Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Evaluation - continued

This is a continuation of a previous post...all a part of my attempt to document our journey with Sensory Processing Disorder and how it affects our son and our family.  To read the first part click HERE

I thought of two good examples to share that may help you understand the not-quite-normal behavior we see in our son.  Both occurred the weekend Rachel was here to evaluate Harrison.  Specifically, she was observing us during our homeschool time on Friday morning.  I believe Harrison was unsettled (in sensory-speak this is called dysregulated) by having Rachel in the room.  It may not have been her presence at all - it could have been any number of things or it could have just been an "off" day - but, whatever the case, my sweet boy wasn't having the best school day.

I gave Harrison a handwriting page - simple tracing, and then writing, of the letter L.  He started out okay but he did NOT want to complete that worksheet!  Is that a big deal?  No.  But rather than telling me he wanted to do something else...or saying "i hate handwriting"...or mentioning that his hand is tired...he crumpled up the paper.  You see, when Harrison becomes "dysregulated" the first thing he loses is his language.  In that moment, he didn't have the ability to TELL me what he needed (to stop the handwriting activity).  Instead, he used an ACTION to express himself. that time did I know that's what was happening?  Nope.  Not a clue.  I saw the crumpling of the paper as defiance and disobedience.  I was frustrated that he didn't just finish the dang work page!  It wasn't until Rachel educated me on what was REALLY going on that I began to understand that Harrison's actions are much more than just actions...they are indicators of his feelings...they are the language he is comfortable using. 

They are his words.   

Here's another instance:  That same morning we moved on to reading time.  I try to incorporate at least 20 minutes of reading time into our school day.  Mostly I read aloud but Harrison does a good job of reading smaller books, too.  Once again, while Rachel was observing reading time, Harrison started out attentive but quickly lost interest.  And, once again, he was not able to TELL me that he was 1) tired of listening 2) hated that particular book about leaves 3) needed to get up off the floor and stretch 4) was bored.  Instead he used ACTIONS - in this case, he pretended to be a walrus - to avoid dealing with the situation.  It was easier for him to create a silly distraction (being a walrus) than to simply tell me he didn't want to read anymore.

Again, I had no idea at the time that Harrison was trying to speak to me through his behavior.  Again, I thought he was just being inattentive and disobedient.  That's why I call Rach the Autism/Spectrum Whisperer - she is so great at reading and interpreting behavior!  And she's great at educating clueless moms like me about how to start doing the same! 

Later that Friday night Rach and I went out to dinner.  It was while we were there that she gently began explaining what she had observed in Harrison and her professional opinion regarding what type of help our son needed.  Some of what she said confused me.  Some of what she said touched me.  And some of what she said broke my heart.  I'll share about that next time. 

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