Monday, June 14, 2010

Public Schools - and, "Hi! Has it really been that LONG?"

Well, I don't know if I'm "dead" blogging-wise, but here we go again. I think I shared on one of my previous posts that I find sharing my experiences difficult while I'm going through them.

But, here I am.

One word on getting your child into the public school of your choice. Well, OK - more than one. Here's what worked for me. First, I prayed and prayed and prayed and then prayed some more. I didn't know for sure if where I thought Nathan "should" be was really where God would have him. So, I prayed!

Then, I told the school system folks that I knew they were doing the best they could for all the kids and that situations change all the time, and that spots open up (and are filled) at Coralwood (the "it" school for me) all the time. So, I told them to be prepared that I would ask if there was a spot in Coralwood for Nathan every single time I spoke to them on the phone or in person.

So. At my last (of many) IEP meeting with the school, I was told that there WAS A SPOT for Nathan at Coralwood for the 2009-10 school year!!! Of course, at that very moment, I completely misunderstood the woman and thought she told me that he was in LINE for a spot. This means I didn't jump up and down and yell HALLELUIA!!!!! Instead, I said, "That's great!" I didn't figure it out until after the meeting was over and the woman taking notes explained it to me. Of course, I had to send a thank you letter to the woman in charge and apologize for not being more excited. (call me slow! other people have!)

That's what worked for me in the DeKalb County school system in Georgia. Many things since then - much to write. Much frustration -- which I think I'm learning is par for the course!

I will endevor to write more frequently. Coming soon - sensory diets - what they REALLY are (if I haven't already posted that). Getting one on one help for Nathan. And, what the heck are these dang IEP goals good for, anyway?

I wish you many hugs from your special kids. :-)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Helping Your Child Regulate

In my last post, I briefly mentioned the last lecture from Christy Kennedy that I attended.  It was about helping your child regulate their reactions to sensory stimulation, notice the signs (and feelings) that they're getting too much and know what techniques they can use to help themselves calm down.

The lecture was titled "How Does Your Engine Run?  The Alert Program for Self Regulation."  She based it on materials by Mary Sue Williams and Sherry Shellenberger, OT/owners of Therapy Works, Inc (877) 897-3478. (name copyrighted by Therapy Works, Inc.)

What I took away from the lecture is that as parents and therapists, our job is to help our kids begin to understand what is going on and how they can help themselves.  Therapy Works has come up with a language that they use with children to help them relate to how they are doing sensory-wise.  They talk about our bodies as having engines that can run low, high or just right.

Here is what I can tell you about how their process works.   I also should add the disclaimer that I'm 100% positive that it will be difficult to move from my level of understanding to actually DOING this with Nathan to help him.

First, they say it is a good idea to know yourself.  What are the things that completely de-rail you, addle your brain, discombobulate you?  What has just happened when you can't think at all?  Do you have any little rituals/exercises/whatever you want to call them that you do when you get in a bad place that help you organize your thoughts, think again and function more normally?

This was hard for me.  I think that observing yourself can be extremely difficult.  We are nothing if not completely biased and skewed observers of ourselves. :-)

I have been able to observe one thing.  When my house is cluttered (particularly the kitchen countertops), I have a VERY hard time focusing on anything.  I have a hard time organizing what I need to do into small tasks that I can actually complete.  If left unchecked, I can easily fly off the handle from the 'stress' of it.  My tactic to handle this is to breath deeply, stop talking to anyone else, and force myself to plan the smaller tasks I need to complete to begin to get my bigger task done - which is most often first to clean up the kitchen so I can then begin to think about other things.  If I can't clean the kitchen, I know that I absolutely must at least leave the kitchen if not the house in order to be able to think.  If I am unable to do so - I know that the most I'm going to be able to take care of is whatever small, immediate thing is staring me in the face at any given moment.

Nathan whining is another thing that completely throws me for a loop.  I have no coping mechanism for this right now - I don't know how to handle it.  I do try to 'shake off' whatever it is about it that makes me crazy by breathing deeply, kneeling down to his level and talking to him to try to figure out what is up.

After you understand yourself, you can begin to more clearly observe your child and begin observing what helps and what doesn't help them.  Christy was pretty adamant about the fact that she really thinks it is a good idea to keep a list of things that you observe - for your own sanity.

What are you looking for?  Activities that seem to send your child off the deep end (too much running around, unable to respond to your requests, too goofy, unable to easily transition from one activity to another).  And, then, when they get to that 'bad place,' can you observe what things really seem to help them get into a better place?

The idea of knowing yourself helps in several ways:
1) You are able to more easily observe things in your children
2) When you are reacting to your child being in a bad place, you can stop and make an assessment about whether or not it is YOU that is in the bad place and not your child.
3) Having been able to make these observations, you can explain things more to your child - making them part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

As you are observing your child, the idea is to be experimenting.  As you can see them starting to get ramped up, are there any things that you can do (playfully, of course) to help them keep from going over the top?  Here is where I am lost.  Huh?

Some things that Christy has talked about are 1) swinging, 2) hugging, 3) squishing them with big pillows, 4) getting them to carry heavy things from one place to another.

She also suggested making a game of it.  "Hey!  Let's see how this makes us feel."  You do it.   "Wooaaaahhhh, that doesn't make my tummy feel very good.  I feel kinda sick.  How did it make you feel, Nathan?"  Or, "Wow, that made me a little tired.  Do you want to sit down for a minute, Nathan?  How do you feel?"

After you've been able to observe your child and make a list, you can begin to talk to them using the engine analogy (if it works for you).  You can use the engine analogy about yourself as well.  

An example that Christy Kennedy used with us.

"Wow!  That car just cut us off!  That was dangerous!  That made mommy really angry.  Wow, my engine is running really high right now.  This doesn't feel good.  What can I do to help my engine run slower?   Oh, let's talk about something else...  Nathan, where are we going?  I think we are going to have fun there.  What are we going to do there?  Oh, that makes me feel better.  Thank you, Nathan!  Thank you for helping mommy feel better by talking about something else."

By talking about your own emotions this way, your child can begin to see how it's OK to talk this way.  For kids who are too literal to talk about their body as having an engine, she sometimes uses talking about their heart - how it feels like it is going too fast or too slow; she also just uses feeling words for other children.

Christy's advice once we begin to try these things is to keep as good a diary of our 'experiments' as possible.  So, if I was doing this (which I'm not doing such a good job at right now), I might make a note in my diary that Nathan calmed down faster in my arms last night when I had NOT played chase with him after 4:30pm.  I'd also have to note that he was WAY over-tired (which is  my confusion re-asserting itself...  how much of this crap is just my child being over-tired?  I'm sure Christy has an answer to that one).

Another thing she said was that is it important to help our kids understand that it is OK to get angry or upset or hurt.  The idea is to teach them the OK ways to respond to those feelings and the not-OK ways to respond to them.  (Uhm...  how much of this just sounds like good parenting advice?  Hmmmm...)

Okay - that's all I got from the lecture.  It isn't enough for me to be able to know what the heck I'm doing with Nathan.  I think it is enough for me to start observing what is going on in a slightly more informed way.

Here is what I think I'm observing with Nathan -- I think he's becoming less "low-sensory" if that makes any sense.  I think his senses are waking up.   I think he isn't used to it and that he is having a hard time regulating things.  My guess is that this leads to him having a very difficult time settling down for naps and at night.  Now, this is very skewed towards Nathan's "norm."  By no stretch of the imagination would another mom look at Nathan and think that he's over-stimulated or over-excited.  :-)  He's still a calm, agreeable kid.  And, most of the time, he can still respond to requests from me - as a matter of fact, he does it more often now.  BUT, that doesn't mean that his nervous system is used to it.

The best way to help him at this moment?  No idea.  What I'm doing?  Rocking him more at night in the hopes that I can help him calm down.  Trying not to play chase as much in the afternoons so he won't get too high.  No clue if it will work.

So, here's to happy and appropriate play with our kids!  Play on!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Progress & Sensory Integration confusion

Well, it's been a while because I've been all over the map with how I'm feeling about Nathan's progress.  Not that I'm unhappy, but it is so hard to know what to do to help the little guy.  And, THAT is frustrating.

First, our progress and my confusion around it.  While Nathan still doesn't really seem to notice strangers (it is more than being shy - it is like they don't exist for him.  Most of the time, he doesn't acknowledge that they are there at all), he seems to be becoming more and more engaged with his environment.   He is more interactive with his father and me as well as with his therapists and our nanny.  He responds to our requests more often and follows directions more often -- not ALL the time, though. :-)  I suppose I have to wonder 'what kid does, though?'   So, he does seem to be waking up, sensory-wise.

My confusion is in a couple of areas.  Now that he seems to be responding and being interactive more often; how on earth do I tell if he's just ignoring me or if he just isn't noticing that I'm talking?  I know that sounds weird.  You're probably thinking, "Duh, lady, he's ignoring you like every other kid does."   Well, if you saw how much he just doesn't seem to notice some people and things, maybe you'd wonder too?  Maybe I'm thinking too much about it?  

Second area of confusion - his sleeping.  Nathan has always fallen asleep for his nap rather easily and then had a very difficult time falling asleep at night.  Well, after talking to Christy Kennedy (OT who held Sensory Integration lectures), we thought maybe it was because Nathan is not very awake at nap time and then more awake (sensory-wise) in the evening because he's had all day for his senses to become more aware.  Hence, it takes him a while to wind down at night.

So, I think I might have a low sensory-aware kid.  I'm helping him wake up and become more sensory aware.  This part is great.  He's having more fun!  It's wonderful to see him try new things and really enjoy himself.  When I try to get Nathan to change activities when he's super engaged in something, I check to see how much he protests.  While he used to not protest at all, now I get some protesting.  This is a good thing, it means he's engaged and more awake sensory-wise (I think).  

Another good thing is that he doesn't appear to be in the red zone sensory-wise.  Meaning, he does protest, but not too much and I'm able to get him re-engaged in another activity fairly easily.  Is it too easy?  I don't know - is it fairly easy because, even though he's more sensory-aware, he's still low sensory?  It is fairly easy because he just has an easy-going personality?  How much of this is sensory integration and how much of it is personality?

And, more confusion.   How do I help a child whose nervous system isn't used to receiving so many sensory signals calm down?  He doesn't APPEAR to be in the red zone, but maybe he is?  It's so new to him that he might actually be over-stimulated even though he doesn't look like it.  

What I observe is now it is sometimes hard to get him to fall asleep for his nap.  And, now it is even harder for him to settle down at night.  And, oh by the way, he's 3.  So, is he just getting to the point where he doesn't need a nap?  I don't think that's it because I can see that he's tired.  But, still.  How much can someone think about this stuff!?!?!

So, there you go!  Ahhhh!!!!  I've been grappling with this for a week - hence the lack of posts.

Our last (for the time-being) lecture from Christy was about helping your child regulate their stimulation, notice the signs that they're getting too much and know what little techniques they can use to help themselves calm down.    

The lecture was titled "How Does Your Engine Run? The Alert Program For Self Regulation".  She based it on materials by Mary Sue Williams and Sherry Shellenberger, OT/owners of Therapy Works, Inc (877) 897-3478.

My understanding, which is very limited due to all the other things going on in my head, is that, as parents and therapists, our job is to help our kids begin to understand what is going on and how they can help themselves.  Ms Williams and Shellenberger have come up with a language that they can use with children to help them relate to how they are doing sensory-wise.   They use the idea of your body having an engine that can be running low, just right or high.

More on "How Does Your Engine Run" next time...

Happy playing!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sensory Diet

Okay!  Whew, what a weekend.  Hurt my back and can't pick up my own child...  Sad state of affairs!

So - what the heck is a sensory diet?  By the way, as your OT gets to know your child, he or she should be making suggestions about a sensory diet for your child.  If they aren't - ask.

A sensory diet, as I understand it, is different experiences that you design for your child to be exposed to.  As Christy Kennedy explained it, you spend time figuring out what experiences help your child get into a 'good place,' and you plan time into your day for those types of experiences.  What we're doing, again, is getting our children into a place where their nervous systems are able to take in sensory input and respond to it in an appropriate way - and we're doing that over and over again to make these 'paths' automatic for our kids.  The goal is to help our children be able to respond appropriately to more and more different situations.

So, what the heck does it mean for your child to "be in a good place."  For me, it is particularly difficult.  Nathan is such a good natured child (or low-sensory aware) that he is nearly always behaving in a way that is pleasing to us.  And, he can't talk to tell us when he's uncomfortable or not wanting to do something.  He does let us know both verbally and non-verbally if he feels strongly about something - so, we're getting there.   That part is nice.

The way Christy explained "being in a good place" is that your child is able to listen to and respond to your requests.  The way she does it with her kids is occassionally she'll say something like "freeze!"  or "red light!" to get them to stop their rowdy play.  Then, depending on the age and capabilities of the child, she might ask them a question or ask them to do something - now, these are very small requests.  For instance, "name three colors," "name three cities,"  "what are your favorite three cartoon characters?"  

For us, because Nathan isn't talking and because he sometimes responds to our requests and other times doesn't appear to notice that we made a request at all (is he ignoring?  it's SO hard to tell!), the idea is to watch for situations when Nathan responds to our requests (Nathan, can you pick up your magnet before we close the door?) and then think about what we were just doing together (or what he was doing with the nanny) to figure out what kinds of activities put him in a place where he seems to be able to hear us and respond to our requests.  

Now, I'm sure this isn't going to be easy.  As a matter of fact, it looks to our nanny (Lynne!  you are wonderful!) that Nathan always hears her when she asks him to do things.  It is just that he sometimes ignores her.  Is he ignoring or is he just in a place where he isn't very sensory-aware?  This is going to require some very careful observation on our part.

Our current OT keeps telling me that we need to provide Nathan with sensory rich experiences.  I asked her what she means by that - she tells me that it is exposing him to all kinds of things with different textures; playing music for him; letting him swing; hugging him; squishing him with pillows; and more.  So, I'm thinking of getting bins and filling them with dry beans, rice, and, later with sand for the tactile stuff.  We haven't done this yet - partially because I know we're all really not looking forward to all the vacuuming that it is going to mean.  We do run around with him and squeeze him when we catch him, throw him on the sofa (very soft sofa) and squish him with pillows (he laughs and laughs while we do this) and let him swing every day.  So, I think we're doing a lot of what she is asking us to do -- so why do I always feel like I'm not doing enough!?!?!

Report on The Listening Program.  I got to see Nathan with the headphones on today.  His response wasn't as remarkable as it was last week (both Lynne and the OT, Melanie reported this), but he did gradually become more aware of the room and to us while he had the headphones on.   We're doing to use the music one more week in OT and then determine which program we're going to purchase.   There are many places to purchase this The Listening Program from.  We'll probably make an online purchase and save about $400; but, purchasing online means that the support help we'll be getting will be online as well.  But, $400 is a pretty significant amount of money to pay just to get help from people we can look at while we're talking to them.  Again, this program takes 40 weeks to do - so, we'll be working for a year.  Hopefully we'll see some good results!

Happy playing with your kids!   Hope you can pick them up. :-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Listening Program / Special Ed

Okay - I didn't post last night because I wanted to wait until after I met with the DeKalb County evaluation folks today.  Now I feel like I might have too much to post.  If it gets too long, I'll just have to finish tomorrow!

I met with Nathan's occupational therapist yesterday afternoon about The Listening Program.  Here's how it works.  It is 10 cds that the patient (child or adult) listens to 1 time a day for 15 or 30 minutes during the 5 week days.  Weekends are 'off.'  Each cd contains...  I think 4 segments.  With the OT group we're working with, it generally takes 20 weeks to go through the cds from 1 to 10.  Then, they go back through the cds from 10 to 1.  So, overall, the program takes 40 weeks the first time through.

The cds contain 3 different 'zones' of acoustically  altered music.  The first zone is lower frequency sounds intended to target sensory integration overall.  The music is special - I can't give enough info about it - check out The Tomatis Method for info on it.   The second zone contains only music in the frequencies of conversation.  So, very low and very high frequencies have been removed.  This section of the cd's is intended to help with language.  The third zone contains only high frequencies.  This set is intended to help with energy.

I called our developmental pediatrician about this program before meeting with the OT.  He has seen both great and non-existent results with the program.  He said that he would absolutely go for it if we'd seen Nathan react the way that he did on Monday.

Okay, here is my very nominally informed theory (very dangerous ground).  There are so many ways to have sensory integration issues - audio, visual, tactile, vestibular (movement and balance), propreceptive (sense of where you are in space and where your limbs are in relation to your body), smell, taste and more.  Because there are so many different areas of sensory input and senses to have integration issues with, it seems to follow in my nominally informed thinking that the same solution wouldn't work for every sensory system.  So, the same thing might work great for one person and have no effect on another person.  The brain is a very complicated organ!  And, the brain is where all this integration of sensory input occurs.

So, if Nathan responded well (I still haven't seen it - we couldn't get the headphones on him yesterday afternoon - uuuurrrrgh!) to the auditory therapy that The Listening Program is, then maybe his biggest issue at the moment is auditory.  Who knows.  We're certainly willing to try it.

I'm painfully aware of the fact that I'm constantly searching for a silver bullet and that there may not be one.  I can't stop myself.  It's like my brain knows it isn't helpful, and my heart just can't seem to stop.

Okay - very quickly (because I totally forgot that I have sensory integration learning to share - I'll do that next time), the meeting with DeKalb County Public Schools for Nathan's evaluation was interesting.  They were extremely accommodating to us - I suppose because Nathan is so young.  The 'test' was LONG.  2 hours.  Ridiculously long for a 2-3 year old.  We had two people testing Nathan at the same time - a developmental specialist and a speech/language pathologist.  I think they wore him out.  We were sitting at the end of the table with the developmental tester on our left and the speech/language tester on our right - they were sitting around the corners of the table from us.  So, we everyone was quite close.  The developmental tester would be doing something with Nathan, and the speech/language lady would get her stuff set up - right in his line of vision and distract him.  I don't know, maybe that is part of the test, but it didn't seem like it.

Nathan behaved fabulously.  He is such a great kid.  We went an hour past his snack time, and, thank the heavenly father above, he did not melt down.  WOW.

At the end of the test, I asked them what their initial thoughts were.  And, of course, they didn't tell me a thing - really, because they can't.  But, it was still hard to hear!

What they did tell me was that Nathan's eligibility for special education wouldn't be up for negotiation - that he had to score some number (can't remember - 1 or 2?) standard deviations below the mean score in at least two areas in order for him to be eligible.  They also told me that if he's eligible, they will make a recommendation about how they think they can best serve Nathan, but parents have a BIG say in that.  So, while I can't beg for him to be eligible if he isn't, I can say exactly how I want it to go if he is.   I think I can live with that -- well, I might have a different attitude if he isn't eligible!

Deep Pressure and Joint Compression update - we have stopped doing the 'brushing' or deep pressure program with Nathan for now.  He was taking longer and longer to fall asleep at night.  I think it was just a LOT of input for him.  I can say that we've noticed him being more interactive and responding more to our questions and requests of him.  I don't know for sure if it has been that program that has caused these changes - we have a new nanny who talks to Nathan a LOT more in addition to adding in the DP and JC program (too much typing!).  I talked to the OT about stopping.  She was fine with it because we'd been doing it for 2 weeks (the minimum that the developers of the program say it should be used).  I told her I'm not against trying again, but I really think that Nathan needs a break.

Okay - I can't wait to share with you what I learned from Christy Kennedy about Sensory Integration yesterday.  But, it's too much to write now; this is too long already, and it's getting late...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hearing Therapy?

Okay, I realize I may be therapy-crazy right now.  Read past the craziness if you can.

This morning, I had jury duty. So Lynne, our great nanny, took Nathan to occupational therapy without me.

During therapy, Melanie put headphones on Nathan and was playing classical music for him.  Lynne said that he immediately seemed to become more focused and able to pay more attention to the room and people around him.  Okay - wow.  What was that?  I have shot off an email to Melanie (therapist) to get her thinking.  Meanwhile, of course I can't bear to NOT search the web for anything I can find (you know my method, ask everyone and search the web and see what seems to agree and make the most sense).

I searched on headphones and occupational therapy and any number of other combinations of words like that.  I found two things.  

First, I found The Listening Program.  And, guess what?  My new occupational therapist just happens to be a provider for this program.  So, this must have been what Melanie was doing with Nathan.  Interesting!  Reading more, I am learning that this type of 'learning therapy' helps children with all kinds of issues - people with all kinds of issues actually.  The types of behaviors it helps sound a bit like Nathan - an exception is that they say children with these types of hearing/learning issues tend to be frustrated.  Nathan doesn't seem to be a frustrated child.  He is very agreeable.  My guess is that these frustrated kids aren't 3 - they're 6 or 7.  I could be wrong, though.

Second, I found an overview of the research that this program is based on - The Tomatis Method .  This website is fascinating.  The method has been scientifically researched and studied and has been shown to help all sorts of issues - ADD, ADHD, Autism, learning delays, language delays (hello!  that's us!) and more.  Dr Tomatis' research shows that how we hear affects our ability to learn.  He found that the right ear (directly attached to the left brain) is more attuned to language learning.  He also found that we can TEACH our ears/brains to hear better.  He developed special headphones and music to facilitate training our hearing.  

This is all I know right now.  I will report in as I learn more. I have my 2nd sensory integration lecture this Wednesday.  Needless to say, I'll be asking about this.  And, I'm going to call our developmental pediatrician to see what he thinks.  

Oh, and on top of all this for a hyper mommy, we have our Dekalb County school system evaluation this Thursday morning to see if Nathan will be accepted into the special preschool that Dekalb Co runs for special needs kids.  It is a mixed environment - so, typically developing kids are in class with the special needs kids.  I have not heard one bad thing about this place.  I can not wait to learn more about it!   

Most school districts now have a special needs preschool environment that children with special needs can attend starting at age 3.  It's kind of strange here in Georgia - they can start when they TURN 3.  So, if your child turns 3 in March, they can go there through the end of May before school is out for the summer.  Nathan turns 3 in November, so he'll have most of the school year.   

Honestly, I don't know how to tell you to find these places.  If I hadn't been pointed to it by our early intervention program here in Georgia, I think I would've just called the school district.  School district people should know where to send you to get your child the help that you need.

Needless to say, I have to calm down - last week it was the Deep Pressure and Joint Compression program.  This week it is The Listening Program.  It's important to keep perspective - he's a kid.  We need to have FUN with him and LOVE him!

So, on that note, I'll leave you with a - happy playing! 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sensory Integration - wow

Yesterday, I attended the first of a four-lecture series on Sensory Integration given by an occupational therapist, Christy Kennedy, with years of experience studying the brain and working with children.  I'm looking back over my notes trying to figure out what I learned - it was so much information!

I can tell you that I walked away wanting to learn more about brain stem function.  There is a 'thing' (don't know much about what it is) called Hypothalamus that has a regulatory function over appetite.   Interestingly enough, I just worried about this out loud the other evening!  So often, I'm asking myself - "Is Nathan full?  Will he throw it all up if I feed him one more bite?"  You see, Nathan often does not indicate when he's full.  So, I have to glean that information from signals that he gives with his body.  It's hard!  I need to learn more about this hypothalamus thing!  

Just to give you an idea of what that is going to look like - I'm going to talk to my nutritionist and GI doctor.  I'll talk to my pediatrician, I'll go back and talk to Nathan's neonatologists from the NICU.  So, I'm going to get information from traditional medicine.  And, I'm going to also talk to every therapist who I think might have some education around this brain stem thing.  I'm finding that most good therapists will tell me if they don't have a clue about something and will point me towards people who may be able to help me.  THEN, I will be able to take what I find out on the wonderful wide web and maybe understand a little bit of it.

I'm finding that this learning around things that might be affecting Nathan's development isn't easy!  It takes a lot of footwork/phone work, whatever you want to call it. 

Back to the lecture, I also came away from the lecture realizing that a lot of Nathan's little social idiosyncrasies may be sensory integration issues - so, maybe we can help him be more social with some therapies.  

Briefly - we take in information about our surroundings and our bodies through way more than five senses.  Our bodies transmit that information through our nerves to our brain stem where our brain organizes the information and routes it to the area of the body that needs to respond.  Sensory integration issues are about the brain not being able to handle some portion of that pathway efficiently or well.  

She explained that no one's nervous system performs perfectly all the time.  Those days when you bump into everything or drop everything - that is an example of having issues with integrating your senses with your body.   Hey!  We have a real reason for those days when we're having "issues!"  Isn't that great!?!?!  

Christy also said that everything affects how our body transmits these signals.  Diet.  Chemicals in our body can either help or hinder how well signals travel.  Sleep.  We intuitively know that.  How much stimulation you get in any given day.

One big thing I came away with was an understanding of a couple of things that occupational therapists are trying to do.  

First, to build success in sensory responses to make the neural pathways more automatic for a child.  So, visually - the ball comes at you, raise your hands to catch it.   In any system that Nathan might be having issues, we want to help him make those neural pathways more automatic.  That helps my understanding!  

Second, they try to help a child be less (or more - depending on their issue) sensitive to certain stimulus.  By doing this, they can increase a child's capability to learn because they are either less sensitive to distractions in their environment and able to focus easier or more aware of their environment in order to be able to pay attention to something outside of themselves.  

Overall, I came away with a hopefulness that I can actually learn about this stuff and help Nathan.  Yay!

I can't say much more about the lecture; it was too much information!  I do know that a website that I posted a few days ago really made me more aware of different behaviors that might actually be sensory integration issues.  That site is:

With Christy Kennedy's permission, I will post her contact information to find out how you might be able to attend her lecture series or gain access to the information in it.  She is in the  Atlanta, Georgia metro area.

A quick report on the Deep Pressure and Joint Compression program we're working on with Nathan, he's making more and more noise; he doesn't seem to be as bothered when his hands get messy; and, he is walking in the grass with bare feet without even thinking about it.  Cool stuff!

An honesty report - I still haven't managed to work the oral therapy program into our day.  Ugh!

Happy home therapy-ing and playing!