Well, our social skills group last Saturday was not the smashing success I had hoped it would be. Me being there had zero impact on Jay’s ability to focus on the tasks. He sees that place as one big play ground and nothing more. He’s happy when he’s there. But he’s not benefiting from being there the way they intend him to.
In a lot of ways, Jay was not the most severely affected kid in the group, but he was the only one repeatedly running out of the therapy room to jump into a ball pit or go down a bumpy slide or zip-line across the gym.
When it was “walk around the circle and introduce yourself” time, Jay did OK for the first 2 people but quickly lost interest and then ran off to jump on a big cushion.
When it was “parachute” time, Jay refused to hold the handles. He stood beside me and darted under the chute when it was raised. He spent the entire parachute time under it laughing and having a grand time as it fell on him and then got raised up again.
When it was “pick up these small items with big tweezers and put them in the bin” time, Jay picked up a few items with the giant tweezers and then decided it was more productive to scoop a bunch of things up in his cupped hands and dump them in the bin that way. (He wasn’t wrong. It was faster)
Then he ran out of the room and went down the slide. Laughing the entire time.
When it was time to roll a plastic tube from one kid to the other, Jay rolled it once and then repeatedly dropped himself on his knees and rolled himself around the room.
When it was “look in the mirror and identify body parts and facial expressions” time, Jay climbed onto my lap and fingered my earrings.
The therapists tried giving him a big ball to sit on to help him regulate his system. He got up and threw it across the room and then chased after it and threw it again.
They tried putting a weighted vest on him. They tried giving him squeezes. They tried letting him take turns between doing one thing they asked him to do and getting one ride down the slide.
Bless their hearts, they tried.
Yesterday evening we tried a 3rd type of therapy. No more groups. Just me, Jay and a therapist. He had her undivided attention.
She did not make life easy for him and he didn’t like it one bit. It was still play therapy but she didn’t allow him to be as free as he likes. In between his complaints about being restricted and all his wiggling, she did get him to imitate her in some ways. Towards the end of the hour, he was quiet(er) and they were drawing and erasing pictures on a chalk board.
It was difficult but both the therapist and I think this is what he needs. For now.
This will be a harder therapy session for our family to manage. It’s more expensive. It doesn’t end until 7:30pm which means we won’t get home until almost 8pm, which is the kids bed time.
But we’ll make it work. We’re not big on spoiling or giving our kids everything they want but CC and I are determined to give our kids what they need.
Learning to self-regulate will be at the heart of Jay’s OT for the next several weeks.
For those of you not familiar with the lingo, the best way I can describe it is that it’s about balancing the body and mind so you can function without getting distracted. It’s about getting to a point where your body is relaxed and comfortable enough so you can do real work or pay attention to what you’re supposed to be doing.
In Jays case, he gets very worked up (mentally and physically) and needs a lot of stimulation before he can calm down.
There are tools/tricks that can help someone to self-regulate.