This comes after hearing from a parent that her son's school would not administer OT to her child because "SI doesn't impact education". Although I know this is common in public and private education, I was moved to respond.
In preparation, I was reminded that many parents at our local Autism Society of America meetings don't know what OT or SI are. Their children are not receiving OT at school or privately. I decided to share this with you all, for those who are unfamiliar with OT and SI. In this post, I am focusing on SI, but remember, Occupational Therapy is also used for fine and gross motor delays which many of our special needs children have.
I can't imagine a case of untreated SI that doesn't interfere with a child's education. If the child is distracted and annoyed by sounds, sights, movement (or lack of), touch, smells and tastes (among other sensations) how could these irritants not interfere with his/her education???? Is this possible?
Try this: Turn on the radio, but don't tune it. Leave it on static and fuzz. Turn it up. Ask someone to turn the lights on and off, at will. Strap yourself into a broken chair that is missing a leg and use a table that is off balance - you know the ones in restaurants that makes us all so mad. Now, put on some scratchy lace in place of a comfy T-shirt, put your pants on backwards and wear shoes one size too small. Pour a bowl of grated parmesan cheese, open a can of sardines and bring the cat box to the table. Now, snack on your least favorite food; the one you NEVER eat because it comes with a gag reflex. With all this in place, pick up a new book and learn something new! How can anyone claim that SI problems don't interfere with education??
On a more personal note, my son was originally seen by an insightful and compassionate rehab clinic that offers st, ot, pt, music therapy and more. After their initial observation of my son, I was told that he "may" have PDD, was exhibiting autistic tendencies and needed st and ot. I was advised to give therapy a six month trial before seeking further medical opinions and that his progress or lack there of would be a good indicator of his true condition.
At that time, my three year old son and I attended private ot and st for two years while my son also attended special ed preK with speech and ot pull outs. My son continued to progress, though slow at first, then in spurts, then leaps and bounds. His prognosis has gone from "probably PDD, might never marry or have children, may never become totally independent, may never communicate normally" to a 6 year old child that is regarded as completely typical by his peers, parents, teachers, and other professionals. I attribute most of his success to his ot programs, the brushing technique/joint compressions and sensory diet.
Since the day I first heard the term PDD, I began a search for more information. When I didn't think my son met all the criteria for PDD, I continued my search. Finally, I read the book "The Out of Sync Child: Sensory Integration Dysfunction" and found were my son "fit". Like autism spectrum disorders, the effects of SID are wide ranging from the mild to the severe. And like most children with an autism spectrum disorder, my son had the signs and symptoms of SID. I consider SID a related disorder and I continue to participate with advocacy and support groups like my local ASA chapter and the many online listservers that specifically serve parents like me.
If your child has symptoms of sensory integration dysfunction, make an appointment with an occupational therapist who has SI experience. It might make a world of difference....it might change the life of your child and the dynamics of your family.
Finally, don't wait for the information to be delivered. You know your child better than all others. Educate yourself about your child. Learn everything you can about your child's unique challenges and gifts. Then promote those areas and share your perspective with all those who wish to help you to help your child.
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