SPD...OT...IEP...ABC-123: Entering the Acronym Jungle!

It has been almost 2 months since our son Ike was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). He began Occupational Therapy (OT) about 6 weeks ago, and I've been reading, researching, talking with other SPD moms through online support groups and to a friend at work who also has a "Sensational Kid" - just trying to learn as much as I can so that I can help Ike in every way possible. I am learning my way through "Acronym Jungle" as well....

We've been making our home sensory friendly so that Ike can get the sensory input he needs. We've purchased a weighted lap blanket, large yoga ball, porcupine balls, hand-fidget balls/toys, chewy necklace for his oral-motor issues, a mini-trampoline, sit/hop ball and exercise bands for the heavy work he craves.

He has been attending a Little Ninjas - Tae Kwon Do program that teaches balance, coordination, focus, memory, self-control, discipline, teamwork. He recently graduated up to a yellow belt. It's been a challenge for him to focus and follow directions but they feel he's making progress!

Our biggest issue so far is dealing with our daycare and Ike's behaviors/reactions there due to his SPD. He often copes with a fight or flight reaction - he'll either throw things or do slobbery/spitty raspberries or just dash out of the classroom and into the hallway. This is not good. When he gets to a point of sensory overload or anxious because his sensory-seeking behaviors prevent him from being able to self-regulate and control his impulses. He sometimes reacts in ways that are silly and socially inappropriate. Some of it is because he's 3 years old but mostly due to SPD - not something he can control. He's not a bad kid - he just needs to learn coping and self-regulation strategies....thus the need for O.T.

It doesn't help that the main teacher for this class has a bit of an attitude and can be very negative. She claims she adores him and wants nothing but to help him, but then balks at any ideas, tools or strategies we have for trying to get him to calm down or self-regulate in class. She often rolls her eyes when talking to me and is just plain rude. It's exasperating and recently I kinda let her have it - told her I really didn't appreciate the negative snotty attitude and that I felt it caused Ike to be stressed out. She's always very negative in front of him. The director, however, is so nice, she is trying to work with us to do whatever they can to help, and to work with Ike and the teachers to help Ike control himself and to keep him enrolled there, so I can keep my job. They have to operate at full capacity however, so they have limited resources to be able to give Ike special attention or go the extra mile to use some of his special 'accoutrements'. 

His therapist has said she's starting to think that the best thing for him at 3.5 years old, may be to go to preschool, to be in a more structured environment. A special needs preschool program. Maybe go to preschool for a few hours and to daycare a few hours each day. Maybe a different daycare? Maybe preschool only? We are not sure yet....something we need to figure out.

So, I took him for an evaluation at the school in our district this past week, so they could identify his areas of developmental need and for what programs he may qualify. The speech pathologist that screened Ike was surprised and impressed that he actually scored high on many of their evaluations - she felt he was advanced in several areas.

We have an appointment to return to the school next week to review their evaluation and the services they can offer/feel that Ike needs and their recommendation on what to do next. We will find out if/how he can get an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and begin to formulate a plan on where to go from here.

At first it was a bit difficult to let it sink in that my son is a special-needs child and will deal with SPD his whole life. This is not something that goes away, that he will grow out of or can be healed. (Sorry grandparents - this is not Ike "just being a boy" and something he'll outgrow or that his teachers and parents just being too picky) There may be other issues that surface as we go forward with occupational therapy. His OT casually suggested that there is a small possibility he may have ADD or ADHD issues - but that this can not be properly/legitimately evaluated and diagnosed until a child is at least 4 or 5.

It's been a bit overwhelming dealing with all of this and thinking of the years ahead - the issues we may face, how we will have to advocate for him, try to protect him, guide him and help him, support him with positive reinforcement and encouragement. We love this precious boy with all our hearts and want the very best in life for him. I hope I can rise to these challenges and be the best mom I can be for him...my sensational, beautiful son.

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