Everything I Need to Know I learned in OT

Everything I need to know

Have you ever tried to run in a straight line after spinning in circles?  I vividly remember trying to dizzy myself with my brother and sister when I was little. We'd spin and spin and then fall to the floor and watch the room spin around us while we remained plastered to the floor. I loved that!  It was so much fun to be aware that I was not moving even though the world around me was telling me that I was. 

My oldest son used to spin a lot as well. But he never fell to the ground to enjoy the sensations. He didn't GET the sensations! He could spin and spin and then run straight away without loosing balance.  Simply amazing.

When Sage was diagnosed with autism, the service first available to us was OT (Occupational Therapy).  For a long time, I was sure that was all that was truly needed, because of how drastic it's effects were, and the fact that we learned so. very. much.

Our OT  was our introduction into the world of Sensory Processing. 

Did you know that there are tiny hairs in your ear that gives you the sensation of movement? And if they don't work properly, you don't process movement correctly? That is why Sage could run straight ahead after his wild spinning. That was why he kept seeking it out--to give himself the vestibular (sense of motion) input that didn't come naturally.  

His OT also told us that to give him that input, all we have to do is to stop him from spinning one direction and start spinning him in the opposite direction.  

I couldn't believe how quickly he got dizzy when we simply reverse directions!  (This is also the reason why ice skaters tend to spin in the same direction during their routines, otherwise, they would be too dizzy to skate straight and keep their balance--I learned that at OT too.).

Sage also liked to jump up & down, a lot. He jumped all the time, on everything. Uncontrolled, this is a big problem!  But by being intentional, we could help his body process the proprioceptive input he was craving, but not getting on his own.  

We started jumping up & down while counting, or saying the alphabet. We put him on a sensory diet of joint compressions and jumping, along with brushing every couple hours.  (A sensory diet is when you plan in your day, specific activities. So along with his diet of food through out the day, he would have a diet of sensory input throughout his day). 

A sensory diet was our life saver. Simply amazing was the change from a boy who could not get enough sensory stimulation, to a boy who could finally, sit still. 

Then his brother came along and also developed autism. But his kind is pretty much opposite from the "brand" Sage has. He was not a sensory seeker--someone who doesn't get enough sensory input and therefore seeks it out--but a sensory avoider--someone who receives too much input and therefore retreats. He was AFRAID to move. He was tactile defensive. He wouldn't eat food while his brother would eat everything & anything, including door knobs!  Ok, he didn't EAT the doorknob, but he sure did go around licking them all. the. time.

So for Stevie, we had to learn how to "ground" him so he felt safe. We had to give him lots of big squeezes and hugs to give him the deep sensations without the pain that comes from lightly touching him.  Light touch would send him into fight or flight mode (a.k.a. panic attack) and undo any of the calming safe-feeling effects of the deep pressure.   We had him jump to help him FEEL the ground he was walking on. If you can imagine trying to walk when you can't feel where your body is in space, then you can imagine a little bit of what it must have felt like for him. The more grounded he felt, the better he was able to move around while feeling safe.  

One of the other wonderful things we learned about in OT was that the vestibular system is connected to the language system. When you activate one, you activate the other.   Have you ever seen someone pacing back and forth while practicing a speech? Or someone who says they can't think in an organized way unless they are pacing?  It is all the same thing, just more extreme with sensory processing disorder. 

We found that when we had Sage jump on the couch cushions (we learned to LET him do this, because it is good for him!) he would suddenly come up with multiple new words he'd never said before!  It was truly amazing.  Because of this, OT and ST (speech therapy) were often combined into one joint session. OT opens the pathways for ST to work it's magic too.

Isn't that all amazing? Our God is so creative. When something goes wrong in our bodies, it just highlights the wonderful & intricate workings in how we were created. 



What sensory stories do you have to tell?  

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For those of you who would like to read more on the vestibular-language connection, here is an article that addresses the topic:  "The 'Magic Cure' For Childhood Communication Problems? Team Power! by the Child Success Center Blog.



Fried Mommy With A Side Of Coffee

Fried Mommy











HOW TO FRY A MOMMY in just a few simple steps:


Child goes missing (briefly)

Child's clothing (all of it) laying by the swing

Said child found naked in the woods

Child drawing on the house with crayon

Child drawing on cars with chalk

Child attempting to pull door off hinges

Child pulling the door paneling off the door

Child pulling outlet cover off the outlet while screwed to the wall

Child screaming unnaturally loudly

Child swooshing dvd player, apple TV gadget & Wii console onto the floor 

Child hiding red wagon up the street near the swamp so he could run back to tell me about it

Child running away when called and then sitting in the middle of the street to wait for me

Child cutting his shorts with scissors

Child trying to cut hair with scissors

Child drawing on walls in house with crayon

Child refusing medicine

Child purposefully projectile vomits medicine across the room

Child grabs medicine in cup and spills on the floor

Child attempts to puke up medication multiple times

Child pees on floor in room multiple times a day

Child cleans up floor in room with direct supervision multiple times a day

Child poops on floor in room and tracks it all over room

Child throws electronics

Child pours milk on computer

Child pours milk into coffee and then onto iPad


This is the incomplete list of ONE child's summer "fun" out of our home of 4 little darlings.

And some times, this may be a list completed all in one day!

Anyone else out there relate to this? 

Oh, the joys of summer "break" with kids who NEED nonstop structure and simultaneously do NOT WANT that structure put in place for them.  




Yes, I have tried:



Picture schedules


Kid-created routines

More praying

Natural consequences

Fervent praying

Positive reinforcement

Persistant prayer

Negative reinforcement (out of desperation)

Did I mention praying?

I followed all recommendations from those who recommend, to the best of my ability considering I have other children to care for...

And I sit here typing with my beloved coffee to help me keep up with them just a little bit better than I have been,

and I am fried!  




Despite all my failed attempts to curtail my son's behavior, all is not lost:  

God has heard my cries for help!


God prompted a dear friend from our church and MOPS to ask how they could help and took it upon herself to find people who may be able to help us!

We aren't meant to do this life alone. 

We are meant to do it in the context of community,  especially with the help of the Body of Christ.


Our case manager has referred us to HCT (Home & Community Therapy) services--intensive in-homes supports with a focus purely on behavior. This service comes with a behavioral specialist, social worker and support staff! This is a short term program that usually lasts 6 months. Then, the long term specialized in home supports services will be in place that focuses on behavior and daily living skills.

And best of all?  There is ZERO waiting list. We will probably meet with the agency next week or two!  

This is huge news considering the past few weeks our case manager said there is no hope of in specialized in-home supports happening any time soon due to a long wait list and a shortage of behavioral specialists.

I am biting my internal tongue that begs to ask the question: Why wasn't this put in place before now? Why are we just now hearing of this option after all my cries for help and queries into WHEN specialized section 28 will be in place...after all my pleas to please get something in place before summer arrived?

But I know that God's timing is perfect. And even though I really think I should have known about this service option before, I also know that it wouldn't have happened until now anyway...because God's timing is just right. All the time. (Isn't that a nice tidbit of truth to defuse the situation?)


 Sometimes, it takes a Church, a Village AND a School...

On top of this incoming help, and the start of services in the next few weeks... THIS week, SUMMER SCHOOL STARTS!  Three days a week, 4 hours a day plus travel time....my boy will be in school.

Out of the house!

In a routine! (which is the primary reason FOR summer school)

And NOT bored!


Help is on the way!

And I could not be more grateful or more welcoming of this help that God is providing.

The floodgates have been opened.

A time of refreshing is on the way!




Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


I would love to hear YOUR thoughts!