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Here is a layout I did a little about Cait's therapy. It's about how even though we didn't know Caitlyn had this type of sensory difficulty, we were already doing a lot of play type things that qualify as the 'heavy work' she needs to keep herself regulated. I was really amazed at some of the findings from the occupational therapist, there was a lot of new information to take in and it was both fascinating to me and a little frightening to think of what Caitie is having to deal with. This is of her last year playing at the playground. Read on for more details on Cait's SPD if you're interested.

I thought we were going in just to figure out what to do with Cait's Auditory Processing difficulties, but the therapist did a bunch of different tests and found out that Caitie also has proprioceptive dysfunction. Proprioceptive sense refers to the sensory input and feedback that tells us about movement and body position. It's receptors are located within our muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues. It is one of the "deep senses" and could be considered the "position sense". Sensory Processing Disorders commonly go along side with Autism Spectrum Disorders so at this point it doesn't change her diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder, it is just another facet to it.

During the testing, the therapist pointed out to me the signs of how Caitlyn couldn't tell where he body was in space relative to the equipment she was working on. He had me also watch Audrey to see the difference which was slight enough in Caitlyn that I wouldn't be able to just tell on my own that there was any problem, but a little more obvious when I knew what I was looking for and able to compare with Audrey who is at the normal level for her age. The good thing though is that Caitlyn adapts and learns well. Once her body puts in memory where her feet, hands, head, and body should be in a certain place - say on a rock wall or on the playground - she adapts quickly and can better 'sense' where she needs to be and do the motor planning needed to accomplish an activity.

She also is sensory craving, her proprioceptive sense needs more input than normal to help it regulate. As I understood it, below our brain is the brain stem and that is were our proprioceptive and vestibular (balance, movement speed, relation to gravity) functions are run. Above that in the brain is where we analyze and organize our senses. All the input from our senses goes through the brainstem then up through to the brain. Our brainstem acts as a buffer, filtering out unneeded sense information. If we were to take in all our senses at full we would be in overload all the time. Think about when you are stressed and noises seem louder, lights are brighter - that's a type of sensory overload. Caitlyn's proprioceptive sense needs more activity to help it regulate the other senses, I view it as that her filter is too thin and she goes into overload quickly, more often, and perhaps more dynamically because of this. She needs that 'heavy work' to help thicken her filter so that her body can regulate her senses on a more normal level.

What does playing on the playground have to do with this? Well that along with many other regular play activities are actually types of heavy work. I found out that even having Cait carry some of the groceries inside are heavy work and the really neat thing is that there are plenty of activities that we already do every day that fit into that therapy as well. The biggest challenge is school, where they can't just let Cait run off to the playground or push around a laundry basket of clothes when she starts getting close to being in sensory overload. It's a challenge that we are more equipped to address now that we know she has sensory difficulties and one that the school seems very apt to help with. While that doesn't make 'heavy work' light work for us or the teachers, it certainly helps ease the heavy weight of not knowing what's going on with her off our shoulders.


Alanna said...

What a cute layout and such a fitting title. I enjoyed reading the information you provided on Cait's condition. I'm glad that you all know what's going on and what some things are that can be done to help manage this.

You and your strength continue to amaze me Marjorie. I hope you have a great week.

Laurel said...

Love the layout. I read the info too, like Alanna said, your strength amazes me! I found the information very helpful as a teacher of a special needs child that needs more 'work' as you said, not for the same reasons but it helped me see kind of where he is.

Seleise said...

the layout is great and thanks for sharing more of the type of challenges she is facing. She's a beautiful little girl and it's great she has you as a mom!

Jena said...

What a neat layout - it was interesting to read about her condition - how great is it that you can do so much to help her! I praise your strength and wish you all the best!

Sparkle said...

What a lovely layout. I'm glad you were able to get all that information. You all are so strong and Cait's blessed to be with such a supportive family.

Marcia P @ The Stamp Spot said...

A gorgeous layout and a great memory for you to have. What a blessing she is .

It sounds like you are getting to the roots of things, all which will continue the great work you have already done with Cait. I admire your strength and the love you show to both your girls and your husband. Many could learn much from you.

Take care hun
:) Marcia P

scrap your heart out with Jen said...

I too have a son on the spectrum. He was initally diagnosed with PDD at age 2, but now at age 13, he more likely has Aspergers. He is the joy of our family. He is the 3rd of 7 children. I praise you for working so hard with your daughter. It is not easy, but the return is well worth it. She will continue to amaze you with her progress. Much success!