We got Aiden's Occupational Therapist report back last week and although it really didn't tell us anything we didn't already know it can still be hard to see things in an official report. It is very emotional for me to think of all that Aiden has to deal with. The report was really long but I think this quote sums it up
That says "Overall it would appear that Aiden is experiencing multiple challenges in both the home and school environments due to difficulties processing sensory information in the same way as most of his peers. This is consistent with a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum." And just think that he has ADHD and Asthma on top of it all.
Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) is a a neurological condition in and of itself, but it is most often associated with other neurological conditions, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder, and Tourette’s Syndrome. Unlike blindness or deafness, where a person is unable to sense or receive input from sight or sound, a person with SID is able to perceive sensory stimuli. The deficit lies in the brain’s inability to process the stimuli. If the person with SID is hyposensitive to sensory input such as touch, he or she may be more likely to be injured walking into objects or not realizing an object was too hot. A SID patient who is hypersensitive to input such as noise, will often respond loudly and negatively to surprise noises. They may also be able to hear soft noises, such as the buzz from fluorescent lights which is imperceptible to a typical person....
....Consider a trip to a large retail store. Most people can block out the ambient noise, smells, and visual stimuli. But for someone with sensory issues, this is a serious challenge. He has to sort through a plethora of voices and beeps and rattles which may wreak havoc on his nerves. He is also bombarded with images, products, unfamiliar faces, and bright lighting. The brain of a person with autism is not wired to determine which sensory stimuli should be ignored. Waiting in line may also be a painful experience, because it seems to serve no purpose. The child may feel restrained and uncomfortable. The frustration may be magnified by an inability to communicate or release these feelings. The child does not know what to expect and he does not know what is expected of him.
I won't go into all the details of Aiden's report but this was one of the pages...
What all those things mean isn't really the point... you just need to know that "Definite Difference" means that he scored in the lowest 2% of kids his age. Which means he has more trouble than 98% of the kids around him. Those are some pretty tough obstacles to overcome.
I would just love for people to be able to SEE how tough it is for Aiden, to KNOW how hard he has to work just to function near the same level as other kids his age. I want people to see that when he is being "difficult" he is not misbehaving, he is simply trying to function. He doesn't process things the same way many of us do. Just because he hears something doesn't mean he is processing it correctly. If the teacher tells him to do something and he doesn't do it that does not mean he isn't listening, it might mean he didn't actually GET what she said. Just imagine for a second how hard it would be to go through your days hearing what everyone is saying but not necessarily comprehending it all. And that is just ONE of his sensory issues.
I also want to point out that none of this refers to his intelligence. His IQ is actually quite high... he's not a genius but he is very smart. And when you consider how well he does despite his challenges you realize just how smart he is. I doubt I would do as well if I were in his shoes.
My kid is awesome. And when I look at all the obstacles he has to overcome every minute of every day I see just how amazing he truly is.
One of the Occupational Therapist's suggestions was to use social stories. Social stories are very simple stories meant to teach a child exactly what to do in a given situation. We've been using social stories with Aiden for years. One example that we have used was for starting grade 2... it said things like "I will have a new teacher. Her name is _____. I will have kids I don't know in my class but I will learn their names. I will go to french class. My teacher will speak in french and sometimes I won't know what the words mean. That is ok. I can ask questions when I don't understand." It had pictures of his teacher, the classroom, his aid...things like that. Basic things that come naturally to most kids but that are really tough for my kid.
One of the social stories she suggested had the phrase "when I am in an assembly I should watch what the kids around me are doing. When they clap I will know it is a good time for me to clap. When they are quiet I know I should be quiet too." etc..
Just knowing that the reason my son freaks out in assemblies is because HE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO and is having a hard time processing all the sights and sounds and changes thrown at him makes me cry. Something so simple to other children causes my child a whole lot of angst.
So next time you see my kid, or a kid like him... just remember that those kids are AMAZING. Remind yourself that they aren't trying to be bad. They aren't trying to tick you off. They are just trying to survive their day. And be kind to their parents because they are probably doing the best they can. :)