Well, we had our second therapy session on Tuesday. I have decided that I am going to have to take off at 6AM to travel the 15 miles to get the hospital. Man, traffic was awful!
Anyway, back to the therapy session. They started JB on the swing. This is a roughly 2.5×4 foot padded board with ropes at all 4 corners which join together on a spring and then the spring is connects to a single rope that is attached to the ceiling (think one of those tire swings where the tire is parallel to the ground). I was curious to how JB was going to react to this. She climbed on and Ms M (the therapist) started pushing her. Not only does the swing go back and forth, it also moves around and around. This is interesting. I watch JB closely because I know that she is not that thrilled with spinning things that she does not control. She got very somber, but did not say anything. I continued to watch her. She kept moving her head to keep it in one position. I finally asked her if she was spotting. She said yes. Now, I am not talking about finding a spot and then whipping her head around to find that spot again. I mean she found a spot and never took her eyes off it! The spinning got a little harder (overall it was honestly very mild and gentle) and JB starts moving herself around the swing, once again keeping her eyes on one space. No matter how fast that swing moved she kept spinning her body on that board so that she kept her head facing the same direction, to the point that she fell off the swing a couple of times. It was only about 8 inches off a padded floor. Ms M was really impressed with JB’s coping skills, exhibited by her body spinning. She said in all the time that she has been a therapist she had never seen a child do that.
Next we moved into one of the therapy rooms. She continued to do some testing with some worksheets. After getting settled on her “wiggle seat” JB approached the worksheets with a lot of seriousness. Then we moved on to some activities on the computer. These were activities aimed at strengthening JB’s connection between what she sees and how her mind perceives it. For example, she has a very difficult time looking at a partial picture and determining what the shape is supposed to be. She also has a lot of difficulty looking at a shape and then determining what it would look like if you tipped it over or what a mirror image would look like. Ms M explained it to me that there are a couple of things at work here. One is that she has a rough time settling down due to her SPD, which is really helped with her wiggle seat. She has also not developed the appropriate pathways between her brain and her eyes, so there are times that what she sees in school is not really what her brain computes. We are also looking at making sure her eyes are truly working together and that one eye is not significantly stronger than the other. Both of these conditions can contribute to JB having trouble focusing on her school work. After the exercises on the computer, JB said that her eyes were tired and felt watery. She also blinked a lot during them as well. JB has expressed that sometimes it appears that the words on a page are moving around. We (DH and I) as well as Ms. M are going to carefully monitor her vision to determine if she needs further evaluation with a developmental eye doctor. So we ended the session with “homework” to do more of the exercises on the computer at least every other day.
I struggled about posting this publicly or password protected. I kept fairly clinical so that I did not reveal any extreme personal information about JB. But I felt that it is important that people researching SPD realize that it takes so very many forms. It affects people in so many ways. Not only is JB a typical sensory seeker, she also has other sensory issues that are probably a result of the “normal” pathways not developing during the typical developmental time frames. The other thing I want to seriously emphasize is that it can be treatable. JB has only had 2 actual therapy sessions and I can really see her self-confidence blossom. I can also see her beginning to use some of the coping skills she has been taught in therapy. I am so proud of my girl.
On the ride to her school we sang songs, quizzed spelling words and giggled – a lot! Therapy is allowing us to have some quality one on one time with each other during the drive. I need to have DH take her a few times so that he can meet Ms M and give her his input of what he sees in her behavior. But, even though I intensely dislike early mornings, I hate downtown traffic during early rush hour, I will miss those fun times with my girl in the car on those days when DH takes her.