Whew. It's been a busy day and I'm tuckered out. I'm going to be brief. Tonight's session had two speakers, Kathryn Harris, Occupational Therapist, and Dr. Dunc.
Ms. Harris spoke about Sensory Integration Dysfunction. This occurs when the brain isn't sorting and processing sensory information, things like sight, taste and sound, the way it should. Some kids will have a high threshold, where it takes a lot before they will feel or see something. These kids tend to enjoy high impact activities like sports or will seek out heavy stimulus like loud noises. Other kids will have a low threshold and are extremely sensitive to things. These kids will say that their clothing is scratchy or the music is too loud and so on.
My son Luke is definitely a low threshold boy. He's always been sensitive to his clothing. For example, he won't wear t-shirts with an iron-on decal because he can feel the sticky part on the inside of the shirt. I understood this, easily, but Ms. Harris' speech helped me to identify one area that has puzzled me for a long time.
Luke is 12 and he still eats with his fingers. I gently remind him time after time and he still does it. Well, apparently, children with Sensory Integration Dysfunction can also be bothered by the feel of a utensil in their mouth. Luke eats with a spoon at breakfast, but I imagine a fork is just pointy enough to bother him at supper. I may suggest to him that he try using a spoon at dinner too and see if that helps. At some point, this boy needs to learn how to eat with out using his fingers.
Ms. Harris also offered some resources to help with Sensory Integration Dysfunction including these websites:
Habit Reversal Training (HRT), and for kids with OCD there is Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP).
Dr. Dunc has used HRT himself, with success, but he reports that it is very hard work. First, you have to be aware of the tics, what they are, when they happen and what things are likely to trigger then. Then, starting with one tic only, you try to replace the tic with a different behavior that makes the tic impossible. The replacement behavior should be less annoying than the tic and easy to do. It does sound like a lot of work, and fortunately for us, none of Luke's tics are terribly annoying.
The Exposure and Response Prevention therapy for kids with OCD took up most of the discussion time because it was very dramatic. Basically, Dr. Dunc has a set of tools that he uses to help kids with OCD see it as something separate from themselves that is a mean bully making them do these things. He uses humor to support the kids as they tackle the OCD bully and turn it on its head. For kids with OCD, this type of therapy can be even more effective than medication.