Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Reminder About Sensory Issues

Last night, a few of the kids came with me to Wal-Mart to get some groceries (what? isn't that what everyone does on Friday night?!) and I found myself practically rolling in the parking lot, laughing hilariously*, when I noticed the bottoms of H's boxer-briefs fluttering over the top of his jeans waistband.  I'm not sure how anyone could have their underpants so far up in that position and not notice it, but he didn't.

I'm not telling you this story just to embarrass my son, who had a good laugh about it himself when I explained to him what was going on back there.  It's just the best way to re-introduce the concept of Sensory Integration Disorder, which is just one of a few things H lives with on a daily basis.

To us, he's just H.  Just a typical 12-year-old boy (the first 12-year-old boy we've raised anyway) and though he has many genuinely hilarious qualities about him (only a fraction of them have I shared here in the blog), he is a super great kid in a lot of ways.  He drives me crazy most of the time, but I think that's pretty much the job of a 12-year-old boy, so I guess we're good then.

Anyway, one of the blogs I recently began following to give me more ideas for teaching in our homeschool, just had a really interesting post recapping signs to look for in children who have sensory integration issues.  It's enlightening to read through the list years after having H's diagnosis and reminding myself not only of his everyday struggles, but also, just how far he's progressed because of past occupational therapies and whatever God has put on us to help him develop.  I want to include a portion of the post here (and you can take the link to read the rest of the post if you feel like it):

What Does Sensory integration Mean?
Sensory integration refers to the ability to take in, perceive, and act on sensory information in an accurate way. Our behavior is based on our perceptions of the world around us. If a child cannot correctly perceive and interpret what goes on around him, or if his balance is off and his coordination is poor, his behavior and actions are going to reflect that.
  • Children who could benefit from sensory integration therapy are notable for being unable to meet the expectations of the grownups. They are “out of synch” in the classroom.An “out of synch” child may have some of these issues:
  • Can’t maintain focus in a noisy classroom
  • Can’t sit still
  • Has a hard time internalizing and following the unspoken expectations and routines of the classroom and acts as if every day is the first day of school
  • Has continual difficulty controlling impulses
  • Lashes out when others come into his personal space
  • Refuses to interact with classroom materials such as paint, chalk, clay or glue
  • Has difficulty transitioning between activities
  • Is emotionally rigid, can’t roll with the punches, needs to be in control, has difficulty socializing in an age appropriate way
  • Has a tough time modulating behavior; can go from zero to 60 in a second; his responses are often not appropriate to the situation
  • Slumps over his desk; rubs his eyes; his handwriting is painful, illegible, and slow, with a poor grasp; he may use too much force and break his pencil frequently; he has difficulty organizing his work on the page
  • Appears to not understand what is said to him; can’t pick out teacher’s voice over other noise in classroom; can’t recall or follow long strings of instructions
  • Is easily distractible; looks up at every ambient sound or movement and then has a hard time refocusing
  • Is clumsy, trips and falls frequently, holds onto the handrail and uses step to step gait pattern on the stairs, can’t do what the other children do in gym or on the playground
  • Behaves in unexpected or inappropriate ways in noisy or chaotic environment
  • Is frequently tuned out, not present
  • Requires constant redirection and guidance from adults; takes up more than his fair share of attention
  • Does not like to play in groups, mostly chooses to play alone
  • Sits with a frozen expression in class, especially when it’s noisy
  • Is obviously bright but can’t get his work done on time; poorly organized
  • Does not have a flexible attention span; he is either unable to focus at all, or he is so hyper-focused that he is in his own world
  • Has a short attention span, poor frustration tolerance, is unable to self soothe or self regulate in an age appropriate manner
  • Is anxious, needs constant reassurance, seems lost and can’t follow directions.
* For those of you feeling sorry for our kids right about now for the heartless, cruel, mocking mother they have to live with, know this:  I look for joy in everyday things or I'd constantly be crushed under the weight of some of the challenges we face.  Raising kids is hard work!  I've found that having a sense of humor about our kids is the best way to help them learn to have a healthy sense of humor about themselves.  Don't worry, I laugh hilariously at myself, too. :)  I fully believe we all give God some good hearty laughs during our lifetime.  So I feel like He's probably okay with the delight I take in our children.

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