One of the things J-Man’s therapists have noted is how good he has been at figuring out on his own some techniques that will help him deal with certain ‘sensory situations’. This is apparently a pretty advanced skill for someone in his situation.
Part of the problem is that he has a very hard time communicating what’s bothering him, and while we have the standard assortment of ‘sensory organizing’ things we do, it’s a lot of trial and error since we often can do nothing more than guess.
What’s particularly interesting is that it’s common for him to use some of the techniques he’s invented for a while, and then just drop them, I suppose when they no longer do much for him.
Here are some of the things he’s tried over time.
- Rubbing his head on the floor – either just laying there and doing it or by crawling and rubbing his head that way
- Pushing our wooden kitchen chairs everywhere
- Teeth grinding
- Chewing his shirt until it’s soaked through and then pretty much not stopping until we stop him
- Kicking his high chair rhythmically, which basically serves to vibrate the chair
- Pushing on doors
- Licking salt
- Spinning in circles
The consistent theme here is that he generally seeks strong input. More on why this works in a later issue.
And the stuff he’d seek out us to do with him.
- Lie flat on the floor to get “smushed” – essentially flat palms on his back and pushing down with the force roughly that of a strong hug
- Get one of us to take him outside and swing
- Get one of us to lift him over our heads repeatedly
- Ask (in his own way) for ‘horsie’ – basically getting me to bounce him around singing the theme song to “Bonanza”
- Get us to tickle him
When he was a baby, he either had to be nursed, swaddled, held, or driven around in a car to go to sleep. In hindsight, this isn’t any surprise since that heavy pressure around him is very soothing to him even now. At the time, it regularly sucked, made us mental from exhaustion, pinched a couple of back nerves, and did a fair amount of damage to the environment. That’s how it goes sometimes.
An intriguing path we’ll likely head down in the near future is looking at what role music and sound could play in his therapy. We do it informally now since he loves playing on his keyboard, listening to about any kind of music, having us sing to him, and so on. That gets us through a lot of therapy sessions. Singing coupled with all the nursing, swaddling, holding, and driving is what got us through those 16 months of not sleeping through the night.
There are more formal therapies around this that sound encouraging. More on that in a future issue.
More on sensory stuff in a future installment, too. Speaking of sleep, I need some.