9 Months On
Updated: May 30
Input from the Occupational Therapist
Wednesday, 27th May 2020
Yesterday we had our first 'appointment' with the Occupational Therapist, a lovely lady who gave me a lot of encouragement. It's strange to think how far we've come. Last summer, it was becoming more obvious that G had Autism, but we had few connections with any professionals at that point.
Since then, we've had meetings with the paediatric consultant, teachers, the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator) and the speech and language therapist. All have helped us to understand G in a a different way and given us assurance that we're on the right track. This is much needed, as a parent, when it seems as though everything you're doing is wrong.
By the end of the phone call yesterday, I felt the benefit of the support from professionals once again. The O.T gave me ideas for bedtime and play and insights into G's sensory-seeking behaviours. I'll outline some of the ideas here, in the hope that it'll help you, too.
The first thing the O.T reminded me of was how much G needs deep pressure to understand where she is in time and space. When she crashes into things and bumps into me, or hangs off my arms or the bannister, it's because she is somehow grounding herself. It's to do with proprioceptive difficulties. She may have low muscle tone, too. Either way, things that will help her to calm at night include rocking on her stomach on a therapy ball, or bouncing about, either on the ball or on the bed. Applying firm pressure to G's hands and fingers will also calm her.
I also found out it's beneficial for G to snack on crunchy foods, like apples or breadsticks, to calm her nervous system. Interestingly, it would also help her to suck a thick drink through a straw, or blow bubbles.
Pushing and pulling will also help G. Activities like pulling heavy, wet washing out of the machine, or unpacking heavy items like tinned beans, helps her body. It's great to know there are things I can so easily implement into the daily routine. It's always good to have a battalion of strategies up your sleeve.
Finally, we talked about hair-brushing, which can be an ordeal. I usually leave a 20-minute window in the morning routine to ensure I can brush G's hair before nursery - and this isn't always enough. The O.T's tips were to administer a head massage and a bit of hair-stroking before embarking on the brushing, to desensitise her, since children on the spectrum can be very intolerant to touch. And then to limit it to about 5 brushes, followed by a break, until G could build up her tolerance and trust.
I'm so glad we live at a time when autism is being more and more understood, and this kind of support is given. Every time I speak to a professional I'm fascinated anew by autism and this new world we find ourselves in. There is a lot to learn!