Lara's report is very thorough and notes that J "has definite sensory processing difficulties" and that "he also has difficulty with modulation (facilitation or inhibition of responses) of body position and movement, activity level and emotional responses. His behavioural and emotional/social responses also differ from other children his age. J's results indicate a mixed profile, however they suggest he is sensory seeking, emotionally reactive and has difficulties with attention and fine motor/perceptual skills".
To be honest I feel relieved - I've long known that J's behaviour was different to that of other children of his age and although I've suspected for some time that the reason was sensory integration disorder, (as proposed by Julia Nile the Foundation Years Advisor in Somerset) it was good to have these suspicions confirmed. On the other hand I also feel like crying – my little boy is struggling in school and is emotionally, behaviourally and socially immature when compared to other children his age. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that this cannot be good for his feelings of confidence, self esteem and self worth. He is different - not abnormal but just different; but I don't want him to be different - his life would be far easier if his behaviour and responses were like those of other children his age .... and my life would be easier too.
At the moment J likes everyone and to him everyone is a friend. He is happy to talk to adults and children regardless of where he is or what the situation. To be honest this is sometimes quite wearing; when he gets really over-excited he will literally tell anyone in the vicinity what he is about to do and try to include them in his excitement – more in the manner that a three year old who cannot contain his feelings might. But J is not three - he is approaching six and is also tall for his age – when he gets really over the top with excitement it is hard to contain him. Little wonder that the school have been raising concerns.
For me this raises many anxieties and questions:
- How will J cope as he gets older if these sensory processing difficulties persist?
- Will he always be behaviourally, emotionally and socially immature?
- How will J cope in school as he gets older if his responses remain immature?
- Is J more likely to fall victim to bullying?
- Are his sensory problems a sign of other difficulties (e.g Dyslexia).
- How will I and J's Dad cope as J gets older if the frustrated anger persists?
- Will the school be supportive?
- How do I explain J's immature behaviour to other parents in social situations?
- How do I help J to cope with his problems?
The last question I DO have some answers for as Lara has made some suggestions in her report and has been good enough to do some separate recommendations for the school.
- J would benefit from participating in a six week block of Sensory Integration Therapy run by a Paediatric Occupational Therapist with the aim of providing additional movement input and reducing auditory and tactile sensitivity. J's progress would then be reviewed.
- J would benefit from trialling a sensory cushion (e.g. Disc o Sit) or ball chair to provide him with additional movement input in the classroom. (I can tell anyone reading this that I will NOT choose the Ball chair as my clown of a son would use this as a reason to "fall" off on a regular basis)!
- Sensory Strategies should be used within the school environment to prevent negative behaviours and improve social skills. (Lara has made some recommendations for the school in helping J)
- J would benefit from further occupational therapy assessment to determine specific fine motor and visual perceptual difficulties that may be causing him to avoid handwriting tasks.
So my next task is to book Lara for the Sensory Integration Therapy and thank the higher powers that I am in a position to afford private treatment at the moment.
In my next post I will look at one of the senses J has difficulty with. This will help me understand his problems in greater detail.