Starting OT again
After about an 18 month break, 7yo Grant officially re-started occupational therapy again yesterday evening. He was super-giddy with elated anticipation. Seeing Carol Lockhart again was joyous for her & me, and absolutely ecstatic for Grant. Carol spent the first 30 minutes having Grant do “heavy work” with a medicine ball and other activities really designed to wear him out. It worked somewhat.
Really, there’s nothing like a professional who thinks your kid is great. Even if Carol tells all her parents that, it doesn’t diminish my satisfaction with her. She’s so encouraging to both Grant and me.
Grant spent about 15 months in OT at ages 5 & 6, and to me, it was nothing short of miraculous. Grant has Nonverbal Learning Disorder, which bears some similarities to Asperger’s Syndrome, and comes with various fine & gross motor skill problems, and social and learning difficulties. Kids with NLD (a.k.a. NVLD) also have a propensity for sensory integration problems, and various behavioral and emotional problems as well. However, under my close supervision — and attended by a fantastic developmental pediatrician, and the OT, of course — Grant has really prospered. To most people, he appears totally “normal,” albeit quirky.
After Grant’s last spell in OT, his final evalution came up at age-level or better for most skills, so we shelved it. But, in the last 6 months or so, I’ve seen a few issues pop up that made me think it was likely time to get him re-evaluated, which we did about 6 weeks ago. It wasn’t a surprise to me that the evaluator suggested that we return him to OT. The evaluator wrote, in summary:
Grant is a delightful young boy who appears to display devations and delays with his gross motor, fine motor and visual motor abilities. He demonstrates definite differences with his ablity to process sensory input. … Problems with finger dexterity, strength an enduarnce, motor planning, bilateral integration, hand-eye coordination and sensory feedback all seem to contribute to his inability to function more age appropriately.
Grant’s various assessed skills fell from 1 year 8 months to 6 months behind where he should be for his age.
We requested Carol again since we had such a great relationship and success with her previously. Towards the end, we were only meeting for an hour once every three weeks, where she’d evaluate things, and give me a laundry list of things on which to work with Grant, which I would incorporate into his schoolwork (and our everyday lives). It worked swimmingly.
We had a great conversation on the purpose of OT. I had been a little shocked, recently, to find that OT has many detractors, who see the such therapy as simply a means of “coping,” instead of overcoming/healing/fixing problems. Carol confirmed what I already thought: she sees OT as both. Especially when kids are young, the brain can certainly learn new “tricks;” our brains aren’t etched in stone w/o the ability to gain new skills, or even overwrite poor ones. However, some coping skills may still be needed. However, a “coping skill” might be as simple as me absolutely needing a list when I go to the store: If it’s not on the list, I won’t remember it. Coping skills can be immensely helpful — not as a resignation and a sentence of doom, but to acknowledge and compensate for certain weaknesses.
Also, though we didn’t talk about this, more and more research is showing when a child’s body is physically functioning well, and developing properly, a his intellect, emotions and behavior are all positively impacted. The reverse is true, as well. There are many things about Grant’s physical body that do not function up to par, and believe it or not, I have seen first-hand that this affects the rest of the way his brain and “heart” functions.
We will meet every other week for now. Really, I am looking forward to our next meeting, to the assignments that Carol will give us, to the resources she’ll provide, and just to get her direction and encouragement.
So, I’m happy to return to OT. Grant is thrilled.