Tuesday, December 29, 2015

James' Sensory Processing Disorder Diagnosis

For what seems like forever we have been battling James with his clothes and his shoes. It had gotten to the point that he would only wear athletic shorts (because of no buttons and zippers) and it was at least 30 minutes and crying and meltdowns every morning to get shoes on him. His teacher mentioned that the shoes were starting to be an issue at school (he constantly says they "aren't right" and wants you to retie them and retie them over and over again). Whenever I would look up what to do about kids who have issues with clothes and shoes, I kept finding information about kids with sensory processing disorder. The more I read about it, the more the descriptions seemed to fit James! In all areas: picky eating, resistance to change/transitions, not liking being touched, not understanding/respecting other's personal spaces just to name a few! When I mentioned I was thinking of getting him tested by an occupational therapist for sensory issues to his teacher, she agreed and said that it couldn't hurt to get more information. I couldn't find a place near us that took our insurance, so I called around and found a place we could self-pay. They had a cancellation the next day, so I snapped up the appointment slot! My mom came to watch Rett, since the evaluation takes so long.

I was nervous that he wouldn't cooperate with the therapist so that she could get an accurate view of what was happening, so I bribed him with this toy from Walmart. He picked it out the day before and waiting until the afternoon the next day almost killed him. I think it was the hardest thing he has ever done to not open this toy until then. He even told me that he started to open it, but then he decided to make a better choice and didn't :)

The office was an hour away from our house and we had long time in the waiting room until it was our turn, so James got a little crazy :) They ended up turning off the water to the water fountain with a switch behind the front desk because he couldn't leave it alone. The therapist said that happens alot :)

James did amazing for the evaluation! She tested 7 different sensory areas and found that he had significant problems with two main ones: his sense of gravity and his sense of touch. She said that his sense of gravity issues makes it so that he doesn't have a clear sense of his body in relation to the rest of the world and that one of the ways that it can manifest is a general sense of unease and anxiety, which leads to his fear of change and difficulties with transitions. His touch sensitivity makes it so that his "light touch" sensory system overreacts to things like clothes on his skin or someone touching him (like to hold his hand). She said that to him, it is like someone just came up to him and scratched him really hard. It genuinely bothers him and puts him in fight or flight mode. 

She recommended that he have occupational therapy 1 to 2 times a week for six months and has us starting some sensory exercises with him at home that will help him. One of the things she had us start with him is deep pressure massage over his extremities, especially his feet ideally every 2 hours that he is awake. We don't usually do it that often, but it is amazing how much it helps him. It calms down his overactive nervous system and makes things easier for him to handle. For example, he was jumping around going crazy and we sat down to do our "rubbing" and all of a sudden he was still and looking at this book. It was such a quick change! I just wish it lasted longer :)

I found a pediatric occupational therapy clinic that is closer than where we got his evaluation at, but we have been waiting for our insurance to approve a waiver so that we can take him there. The chiropractor school near us offers free services to kids under age 12, so he has started going there once a week to get adjusted and do some other therapy to help support his nervous system. At his first appointment, the chiropractor checked a lot of his reflexes and discovered that he still has some reflexes that he is supposed to have outgrown, like the babinski reflex on his feet and a rooting reflex in his left cheek (it was crazy to watch, she brushed against his cheek and I saw his eye and cheek twitch). She said that it really common for kids with sensory/add issues to have retained primitive reflexes and that all it indicates is that their brain has some developmental delay. So now we are working on extinguishing those reflexes so that the parts of his brain that were busy retaining them will be freed up to work on integrating his senses better, concentration, impulse control, and all those higher functions.

He is becoming a pro at getting adjusted and at going to appointments. Pretty soon he will have the weekly chiropractor appointments in addition to 1 or 2 times a week at the occupational therapist. Thankfully all of those appointments are like going somewhere to play, so he doesn't mind them.

So, life has gotten a little busier for us dealing with insurance, appointments, and all that stuff, but it has been so nice to feel like we understand James more and why he does the things he does. I've kept his teacher updated on all of his results and she has been amazing about it. She has always been very kind and understanding with James, but she has had professional experience with kids like him before so it is nice to know that he isn't being misunderstood when he has his meltdowns or outbursts. It also has given us hope as parents to know that there are things we can do to help him and that it is ok to have different expectations for him. The Sunday before his initial evaluation, I got released from my calling as primary president, so it definitely felt like Heavenly Father saying, "let me help ease your stress" which was a very welcome blessing!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Beginning of December

Santa has arrived at Christmas Park in downtown New Smyrna! It is free for kids to come to his little house on main street and there usually isn't a line. James was excited to talk to him about all the things he wanted (a remote control submarine and a remote control boat), but Rett kept hiding his head and saying, "scary, scary". He did however accept a peppermint from him :)

James and I went for a walk/bike ride around the neighborhood while Rett took a nap at home with my mom.We went up to the park in our neighborhood about 1/2 mile away, played for a little bit, then rode back.

Rett keeps rearranging my porcelain nativity set, so the pieces are always in different random places from the day before. I've given up on putting them where they should be. They have a little people nativity set AND their own little Christmas tree and they still mess with the big one.

The boys looooove to ride in Anthony's new truck. They get so excited if we tell them we are going in it. James also likes to bring his cars for a ride and line them up on arm rest.

Anthony was waiting with the boys in the primary room after church while I was doing some primary stuff and James drew this picture of me on the chalkboard. Usually his pictures are just scribbles on a page and don't have recognizable shapes or forms, so it was really exciting to see him do this!

Our Elf has arrived to spy on the boys for Santa! James decided that he can be "James 2" since that makes more sense than James 3 that he insisted on last year.

The elf usually just moves around to different rooms in our house, but one night he did get into the marshmallows and the chocolate icing.

We went to the New Smyrna Christmas parade for the first time this year! They close the street Anthony's office is on, so he got to get out of work early and go with us. James' school had a float in the parade and they invited kids to be on it, but I didn't think all the waiting and sitting still would work for him. I was right :)

Rett really didn't like the loud sirens, so we would cover his ears when they came by. Don't you just love his sad face??? So dang cute!

Rett had a lollipop in one hand and a candy cane in another. There was so much candy!!

We loved the floats with Florida snow! They had large bubble machines blowing thick bubbles that looked like snow.

One float threw out a Christmas elf hat, so Rett wore it for a few seconds.

This is just the beginning, we have so much Christmas fun planned! We have our ward party, another Christmas parade, a musical fireside where I am playing my flute in 4 different songs, James' school Christmas play, and our 10 year anniversary (!!) all in the span of one week!

Thanksgiving Week

James' school was closed the entire week of Thanksgiving, so we had extra time for some fun! We took advantage of the November 70% off admission deal at Kennedy Space Center and went Tuesday with Anthony's parents. James was soooooo excited. This is him finding me in the morning, excited to tell me it was finally the day for the space center.

James brought his toy space shuttle that Mimi and Papa bought him last year so that he can find one exactly like it. His wheel broke off a long time ago, so he decided once he gets a new one, the old one can be Retty boy's. At the gift shop he fell in love with this ridiculously overpriced space shuttle with boosters and fuel tank. He wanted me to take a picture for Santa.

We decided to brave the bus tour this year. Usually I avoid enclosed spaces where you can't escape with a crying kid, but I was hopeful it would be okay.

It all started out great, and 30 minutes of the 40 minute tour was wonderful. The last 10 minutes Rett decided he was done and screamed bloody murder, kept throwing himself on the ground and refused any attempts by me to calm him down (food, phone, pacifer, nothing worked). I'm pretty sure we cured everyone on that bus of wanting/wanting any more kids :)

The tour bus took us by the different launch pads and the crawler that takes the shuttle to the launch pad.

James loved the slide again this year. He wasn't afraid at all!

The next day, after Anthony come home from work, we drove to my mom's house to drop off the kids. Then Anthony and I drove into Gainesville where my brother is renting our old condo. It was in desperate need of a good scrubbing and new paint, so we spent Anthony's two days off of work spiffing it up. My mom had fun with the boys, spoiling them rotten and taking them places. They had fun at the park and James found a friend with a cool remote control truck to play with.

Daniel, Anthony, and I spent all of Thanksgiving day painting. Then we went to my mom's for dinner, drove back and spent the next morning doing cleaning and touch ups. I was very proud of our hard work. It was a little disheartening to see how run down everything looked, but I felt a lot better once we finished. It also helped that Daniel replaced the light bulbs so that it didn't have a yellow, dingy overcast.

Since we basically skipped Thanksgiving, I am even more excited for Christmas at our house. We even put our tree up early (before December) to help us get in the spirit!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Beginning of November

We got James' school picture and his soccer team picture. Isn't my boy so handsome??

Anthony was working on expanding our garden to add watermelons, raspberries, and specialty blue berries. James loves to help dig and play in the dirt, so he "helped".

James' class had their monthly pizza day, so we joined him for lunch before taking him home. I set Rett up with a plate, put it in little pieces for him, and left an extra big piece on his plate for later. I looked over and he had bypassed the little pieces and was attacking the big piece :)

I tried to get a picture of James and this is what he gave me.

I did a custom order for my etsy shop of a mario bow tie. I found the fabric for her and I just fell in love with how it turned out! Once I order more fabric I can list it in my shop for other people to buy. I think it will be pretty popular!

Rett loves to say prayers, and he is so dang cute when he does it. He repeats what we say in his own little munchkin voice. James never liked saying prayers. so it is so fun for us to see him get so excited.

I was having a rough day, where everything seemed to be going against me. I told James we would go to a festival that was planned a few cities over, but I really didn't want to. But since I told James we were going, I got everything ready and got in the car. On the drive there it started pouring down rain so hard, I could barely see out of the windshield! I even had a small panic attack on the highway, it was that stressful. When we got there, the festival was cancelled because of the rain, so we went to Chuck E Cheese instead. Both of the boys had fun and once the rain settled down we were able to go home. Rett fell asleep in the car and when I got him out he went right back to sleep in my arms. It was too late in the day to put him in his crib, so I just snuggled him on the couch. It was so nice! It felt so good to just soak him all in. We are so busy all the time, I don't get to do that very often.

James wanted to take a picture of us because he said we were "so cute".

We invited Anthony's parents over for dinner to celebrate his mom's birthday early since we were going to be out of town. James had a blast playing with his cousin Nevada!

Anthony has been looking for a newer truck to replace his for months and he finally found the one! We all drove to orlando together so that he could test drive it. He took James with him and I walked around the apartment complex with Rett.

When they got back from the test drive, he was sold! We took it home and got it registered under Anthony's name the same day. It is sooooo nice to have two cars that we all fit in now. We have the extra car seats installed in Anthony's back seat so now he can go places by himself with the boys when I am gone with the van. The boys love to ride in the truck and get so excited if they get to go anywhere in it. Yay for Anthony!