Thursday, July 17, 2008

Therapy Stuff

Last Thursday we started Evie in a sensory therapy playgroup. It is every Thursday, and it is a group with 4 kids who have Sensory Processing Disorder. Two of them are sensory seekers, meaning they crave activity. Seekers tend to touch everything, spin in circles for minutes at a time without getting dizzy, crave deep pressure hugs, have no fear, feel very little pain, have a very hard time sitting still, and get very wired when there is any activity around. They are the movers and the shakers of the group. That is Evie. She is a seeker. The other two kids in the group are sensory defensive, meaning that they would rather sit on the floor and not speak to anyone, and not play. They can't stand loud noises. They get very upset with lots of activity and shut down or melt down. The goal of the group is to teach the kids how to play together. Sensory kids usually have poor social skills. For the seeker, they tend to scare some kids away because they play too rough (they don't realize their own strength). The sensory defensive kids have a hard time socially because they don't want to play or talk with the other kids. The parents are in a different room during the meeting, away from the kids. There are 2 occupational therapists working with the kids. When we went last week, I almost cried. As I sat in the room with the parents, we all were talking about our kids. To be able to hear such similar stories, and be able to talk to these parents without feeling judged was the most amazing feeling for me. I have found that many people refuse to understand sensory issues. They think it is bogus, and tell us we are bad parents, and that we aren't disciplining enough. Evie is not a defiant child. She is just very very active because her sensory nervous system is pretty much screaming at her every day. Last week was so refreshing for me. I can't even describe it. I felt validated. I felt like I was not the worlds worst mom, which is how I have been made to feel many times by other moms. I did a lot of thinking after going to the group. I realized that I need to avoid situations where I know I (and Evie) will be judged unfairly. That means not getting together with people who refuse to understand, and make their opinions known. I'm telling you, it does a real number to your self esteem after awhile when people say such horrible things. I have never ever told a mom before that she was a bad mom, and not doing her job. I wouldn't even dream of being that cruel. Being a mom is a tough job as it is. We all need support, not judgement. Being a mom of a special needs kids is tough. Most people don't have any clue as to how hard it is, or how their negative words can affect both the kids and the moms. All the moms in the group commented that people had said some really horrible things to them about their kids, and about their parenting. So I am not alone.

One awesome thing is that God keeps bringing amazing people into my life to help me. I have made a wonderful friend named Kate in my neighborhood, who just happens to be an occupational therapist. She has worked a lot with sensory kids, and her daughter Ella, who plays with Evie, is a sensory defensive kid. I can be myself around Kate, and know that she will not judge me. She loves Evie, and sees her as the wonderful little girl that she is. I am so thankful to God for bringing her into my life. Jeff and I have been getting together often with the couple who has the 5 girls (3 of them are triplets). They are super laid back, and are very familiar with sensory issues. Many multiples have sensory issues, so they had to have their girls tested for that. I don't have to worry at all about them judging me or Evie when we get together, which is wonderful. God has also led me to get Evie into some other therapies. I had been curious about Theraputic Riding for awhile. It is horseback riding for kids with special needs. For sensory seekers, it is very calming. After researching it, our occupational therapist mentioned it to us (before I had even said a word!) and said it would be extremely beneficial. Then at the playgroup we found out that 2 of the kids were in Theraputic Riding! The moms highly recommended it. I called the riding facility today, and we are going to start it in the fall! I am really excited. I know that Evie will love it. It is once a week, and it lasts for about an hour. It is cool to see how the Lord is leading us in different ways. It has been great to see how He just keeps opening doors.


Jules said...

Jen I'm sorry you've had to deal with such rude and hurtful comments. As you said, parenting is not easy and none of us have all the answers. I might think others aren't doing a good job raising their kids, but that's their business not mine and I don't really know what goes on behind closed doors!

You could have been describing my eldest son when you were describing Evie. He was the child that used to stand on his head to learn his spelling words. He never sat still. And doesn't to this day. He always has to have something in his hand to play with. Come to think of it, my youngest son is similar. My eldest son suffered loss of oxygen at birth and we've always wondered if that had something to do with his (mild) learning disabilities. I couldn't help but wonder if Evie was premature as all the characteristics that you've just described often show up at around 3 years of age in children who were born prematurely. Glad you're getting the help and support you need.

Jen said...

Hi Jules. She actually was almost two weeks overdue, so she definitely wasn't a preemie! One little girl in Evie's therapy group was a preemie. Evie wasn't big at birth, even though she was so late. She weighed only 7 pounds 1 ounce. She probably would have been pretty tiny if she would have been born on time. Thank you for sharing about your boys. It helps to have people who understand!

SchnauzerMom said...

It's a shame that people judge each other without really knowing the facts. It's easy to tell other people how to raise their kids, no so easy to do it yourself. I'm glad you are finding ways to help her.

Kelly said...

It is interesting when you hear story after story about judgemental parents. Once at a store this mom gave my daughter a nasty look for singing out loud and all the while her son was taking things off a store shelf.
I could have easily said something to her but I didn't.
Parenting isn't easy and it would be nice if most of the time you could count on other parents to "have your back" so to speak. I found it occasionally but not often enough.
Wow, how did you learn that Evie has this sensory issue?
I just also think that every parent needs to really tune into the needs of their child, every child has issues with something and strengths, all parents need to be as concerned and involved as you in making sure their child is with the people they need to be with to grow into a successful adult. Good for you!!!!

Jen said...

Hi Kelly. Evie was actually diagnosed by a doctor early on with ADHD, but that just didn't seem to fit. There were too many symptoms that didn't match that diagnosis. We had 2 separate occupational therapists tell us about sensory processing disorder. One OT let us borrow a video about it, and it pretty much described Evie. So that is how we found out the diagnosis. Anyways, thank you for your encouraging words!