Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Parent's Journey: Part II

Part one of this journey was posted in August of last year and was What We Do For Our Daughter and the Evaluation Process. I realize I haven't been very timely in updating this journey, such is the life of a teacher/mother/Fibromyalgia fighter.

Anyway, we have completed the Evaluation and have entered the phase of "Addressing the Needs of our Child". This is a phase that will be never-ending and I imagine cyclical at times as she grows out and back into certain needs, etc... The cliff-notes of the past few months are:

The Insurance Company
We received the form letter in response to my letter that explained where to find the codes that explained how these decisions are made, etc... Basically, what I expected.

The Evaluation
We did not have our daughter evaluated through the school because she was not really showing much evidence of her struggles at school enough yet and I wanted a comprehensive eval not one that had to focus on what they would be able to support her with at school. We went through a center that is newly formed in our area and one I highly recommend to anyone in the West Michigan area. They're website is

Knowing the evaluators (by reputation and reports) and having a high professional opinion of them helped alleviate some of my own anxiety, but not all. I don't know that that's entirely possible when you are turning over your child, even for a short time to someone else. Once they put on paper their conclusions, it became permanent. That is a scary thought. I had to remember that I had faith in these people and enough of my own professional expertise to ensure that the report would be an accurate description of my daughter.

As I said, the people at BRAINS are wonderful and we received a comprehensive evaluation and my daughter was comfortable throughout the evaluation! In fact, she was playing around with the evaluator and I felt good leaving because I knew that he would see her for the precocious, loving little wonder she was and that she had been playing - not saying no and being defiant. . . but I digress.....

The short version of the eval was: Auditory Processing Disorder, Sensory Integration Disorder and Generalized Anxiety. No ADD (which is what I thought but feared would be the stop-point) and no dyslexia (at this time).

Again, I feel blessed that I have been called always to work in the field I work in and to be good at what I do. I have a multitude of resources and information available to me - BUT I continue to be amazed at how challenging it can be for me with all of those benefits!! We started with the sensory piece and have been working with trying to even out the sleeping patterns. We have again been fortunate with her teacher and current school situation. She is in a 1st-3rd grade montessori classroom which provides the structure and movement she needs as well as an appropriate level of sensory stimulus.

Steps Down the Path
My first step was to read through the report a few times and I highlighted or jotted down kind of an outline of important things/phrases I needed to remember. What my daughter did well with versus things that were challenging.

After discussing my thoughts with my husband (and my friend at school) I shared the results of the eval with her teacher and took with me my notes that covered what I thought were the main points for understanding my daughter (as a learner). I asked her teacher if she had seen any struggles with these things at school after pointing out some things that we had noticed at home. Her teacher was wonderful and open to information and strategies as needed. We discussed her reading which was coming along well. Her teacher had noticed some of the auditory mis-cues, but they hadn't been creating a big problem in the classroom. Neither of us felt that we needed to seek support services through the school system at this time. WHEW!!!

Sensory Another highly recommended stop in Western Michigan is Viking Fitness! They are awesome - and their center is a great place to start for sensory tools. We found a weighted blanket that can also be heated in the microwave which we use at bedtime - very soothing! We also found some excellent fidget tools and exercise bands. I purchased some chew tube for her and for some students at school and we are looking into a hammock like swing to hang in our basement for the vestibular stimulation.

Next stop: the health store for some liquid melatonin. Our pediatrician recommended checking dosages recommended at the AAP site, though I have to admit that I had a hard time finding a good source. We have seen that this helps her sleep at night, though it is more successful with 1) a regular bedtime routine and 2) the weighted blanket. We've also worked with yoga for kids and remind her to practice her breathing when she's thinking she can't sleep (which can still be almost every night sometimes - I wish my husband and I were more in sync with administering the melatonin).

Next, we've tried to work in regular physical stimulation for her each day. Deep pressure with tickling or wrestling, rolling an exercise ball over her, using the electric massager or kicking a standing punching bag. She also likes to jump around on a gym mat which she got for Christmas. For vestibular, we're looking for a swing, she likes to do somersaults and we have an exercise ball she rolls around on. She also likes to sit on a wiggle seat at the dinner table, though she often likes to sit on it on her knees with the pointier side up... to each his own....

We're still trying to find a good balance for strategies when she gets overloaded, but she now has her own "quiet room" which is a small closet in the hall by her room. There's a lamp and a beanbag in there now. Her "private" belongings that she doesn't want her sister to mess with and some books. It's small with low lighting and she can basically de-stimulate herself in there when she needs and feels like she has something that just she controls (for the most part) so it also addresses her anxiety. It's awesome really.

At this point in the school year, her reading was At Grade Level on her report card and will more than likely be Above next quarter (she's gone from struggling with c-a-t in the fall to reading just about anything put in front of her). We are at the point where we are getting ready to tackle more of the auditory processing, especially since her physical hearing seems to be intact but she has trouble with processing what she hears - especially on the phone! So, next stop: evaluating therapies and interventions for auditory processing.

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