Friday, February 1, 2013

the results are in

as i mentioned before, jeremy and i had an appointment at STAR to find out the results of harrison's evaluation.

one thing we were not surprised about:  harrison did very well on the evaluation.  he is a very intelligent little boy.

one interesting fact we learned:  lucy miller, the doctor and occupational therapist who founded STAR and the SPD Foundation, conducted research of typical school age children and found that 5% of them have some type of sensory struggle.  then she did the same research in schools for gifted and talented children and found that 35% of them have sensory issues

food for thought.

one thing we were surprised about: harrison scored well - surprisingly well - on the auditory test.  here i thought he was having so much difficulty inferring meanings from the short stories but he actually scored above average in that area!  he scored average, or above average, in every area of the auditory test with exception to one.

the section i described previously when harrison was wearing headphones and two different sentences were spoken (one in each ear) at the exact same time...he completely shut down and did not even try to answer at all.  the speech pathologist honestly believes, though, that harrison was quite capable of repeating those sentences.  but when he missed the first two, the perfectionist in him kicked in...and then he may have gotten a bit dysregulated...and he didn't even try to respond after that.

again, they are going to repeat that portion of the auditory test at some point but therapists felt confident moving ahead without it at this point.

all that to say, our original hypothesis, based on what rachel ottley observed, was that harrison's main struggle is auditory processing.

these scientific guesses are just that - a best guess based on what was observed at the time.  only continued time, and therapy, will reveal whether the hypothesis was correct, or partially correct, or incorrect...and then adaptations can be made.

the new hypothesis is that harrison's main struggle is modulation, specifically sensory over responsivity.  imagine our bodies as cups.  all day, every day, our cups are being filled with sensory input.  typically, our bodies are able to easily process the input.  and we can keep our cups regulated so they maintain a fairly even level of "stuff" at all times.

harrison's cup is very small.

and his body has a hard time processing the input that's being put into the cup.

therefore, his cup is overflowing.

and what happens when you've got a cup that's overflowing?  it creates a great big mess.

here is a fabulous graphic that really helped me understand what harrison is going through:

in the center of the chart is our optimal level of arousal.  as we go throughout our day we may experience events that spike our arousal levels up into the sensory overload area.  for example, your alarm blares to wake you up in the morning so your arousal level shoots up.  but then you get into the shower, your body regulates, and your arousal level comes back to normal.  then you get to the office and every one is running around because you forgot to do something.  so your arousal level shoots up again.  but then you make a plan, make a couple calls, get the situation under control and you regulate back down to normal fairly easily.  our days are full of this type of arousal activity.  but our bodies are able to, for the most part, maintain pretty middle-of-the-graph levels. 

now.  when harrison's arousal level shoots up (because of loud unexpected noise, because i yelled at him, because daddy tickled him, because he got excited, because he saw something scary on tv, etc) it is MUCH HARDER and takes MUCH LONGER for his body to regulate and for his arousal level to come back down to optimum.   

also, you'll note how the optimal level on the graph above is approximately 1.5 inches tall.  with sensory kids, that window is shorter.  maybe half that size?  which makes it MUCH EASIER for harrison's levels to shoot into sensory overload.

so harrison's days are full of spikes.  his body is not able to maintain a middle-of-the-graph level.  he is up and down, up, up, up, up, still up, and down, and back up, all day long.

it's hard to imagine how that might feel.

**one note.  an important one.  i am not a therapist.  i really have no idea of which i speak (or type).  i'm just doing the best i can to understand all this stuff myself.  but i want to relay what i'm learning so that you can better understand too.  so...please, pretty please, just know that.  and forgive me if i've misinterpreted or misexplained anything in the above paragraphs.  or just anything at all ever.  ok.  thanks!

i need to go pick up the kiddos from school...and i think this is as good a place to stop as any.

catch ya later!  


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