Allow me to set the scene-
It’s 5:15 p.m. on Easter Sunday and my husband and I are in the backyard playing with our kids. A neighbor stops over to exchange causal conversation and discuss whether our new neighbor’s fence is respecting the property lines.
Then, BAM! A yellow plastic bat comes flying at my face and hits me square in the nose. Blood starts streaming down my face, and I cry in pain and shock. At that point mostly shock.The hour that followed involved frozen peas, several washcloths, a concerned husband, two children sweetly playing school, and a 3 1/2 year old who kept whispering “I tried to say excuse me. I tried to say excuse me,” over and over again as he clung to my side.
The X-ray the following day confirmed my nose was broken, but that wasn’t actually my main concern.
Three weeks ago my son had his last Occupational Therapy appointment that the insurance would approve to treat his Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). If you haven’t read this post on my son Logan’s Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version (courtesy of this article).
Sensory processing disorder, a condition in which the brain has trouble organizing information that comes in from the senses…Children can be either overly sensitive or not sensitive enough to the stimuli around them. They may have frequent or long temper tantrums, difficulty being still or recognizing others’ personal space, and clumsiness or poor motor skills, among other symptoms.
Sounds exhausting, right?
Logan received occupational therapy services from Early Intervention until his third birthday. After a small, and informative break from therapy, he began private outpatient OT in August 2015. The goals of the therapy are to use sensory activities to raise the sensory threshold (i.e. how much input a child can take without melting down), work on body control/coordination, and work on self regulation. In addition to this, there is actually a physiological component to the OT activities. “Heavy Work”, meaning pushing, pulling holding weighted objects actually compresses the joints which helps with a child’s sensory development. The OT leads the child in Heavy Work and other sensory activities and follows that with Fine Motor activities (with a sensory component).
An example-Logan’s OT sessions might involve him completing an obstacle course in the center’s sensory gym. This would mean climbing while pulling a rope, pushing medicine balls through tunnels, diving for objects in a ball pit, navigating a balance beam and swinging on a sensory swing. He often completes this while wearing a weighted vest. These activities are directly followed by tracing letters with his pointer finger through a layer of shaving cream. Or making a mosaic with corn kernels.
Since starting OT in August, I’ve seen Logan make incredible gains. His body control has improved. His sensory threshold has heightened to a point that I can use the blender without him screaming. He has stopped biting his sister when he gets overwhelmed. He can put on his shoes without complaining about ‘strings’. He even survived the overstimulation of a bouncy house birthday party. With OT and a nice balance of heavy work and fine motor work at home, he was coming into his own.
Then one day, 3 weeks ago, his OT told me that our insurance plan was no longer willing to pay for his OT. We appealed twice, even expelling that my health concerns limit the amount of work I can do with Logan at home (“balance like this, sweetie…yeah right”). His OT explained that the insurance companies believe a few short months are enough to “cure” sensory issues. In reality kids who don’t get ongoing therapy struggle in school, lash out, exhibit anxiety, and often turn to other ways to satisfy their sensory seeking needs like drugs, and risk-taking behaviors.
When we had Logan screened by the public school after his third birthday, we learned that they don’t treat SPD.
The three weeks since we ended OT have felt like a lifetime. Logan has been struggling with textures, situations, and daily activities he was mastering. It all culminated with me getting hit in the face with a bat.
My son broke my nose. But it wasn’t his fault. And yes, I’m angry. But not at him.