Getting Serious About Sensory

This week we had our first two sessions of sensory occupational therapy. It's been a long time coming for a number of reasons, but I'm already feeling very hopeful about it.

I wrote about the results of OB's sensory assessment here and here. OB's ability to process sensory information is, frankly, all over the place, but he has particular difficulties with being under sensitive to proprioceptive information (where his body is in space), and over sensitive to auditory input and vestibular input (related to balance and movement). Poor core strength is also an issue, with knock-on effects in all kinds of unexpected areas.

The Occupational Therapist (who is a marvel!) had equipped us with a 'sensory diet' of activities which we have attempted to implement with mixed success to be honest. The main benefit of the assessment for me was to clarify which things OB could do, but didn't want to, and which he simply could not manage. Armed with that information, we've made some changes:

We stopped bothering with riding a bike

This was something I felt all kids should be able to do, and a happy memory from my childhood. Unfortunately, with OB, it quickly became the stuff of nightmares with every attempt resulting in tears and shouting, usually from both of us! He would constantly be crying, claiming he was falling even with stabilisers on perfectly flat surfaces, and interpreting every tiny dip in the pavement as a massive hill that was too scary to attempt. Now I understand that he's not just over-reacting or exaggerating - his brain really is telling him he is falling and he can't help it. So we've abandoned it. We can always come back to it in the future, or not.

We changed how we do bath time

This has been a nightmare since he was a baby, with hair washing resulting in meltdowns every single time. I started dreading the event, and my obvious tension did nothing to alleviate his stress at all. Now, we have tepid baths when we're in the mood and, if we're washing hair, I let him do the whole thing himself. This means that only a patch of hair on top of his head usually gets any soap on it, but it's way better than what we endured before. The shower is permanently on the rack - the sensation of spraying water is intolerable for OB - and our bath times have almost become something to look forward to.

We lengthened our bedtime routine

One of the few suggestions on the sensory diet that I can get OB to comply with easily is the deep pressure massage. I do it one-handed while I read his story at night and it's proved to be a lovely bonding, calming time.

We've got a new approach to toys

OB already had a trampoline and a drum kit, both of which I bought partly because I thought he'd enjoy them, and partly because I sensed they'd be good for him! We've recently acquired a peanut ball which we've all had enormous fun with together. Just sitting on it is great for his balance and core strength, and we've rolled around on the floor with it together so much I've had to buy a rug to save our elbows and knees.

The sessions themselves are turning out to be two fun hours in our week. The OT is fantastic with OB and really brings him out of himself. He gets a little giddy with all the activity, but she ends each session with a few minutes of 'resting time', rocking him while he lies on the swing with a weighted blanket over him. I might be imagining it but I think he has seemed calmer for the rest of the day, and he has definitely been out like a light at bedtime.

It's a shame we only get ten sessions, and I do wonder how much progress can be made in that time, but it's a start, and I think it's been a good start.


  1. This sounds so positive. Love the sound of the changes to bed and bathtime! Well done x


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