We have been using occupational therapy for a year and a half now. I know of families who go to more therapy appointments that we do and I know of families who go to less. Regardless, it’s emotionally draining. The appointment is only the tip of the iceberg. The day-to-day grind is where we take what we have learned in therapy (from our oh so patient and kind occupational therapist) and apply it to our all day, everyday.
What looks like an ordinary, every child does that, kind of activity has a whole new meaning when the senses are not taking in the environment properly. We are constantly finding ways to stretch and balance messages to his brain to create new pathways that will take in what the senses experience in order to participate in daily activities with ease.
What looks ordinary is my child is getting exercise and socializing with peers, but really this is outdoor therapy.
It is a place of heavy work, proprioceptive and vestibular input, much-needed spinning and swinging, and challenges for him to find the courage to try to climb just a little bit higher each time.
Repetitive joint compressions from stomping up the stairs and running across the bridges.
It’s about successfully covering skinned knees with the sticky feeling of Band-Aids that once took his breath away.
What looks ordinary is my child is having fun but really it is a place of true calm for him as he hears the water crashing against the shore. It is a place he feels like every other kid and can through his worries into the wind. This is where he dances, finding his happy place on the shoreline in his own little world.
There is order in lining up rocks or shells. It is a collection of sorted and like items to bring home. It is a heart shaped rock saved just for mommy.
It is where burying his body in the sand sends the right message to his brain; where chasing birds gives him the appropriate space to let his motor run and muscles work.
It is the place where he overcame the fear and pain of sand rubbing against our skin to experience the euphoric rush that is the seashore.
The Swimming Pool.
What looks ordinary is my child learning how to swim but really it is a place for him to have the all over pressure of the water surrounding his body.
It is tolerating the feeling of wet fabric close to his skin; overcoming the fear of putting his face and hair into the water.
Finding the right accommodations of sun shirts and just the right fitting goggles.
Constantly practicing putting sunscreen onto his skin so that slowly but surely he can do it without cringing and pulling away.
It’s trying not to be the helicopter mom sitting off to the side and using her zoom lens to watch for signs of triggers or meltdown to come while still giving him the independence, confidence, and freedom he so deserves.
As we say goodbye to summer and hello to fall and soon winter; as you see my son raking and jumping into piles of leaves, shoveling snow and sledding down hills, literally bouncing off the walls at Sky Zone and running up and down the soccer field, know that these ordinary looking experiences are making an extraordinary difference for him and for our family.