Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ryker's Second OT Appointment

(Warning--lots of writing and info, not many pictures. Sorry--I find this all fascinating. I'm a complete nerd.)

Ryker had his second occupational therapy appointment today. The OT said that he saw a LOT of improvement since the last time! We've been working hard the last two weeks to make sure to give him appropriate opportunities to bang, stomp, crash, hit and all that stuff. We've also seen a lot of improvement at home with him. He's a lot less inclined to be naughty because, rather than trying to take away all his crashing, hitting, banging opportunities and utensils, we've been telling him "Go hammer this into that tree stump" or "Go outside and run to the end of the block and back twice" or "You can jump on this but not that" and it's really been helping! Usually, by us trying to shut down those behaviors, we just see him look for another way to do it, which seems naughty and is unbelievably frustrating, but now we understand that he just NEEDS some sort of input and he has to do whatever it takes to get it. By us trying to make him stop it, we were exacerbating the problem, making him MORE destructive and MORE rowdy. So over the course of two weeks, the changes we've made have helped him to get those needs met so that he's capable of calming down when it's time to.
Today at OT, after running back and forth across a big field a ton of times, kicking a ball around, doing a wheelbarrow race, doing a jumping routine (I'll explain this one later--it's the most interesting exercise to me and Ryker's improvement on it was remarkable), swinging and banging into things in a stretchy, bouncy, cloth hammock thingy, and all out wrestling with the OT, Ryker and his OT did some yoga postures and then practiced sitting still and calming down. He did SO much better at calming down today than last time! The interesting thing to me is to see Ryker run and run until he's just about to drop and then see him get all wired up again as soon as a new activity is presented. A couple of times, he'd get so worn out from one activity that he would be on the verge of tears (with kicking the ball today, he was ready to be done and the OT kicked it to him one last time as he walked away and it hit him in the leg. He cried and cried! He acted hurt, but I know it couldn't have hurt him THAT bad. He was just so tired! But after walking back in the building and talking for just a few minutes, he was ready for jumping and swinging and wrestling! Still looking for MORE input!). But once a new activity came around, he was totally re-energized and gave it all he had, leaping and jumping and running. The OT asked him if he ever ran out of batteries. NOPE! But it looks like it is hard for him to have someone telling him to KEEP doing vigorous activities when he's done. Usually he's told to knock it off, but to keep going is throwing him for a loop. At the end of the appointment, he says it was so fun, but during it, he comes close to crying several times and he doesn't like being told to do more when he feels done. But I think that's kind of the point. He needs to be pushed to that breaking point to be able to learn to stay in a normal zone of functioning. One interesting thing I learned today is that it's having the opportunities to do the hitting and banging stuff that will make him stop those activities, but not because he won't have a need for them anymore--he won't LIKE them anymore. The OT told me how, as a kid, he could go on the tea cups at Disneyland and spin super fast and make everyone else sick and love every minute of it, but years later when he went, he didn't even feel it until about a half hour later when he got the worst migraine of his life. So he'd had enough spinning exposure over the years that his body couldn't handle spinning anymore.
The jumping routine: There are 5 long, narrow boxes made out of masking tape on the floor of the room. The OT lays out one # (1-5) in each box and has Ryker jump to whatever number he calls out. The first time Ryker did it, he was SO spastic! Trying to listen to the number, read the number, and then jump to it was total sensory overload for him! He stumbled and fumbled and fell over and over. Today was a totally different story. He still didn't look coordinated much, but he made it to the right numbers most of the time, he didn't fall once, and even when the OT tried to trick him, it didn't work. This activity is so interesting to me because of how much sensory stuff it shows! It really shows just how difficult it is for Ryker to process all those different inputs at once and to try to respond to them. And it shows more than anything else how much better he got in 2 weeks. Yay, Ryker!

Oh, and one more thing. He was SO ready for a nap when we got home today. I mean, really, really beat! He probably ran at least a quarter mile (remember, he's 4), walked on his hands until he just plain couldn't anymore, played kickball (which included LOTS of running too), wrestled, jumped, and swung all in an hour. But do you think he slept when we got home? NOPE! A crazy rain/hail/windstorm kept him up and now he won't sleep. Early bedtime tonight! Sheesh!


Karly said...

I'm so glad you put this up here. This is so interesting to me. Kara was actually telling me about this, and I love learning about it. I am so glad you have some good answers and are already starting to see some improvement. I'm sure you and Ryker are much happier these days! Yay!