This is another question I’m often asked whenever someone learns that J is going to Occupational Therapy (OT).
As I mentioned in a previous post, J was wiped out after his first session of OT and definitely a bit off during his second. I felt that he was more sensitive, being triggered more easily and not listening as well as he normally does. I posed the question in some of the SPD Groups I joined on FaceBook. As I assumed, this is all normal. Other parents had experienced the same with their child in the beginning stages of OT, and some even continued as time went on. One mom shared her concern over her son being sensitive after his OT sessions. She has a cousin that is also an Occupational Therapist and reached out to her to see if this was a typical reaction. Her cousin assured her that it was perfectly normal. She explained that it may be a delayed reaction from being in an environment that felt good and organized his body. When going back to regular life, it kind of kicks the sensory system out of whack. She recommended discussing strategies with his therapist for the transition. I will be taking this advice as well.
Ok, but what does OT actually do to help with sensory integration? The following was taken directly from the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder’s website:
Occupational therapy with a sensory integration approach typically takes place in a sensory-rich environment sometimes called the “OT gym.” During OT sessions, the therapist guides the child through fun activities that are subtly structured so the child is constantly challenged, but always successful.
The goal of Occupational Therapy is to foster appropriate responses to sensation in an active, meaningful, and fun way so the child is able to behave in a more functional manner. Over time, the appropriate responses generalize to the environment beyond the clinic including home, school, and the larger community. Effective occupational therapy thus enables children with SPD to take part in the normal activities of childhood, such as playing with friends, enjoying school, eating, dressing, and sleeping.
We’re still in the beginning stages of OT. It will take a lot of work and I look forward to coming up with the right sensory diet for J. This will help prevent or help us better deal with triggers. Like I said before, hard work pays off!