Tag Archives: Ot

Question?: Autism Signs In 3 Year Olds

Donald asks…

Anyone out there have a child with autism?

I am so worried that my 3 year old son has some kind of form of autism. His dr. wants him to be evaluated. Could someone out there tell me what life is like having a child with autism, and how did you first know something was out of the norm with them?

admin answers:

My nephew is autistic, and i believe he was dignosed about the age of 3. He is an extreme case. He is now 5. He still talks very little, and he has a lot of difficulty with change. For example, he has pinkeye right now, and it has been a madhouse here just trying to get eyedrops in his eyes.

He is very bright, however. He is very stubborn, and cries for hours on end if he doesn’t get his way. He is not antisocial, but has a lot of trouble sharing things like toys. He sometimes daydreams so deeply that even loud noises don’t shake him from them. He seems to function rather well most of the time. Just doesn’t deal well with things he’s not used to. He picks up on some things faster than most kids. Like the fact that he no longer calls his mother mommy. He calls her by her first name, because that is what we all call her.

He sees a speech therapist and and an occupational therapist, and it was his OT that originally pointed out signs. He said the first clue was that when he looked at something new, he held it close to his face and wiggled his fingers on it. Sometimes he just waves his fingers in front of his face like he’s holding something we can’t see. Another sign (or so his mother tells me) is that he seems to “talk” in his own language. Seems like babble to me, but he also seems to have his own certain words or noises from certain things.

May not be a lot of help in your own situation, but this is what I have observed.

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Question?: Autistic Behavior

Helen asks…

What do you do with a student who displays autistic behavior and the parents don’t want any testing done?

The child is constantly interrupting with verbal outbursts or banging on floor or table. I just need to make it to the end of the school year with my sanity. I can put the student on a computer and they will be quiet, but they also need to do classwork – which they will not complete unless someone is hovering over them. Student is very capable of doing work and is intelligent – The social worker and principal are aware of the situation but our hands are tied.

admin answers:

Instead of trying to get him classified which would take weeks since the team would have to gather assessments and the team is busy with the IEP’s can you start a 504 for support or a behavior plan without the parents consent? I am a parent of an autistic spectrum child in a mainstream class. For classwork he has a corral around his desk so he is less distracted, he wears earmuffs so he doesn’t respond to every classroom noise, his desk is in the least stimulated part of the room, he gets reinforcers every 8 minutes for a pointcard which after four reinforcers he cashes in for a preferred activity, he has a breakcard for when he is overwhelmed, he has a schedule on his locker and desk, he is warned ahead of time if the schedule changes for a firedrill, or assembly. He has a timer, a peer mentor, the OT takes him to do some movement for sensory integration, a special ed. Teacher comes into the classroom for support, he sits on a core disc. Can the parents come into observe or be willing to strategize on how to help their son be less impulsive and disruptive and improve his attention? Can the parents volunteer in the class? To help my son complete work it is pre-taught the night before at home. Directions are given as simplistic as possibe, an example is given, and he has to repeat the directions back. Letting him fail as a wake up call to the parents as suggested by SPED teacher is not an option. When you have that kind of burned out mentality you aren’t doing your job well anymore and its time to move on. That attitude really sucks and its sad to see that apparently SPED teacher is actively teaching. Thank god my child doesn’t have her! Another thing that helps is knocking out the harder classwork in the am. I am glad you are trying to look for suggestions to help him be successful. That is the sign of a good teacher.

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Question?: Autistic Spectrum

Joseph asks…

What is more effective for children with autism: Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy?

I want to go into a career where I can work with children on the autistic spectrum. Which type of therapist would an autistic patient see more often and be most benefited by?
To Jose L: I don’t mean the type of Physician to see an Autistic patient. Just the most beneficial therapy.

admin answers:

The vast majority of kids with autism do not need or qualify for Physical Therapy services. In my experience, the majority of kids with autism do qualify for Occupational Therapy services. So if your goal is to work with a lot of children on the autism spectrum, OT is a much better bet than PT.

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Teenagers and Sensory Processing Disorder: The Special Challenges

Teens with sensory processing disorder have special challenges because of the stage of development they’re in and the fact that until now, their sensory issues may have gone unaddressed.

1. Finding the right OT can be difficult. Few occupational therapists are trained or experienced in working with teenagers who have sensory processing disorder. Play-based SI therapy may seem silly and embarrassing to teens.

2. Poor self-esteem. Teenagers who have had sensory issues for years will have learned at least some accommodations to get around them and are less likely to experience the extreme behaviors and responses they did when they were younger. However, years of feeling different and not knowing why, and noticing that they have never been quite as mature and self-controlled as their peers, take their toll. Teens with sensory processing issues usually struggle with self-esteem. They need a lot of encouragement to admit they have sensory issues and need some help.

3. Need for independence. Teenagers need to have their independence respected, so being told, “You need to do X, Y, and Z to manage your sensory issues” usually doesn’t go over very well!

4. Desire to fit in. Even teenagers who don’t feel the need to have a lot of friends or be conformist want to have some friends they feel they fit in with. Sensory challenges can embarrass them and may make them feel isolated, and different in a negative way.

5. Changing hormones. Teenagers have ever-changing hormones that can exacerbate sensory issues by making them more sensitive to input than they were in the past. The normal changes of adolescence can also make them more moody and emotionally sensitive.

6. New expectations. People are less likely to see your teen as a young, immature person with a hidden disability and more likely to see him or her as a young adult whose behavior is willful.

What’s a parent, teacher, or therapist to do?

1. Modify traditional SI therapy techniques to be more teen friendly. As a substitute for playing with a tray of shaving cream or finger-paints, encourage the teen to cook, garden, do art or arts and crafts, and engage in other activities that challenge his tactile issues. Work with a sensory-smart occupational therapist who is willing to alter her approach to helping your teenage son or daughter to reduce any embarrassment or defensiveness.

2. Talk about sensory issues positively. Reassure your teenager that sensory issues are simply a difference in brain wiring that can have advantages but that can also be controlled and addressed to make life a little easier. Explain what SPD is and why in some cases, it’s good to be extra sensitive or to crave certain sensations, and that people with sensory issues often have other gifts as well, such as the ability to “think in pictures.” Then explain that there are “tricks” you and/or an OT can teach them to “make their lives easier.” Everyone wants his life to be a little easier! Acknowledge how hard your teen has to work to be organized or tolerate certain sensations and praise her for her efforts.

3. Offer accommodations and sensory diet ideas for him or her to choose from. Present accommodations and activities to teenagers and let them decide which they would like to use. Honor and respect their choices and encourage them to engage in collaborative problem solving with you. If they don’t want to be seen doing a brushing protocol for tactile issues, can they do it discreetly in the bathroom at school? If all the kids are wearing loose clothes and they prefer them tight, can the teen wear tight clothing, such as bicycle shorts, underneath looser clothes that seem more stylish?

4.Help your teen with sensory issues to feel okay as he is and find a group of peers he’s comfortable with. Practical solutions for grooming, picky eating, and dressing, and encouraging talks about the upside of being different, can help your teen with sensory issues feel more comfortable among his peers. However, he may also feel better about himself if he expands his group of friends. Encourage your teen to develop hobbies and engage in new activities from individualized sports that don’t require high levels of skill and competitiveness to enjoy them to groups that engage in the arts, community service, spiritual growth, etc. Extracurricular activities can help kids find their “tribe” and feel the power to make a difference in the world as well.

5. Accept that your child may be more emotionally sensitive at this stage. Be alert to signs of increased anxiety and depression and consult a medical health professional with any concerns you have. Remember, addressing sensory issues will reduce overall anxiety that can lead to mild or moderate depression (when you feel you can’t manage your discomfort, over time, you can develop depression). Don’t forget some of the most effective treatments for mild or moderate anxiety and depression include physical exercise, time spent outdoors, meditation, and breathing exercises. Mindfulness practices from yoga and tai chi to tai kwan do and karate can help, too.

6. Focus on self-awareness and accountability for self-regulating. It’s very difficult to get others to accept poor self-regulation in a teen, even if you educate them on hidden disabilities. Therefore, the sooner you collaborate with your teen in creating a workable sensory diet that prevents negative behaviors, the better. It will be easier for your teen to develop better self-regulation if she is trained in using specific self-calming and self-alerting techniques that she knows work for her. Hold her accountable for using her alerting music and gum, taking time out to sit in a quiet space and do breathing exercises or use a brushing protocol, etc. Have her participate in creating a sensory diet tailored to her needs to keep her sensory needs met and to prevent fight-or-flight behaviors. Let her experience the natural consequences if she refuses to use her calming, focusing, alerting techniques.

Above all, never forget that kids with sensory issues need a “just right” challenge, a balance of accommodations to make them more comfortable and challenges that take them out of their comfort zone. Sensory diet activities for teenagers help them to develop a higher tolerance for situations and activities they’ll encounter in life, and over time, retrain their brains to process sensory information more typically. Be creative and encouraging in setting up a sensory diet for a teenager, and always be collaborative to respect the teen’s need for independence.

Finally, if you’re a parent frustrated by trying to get your teenager’s sensory issues under control, consider joining an in-person or online support group or creating one. Knowing that you aren’t alone, and having practical and emotional support from other parents going through the same experiences with their teen, can help you enormously at this stage of your child’s development.

Nancy Peske is the coauthor of the book Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues. Learn more about sensory issues at http://www.sensorysmartparent.com/ and visit Raising a Sensory Smart Child on Facebook.

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Children With Autism – Proper Tips For Helping Kids With Autism

Before my son was diagnosed with autism we knew he had developmental issues, we began different therapy’s very early in his life.

The first was physical therapy (PT) the doctors told us when he was born that he might not walk, so physical therapy was recommended to us to help with this issue. The therapist worked with him to stand holding on to things and then eventually we were watching him take his first steps. I was surprised at how much determination was shown by the therapist and my son, it seemed that the right combination of attitudes had him walking in no time. This was late he was about two and a half by the time we got him steady enough to not hold on and comfortable with taking a few steps on his own.

The next therapy that was helpful for us was occupational therapy, (OT) which seemed very similar to PT to me as a mother because I had never experienced therapy before. The OT would work with him on other areas like his oral fixation with both edible and un edible items. I later found out this is called pica,”a tendency or craving to eat substances other than normal food (such as clay, plaster, or ashes), occurring during childhood or pregnancy, or as a symptom of disease.” This definition came from the dictionary. The therapist gave me many suggestions on tools like chewy tubes for him. When he put something like a pencil in his mouth I would replace it with his chewy tube, that way he was getting the input that he needed with a safe item in his mouth. As the years past we had a lot of issues with PICA he would get into our cupboards and find cleaning agents, or in the car he would find the oil for the car, it became very important for us to keep a close eye on his every move to keep him from getting hurt or ill from his actions. For a young child who was not supposed be able to open containers he became very good at taking covers off just about any package he got his hand on.

As he got older we ended up taking him to many different doctors one of which was able to give him the diagnosis of autism. We had been going to therapist before this but when this diagnosis was added speech therapy (ST) was stressed as very important because he is a very non verbal child. ST was a great help for us early in his life because he was not able to let us know his needs, there was a therapist that taught him some sign language, he caught on to it right away. He could tell us he wanted to eat or, when was thirsty, he even learned to tell us when he needed to got potty. As time went on his language developed more and with much work we were able to get him to verbalize his needs which eliminated the use of signs. I still use signs to get him to say what ne wants today. He still understands them and it keeps his speech more on topic and less echolalia.

Echolalia is when he just repeats what we tell him or what was said by some one else. Most of his speech is in this manner or just random things like ” want pizza” right after we just ate dinner. With all this going on for all these years he keeps our life interesting. Everyday brings opportunity for advancement, he is now 12 years old, despite the grimm out look we got from doctors at the time of his birth he can walk, talk, and say I LOVE YOU which they said he would never do. Thanks to therapy, mile stones were reached, and when this happens as a mother I always feel, “better late than never”. The one last thing that I feel is very important is doing the “homework” the therapist give. In my case they would tell me to work on certain stretches, or certain words with him when at home between therapy sessions. When we returned the next week they could tell we had been working on things at home. As a mother I was doing a good job. I hope this information is helpful for other parents out there who, like me, in the beginning are looking for helpful hints on helping our children who experience autism or special needs.

Check out the web site I created it has many items parents can use to do therapy for autism in your home. These items have been hand picked by me personally as things that I wished I had in the past, or need now for my son. The web site is http://www.autisticintentions.com/ it is a small selection as of now. I will be adding more inventory as I find items that I personally feel will benefit family’s like mine who are living with autism and special needs.

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