Today begins my series on therapies available to the SPD child. There are many therapies, both professional therapies and those easily done at home and through activities and sports. If your child has been diagnosed SPD, likely he or she has physical issues with coordination. If there are issues with gravitational security, there may be high anxiety along with the physical issues. Sometimes, there are speech issues due to the lack of ability the child has to "feel" their tongue and mouth to make and form words. Likely you have been referred to several specialists.
Every child is different, and sometimes exploring a wide variety of therapies, you hit on several that work.
Occupational therapy is a way to help your child read better, write in a correct manner (not gripping the pencil so hard it breaks, making handwriting legible, etc.) fine motor skills, planning, processing and better functioning in school situations. They work with training the eyes and the body to work in tandem. The occupational therapist will use many different methods of helping your child think and reason better, along with writing, reading and processing skills.
Physical therapy addresses the muscle laxity and coordination problems of the body. This might consist of swinging on a low swing near the ground on their belly, jumping in ball pits, riding bikes, hanging from bars, balancing on low balance beams and learning and following directions through an obstacle course. Many physical fears are addressed, particularly the gravitational fear.
Speech therapy is for both expressive (talking) and receptive (listening) language. There is also work done to better process language, follow story plots, etc.
The good thing about these therapies is that they work. They are time consuming and you may feel as though you are constantly spinning your wheels, but given time and patience, your child will be better capable of compensating for the SPD, with more confidence and less anxiety. The earlier you get therapy, the better for your child, but at any age, SPD children can benefit from therapy.
Call your insurance agency to see what is covered in your plan. Also call the school system and ask them to evaluate your child for therapies that he or she might qualify for. The public school system provides therapy to children over 3 that are in need, even if that child is in private education. Early childhood Intervention provides therapy for children under the age of 3. Many times you can also receive services with a public funded rehabilitation center, as they offer partial "scholarships" for therapies.
I believe therapy truly saved my son. He went from being a very fearful, uncoordinated, not confident child, to a pretty good defensive flag foot ball player. Will he likely be a professional athlete? No. But he enjoys biking, skateboarding, scooters, running, basketball and talking with all ages of people. He can navigate a playground and a kickball diamond with out fear. Perhaps not the most coordinated child on the playground, but he is no longer afraid.
In order to give your child the best chance to do well in life, therapy is important, accessible and necessary.
Next week I will talk about some unconventional therapies we have done in addition to the traditional.