Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Leaky Brakes 101 - Part 3

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:
Dr. Dunc's talk was about "Brake Jobs", or ways to help kids with TS or OCD put on the brakes and stop some of their bothersome behaviors. For kids with TS there is 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.


  1. Hi! I was just clicking Random Next Blogs and came upon yours.

    I have SID as do my sons (in varying degrees)
    My middle oscilates bewteen hypersensitive and hyposensitive, my other two are pretty much hypersenstive. I am both like my middle son. buy my only hyposensitive is pain, the rest is hyper.

    I thought it was interesting to come upon your blog so randomly.

    please swing by sometime if you get the chance.


  2. Your talk of cutlery reminds me of a former roommate, who had some weird quirks. For example, she liked using a plastic spoon with ice cream, a plastic cup with milk, but a glass glass with iced tea... stuff like that. It occurred to me that perhaps you might want to try different types of cutlery with your son, to see if he likes other kinds better. (Sturier plastic cutlery can still be washed and reused quite a bit.)

  3. I also can not stand any of those t-shirts with the plastic decal on the outside. I hate the way it feels thru the shirt. M-m-m-m, I don't feel the same way about utensils tho ... well not exactly. I absolutely hate bent fork prongs or any roughness on spoons and have to trade for goods one before I can eat. I just thought I was weird! It's really great that you're taking this class. And thanks for writing about it ... I'm finding it very interesting also.