while both of them love their computers and video games, there is nothing they enjoy more than messing about in the great outdoors.      As far as M is concerned, since he started nursery, and has continued through school, it has often been commented about that he is much happier when he is outdoors.

We have been to Haven many times over the past few years, and one of the things the boys have always enjoyed is the nature walk.    It has previously always been a session taken by one of the play leaders, and they wander a group of children around the park, looking for birds, and plants, and marking them down on a work sheet.    It has always been interesting and one thing the boys expect to do.

This year however it has all change.   When going through the entertainment timetable, there was no nature walk.     Neither boy was happy.      Then we saw something called Nature Rockz – don’t talk to Hubby about the name of the sessions as he gets quite upset by people using a “z” instead of a “s”.       It didn’t give too many details but said additional information was available at the booking point.     After swimming, I went to find out about it, and booked the boys up for the three daily sessions – each afternoon for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

The first session was a bug hunt – sounded perfect for two boys who love getting mucky!     The instructor was a scary sight, in full combat gear and make-up!   Ranger Steve.    He kept the kids in line, but his enthusiasm was amazing, as he got the kids to introduce themselves – M introduced himself to his shoes.         He then marched the kids over to his hideout in the woods – parents could go if they wanted to, so we did, just in case they weren’t happy with somebody they didn’t know.    They were talked through the environment and the type of creature they were looking for and likely to find, before being let loose to find them and get the dirtiest hands possible – M took the dirty hands part very literally and I believe that was a higher priority to him than finding the bugs!    There was great excitement amongst the kids as the first woodlouse was found, but soon all the kids were getting millipedes, worms, wood weevles, snails, and more woodlice, in their jars.         D had a few problems as he is still very aware of his knees so getting down to the dirt wasn’t that easy for him, but he happily pulled bark off dead pieces of wood to see what was under it.

The next day I forget how many times I was asked when we would be seeing Ranger Steve, and we were actually at the meeting point about half an hour early than the time,  because they didn’t want to be late!     M spoke out much easier today, and told Ranger Steve that his favourite thing was getting his hands dirty!!!!      Today the kids were building a bug hotel.     They  had to think about the type of things the bugs like to live in naturally, as so what they could use to make an environment that would make them happy.     Using old pallets, and cardboard they then added dirt, leaves and wood, before finding bugs to stay in the hotel!        Mucky hands were again order of the day.       Once more two totally engaged boys loving the information being fed to them.

The last session was the one D had been looking forward to most as it was about making a fire, and then toasting marshmallows!        It was a very interesting session and I think Hubby learned as much as the kids, so I can only imagine the next barbecue we have will be a real adventure and not just firelighters and matches!!!!      M wasn’t so sure about the burnt, I mean toasted marshmallows, but D loved them and has insisted we buy marshmallow for next time we barbecue!

They were great sessions which were totally the highlight of the holiday for the boys.     It was great to see the boys welcome someone in so easily because their knowledge and enthusiasm was infectious.     For him to engage two ASD boys so completely was amazing to see and just shows that enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm.       The boys are already talking about seeing Ranger Steve again when we go back in October so I am hoping he will still be there!!!