this is a photo of our fridge. a couple of items on this fridge are telling signs that occupational therapy is helping harrison.
see this note? harrison went on a school field trip to denver's museum of nature and science yesterday. he had to take a 100% disposable sack lunch along with him. i wrote him a little note and tucked it next to a couple vanilla sandwich cookies. after i picked him up he pulled the note out of his pocket. i was shocked he kept it! he read it out loud to me and told me how he showed it to his teacher and read it to her. this mommy's heart was overflowing. but then...as i was making dinner last night i turned to open the fridge and saw that he hung it front and center, just below a red heart valentine he made for me a while back. i was shocked he kept it AND he displayed it!
this has been one of the biggest changes we've noticed in our son: his ability to give and receive affection.
he gives more hugs. he gives more kisses. he is better at receiving hugs and kisses. he cuddles up on our laps more. he is better about using his words to tell us when he doesn't want to be touched. he is better about using his words to tell us when he does. he is better about using words to tell us HOW to touch him (firm pressure, but not too tight).
these are all great steps in the right direction.
this photo shows a paper juliana sent home with us. she uses this scale at STAR center and thought it would be beneficial for harrison to have one at home. we use it to rate activities, 0-10. you can see the facial expressions associated with each number. this helps harrison:
1) recognize emotions
2) identify what the emotion is - happy? sad? angry?
3) associate the events in our day with a number on the scale and be able to discuss them
4) most importantly, and this is really hard for him, understand that if something bad happens while doing something fun (you fall down while playing baseball) it does not mean that the entire event was bad. sure, it really hurts to scrape your knee (rating = 0 or 1), but you can recover and get back outside and have fun again (rating = 10)!
this has been huge in helping harrison learn to regulate again after becoming dysregulated.
it's also been huge in helping him talk about emotional things.
just the fact that he is comfortable using this scale is a great step in the right direction!
other changes we've noticed in harrison, in no particular order:
i frequently hear "hey mommy, guess what..." or "mommy, i forgot to tell you something..." or "guess what we did today..." followed by actual back and forth communication with my son!
he actually wants to pick up the phone and call people, mostly memeandpapa.
our friends came by yesterday and harrison actually stopped what he was doing outside, came inside, started up a conversation by saying "i went to the museum today".
when discussing things he'll say, "i have an idea.." and proceed to tell me his plan.
in general, there are many more circles of communication now as opposed to me PULLING information out of him and only getting one word responses.
he has been writing about his feelings. just recognizing what he feels is a big deal. being able to write about it (even if he can't quite verbalize it yet) is an even bigger deal.
in general, he interacts so much more with us and others!
now, it has to be said that he still interacts with others in a socially awkward way. part of this may be his age - silly boy humor is at an all time high at the moment. but in my heart i know part of it is that he's just a bit socially awkward. sweet boy.
i've also noticed that he does not crash into me when i pick him up from school anymore. at least he hasn't for a couple weeks. i guess we'll see if that behavior starts up again.
there are still a number of behaviors that we do deal with:
i mentioned the social awkwardness.
he still needs to chew on his 'chewies'.
during his birthday dinner he said something funny and every laughed. he got instantly upset/angry, turned around and held his fists to my face as if he was going to hit me. i tried to calm him and he was fairly quickly able to go back to opening presents. later i was able to discuss it with him. he said just got so surprised when we laughed. so it's clear that unexpected things - especially if they are loud and especially if he doesn't understand why they are happening (he had no idea why we were laughing) - are dysregulating to him. the other piece of this scenario goes back to him understanding the social connection that humor = laughter. he just doesn't get it. he still doesn't really understand humor, or what's considered funny, all that well.
there are more but i need to jet outta here and go pick up my sweet boy from school. and, really, i'd rather boast about the positive changes we see than dwell on the little things that still need improvement.
all in all, we are thrilled to see evidence that therapy is working!