Monday, July 23, 2012

Understanding a sensory diet and how to create one for your child

Sensory processing in itself is a puzzle, previously I have spoken about how it can be like a cake, if you get the ingredients right it can be great, but if you don't it can be a total disaster, this can be just the same with our children. What is discussed when you have a child with sensory issues is a sensory diet. It sounds like food but it is about our senses, every child has a individual recipe. First of all you need to know what your child's sensory profile is, you can find this out by doing the sensory processing disorder checklist that I have discussed in other posts. From this information you will know in what areas you need to focus and strengthen on. Also I would be observant of the things that your child does that indicate what their sensory needs are examples could include: chewing on everything, fiddling, running, crashing into things, climbing all over the couch, jumping on the bed.

In the next post I will post some photos of what we have been doing at home to work on sensory issues. We are waiting for a parcel in the post with some goodies.  What we already found useful for us 

- giving breaks after school before homework, especially including physical activity

- listening therapy, helps in many ways

- structured activities such as art, colouring in

- audio when going to bed such as music or an audio book

- fidget tools when anxious

- giving opportunities for your child to broach activities that they find difficult in a safe atmosphere can de-sensatize them and help them cope in the future

Ideally it is best to work with your Occupational therapist on this but you can incorporate some simple activities into your day that potentially can make a difference please check out Sensory Smart and their article Sensory Diet Activities for children which lists activities for each sensory area a lot are very simple tasks that we naturally do with kids, that also has a sensory value. If you have any ideas that really work for you, please comment and let us know what makes a difference in your home!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

But wait there's more

It feels like a black hole of questions sometimes. Is what we have been given as a diagnosis it, or is there something more. Struggling with what I saw and what he struggled with and also hoping for something to answer the struggles. Wanting more for my son, wanting answers so that we can relieve part of his burden. Living in a constant state of instability not knowing how school feels, how he is really doing, does he feel safe, can he speak. Does he need help, can he ask for help. Living with the after effects of anxiety and stress on his body. Coming home exhausted, tired, emotionally spent. Knowing that a day when he is able to do everything he doesn't cope, he comes home and falls apart. It feels like grasping, trying to see in pitch blank darkness. Not knowing when to relax or when to be alert. 

Then comes answers or something. We travelled to Perth for another appointment. We get one diagnosis at least that explains some of his struggles. The pediatrician explained that my son is just like a perfect storm his anxiety affecting his speech stops him from asking for help from learning, then his speech limits him understanding and processing, then a new word his hyper-mobility issues then add to the list exhaustion, tiredness and sore muscles. Answers to the questions you forgot to ask about about the odd comments of his legs are sore. His struggles to write and expression and how long it takes him. Next step is more testing and assessment appointments with a Rheumatologist, a fresh assessment of his Selective Mutism by a psychologist and a speech therapist as well a MRI and EEG to rule out a certain type of epilepsy (Landau-Kleffner syndrome). 

Back to the new diagnosis of hyper-mobility this presents are over flexibility. A test is done on their movements to determine if they have typical flexibility this is measured by the Beighton Hypermobility Score. If a child scores above a certain level this indicates hypermobility as a diagnosis. How does it present in a child. 

A physiotherapy clinic in Perth describes these symptoms on their website:

"What the parent may notice a myriad of symptoms, of which the child may have some or all:
  • Tiredness, fatigue more than peers or other siblings of the same age
  • Toddler - wants to be in the pram a lot
  • School age - too tired to walk home or walk to car from classroom
  • Exhausted more than peers/siblings at end of the day
  • Pain
  • Night pain
  • More frequent growing pains
  • Frequent strains/pains
  • Recurrent subluxations,  dislocations or fractures (commonly knee cap, elbow, shoulder)
  • “Pulled elbows” in toddlers and babies
  • Coordination issues
  • Awkward running, difficulty putting clothes on in morning
  • Difficulty keeping up with handwriting in early school years (either slow to finish or messy writing)
  • Some are very coordinated and some poorly coordinated

Some of these symptoms could easily describe my son, at the moment he is struggling a lot after school with tiredness, we now understand why. At school he struggles with the time allocated to do tasks. He has complained of sore legs and we never understood why and often didn't take it seriously. However he doesn't tick all of these boxes, but enough to confirm this is what he is experiencing. 

At this point we are waiting for more information on how bad this really is. I know I have had a lot of his symptoms mainly in the area of flexibility and it hasn't been a dramatic issue for me. However I can see that for Josiah it is quite different. We have a few appointments booked in a few weeks hopefully all will become crystal clear then.