sidenote: i'm sure you can imagine how this fight-or-flight state could easily cause sensory kids to develop anxiety issues. they are always wondering, worrying, about what might set them off next. i can see tidbits of anxiety in harrison, but nothing concerning at this point. our hope is to head that off.
so. all this begs the question, "what are we going to do about it?"
the goal of therapy is to increase the size of harrison's "optimal level of arousal" window (go back and look at the graphic again if you need to) so that he does not become dysregulated as easily or as often. therapy will also teach harrison, and retrain his brain/central nervous system, to regulate himself so he doesn't spend as long up in the "sensory overload" area and can level out more quickly.
another sidenote: did you know that the very first stage of development - the very first thing babies learn how to do - is self-regulation? at first we moms need to help our babies regulate. maybe we swaddle them, or swing them, or rock them, or sing to them. but quickly they learn how to soothe (aka regulate) themselves. it's the foundation of who we are as human beings.
this is a picture rachel ottley drew for us when she was explaining what spd is all about. notice #1 says regulation. it's the very first stage of development. #6 is logical and emotional thinking.
this graph shows the same thing. basically, if there are missing pieces in the foundation, the higher level elements at the top of the pyramid might also be cracked. in harrison's case, the higher level areas he struggles with are social participation, interactions with others, emotional regulation, emotional thinking and communication. the reason he struggles with those things is all because his over-responsive sensory system causes him to get dystregulated.
harrison's foundation is cracked.
therapy will repair those cracks.
the honest is answer is that i have absolutely no idea. that's why god made occupational therapists. and god bless occupational therapists! man, they are incredible people! what would we have ever done without our precious occupational therapist friend?
what i do know is this: therapy will look like play time. fun, exciting, tons-of-movement activities. STAR's first rule is that harrison has to LOVE it, or they won't do it. they will monopolize on the things harrison enjoys and the things he does well in order to build up the areas in which he struggles.
it's also our understanding that juliana, harrison's OT, acts as a co-regulator. her job is to play with harrison, notice if he is becoming dysregulated, help him regulate, then once he's back to "normal" she will create a problem for him - something that he might struggle with, something that might cause him to dysregulate - and then she'll help him regulate again. it's a cycle.
and all the while harrison will be having fun.
like i said, incredible people, those OTs!
now. i might not be explaining therapy correctly. heck, i might not even be understanding it correctly! all that matters, though, is that juliana understands harrison and she knows how to help him. and she will be teaching jeremy and me how to help him, too.
so, all good things.
next time i'll share one example of how we do "therapy" play sessions at home, which would be fun for any child, not just sensory kids. rachel modeled how to play with harrison in a therapeutic way while she was here back in september. and juliana has given us some ideas too. i'm sure once we begin our actual therapy appointments at STAR we will learn much more.
alright. off to do something productive around the house.
ha! if you believe that i've got you very fooled! :-)