Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Small Successes

We're learning so much from our OT and are seeing small successes already!

One of the things that often plagues SPD kids is oversensitivity during haircuts, which leads to tactile defensiveness and meltdowns! It doesn't help that one time the hairstylist knicked his ear with the clippers. Even though he sometimes wants to get his haircut, and will even ask to go, he only lasts about 3 minutes before all the combing and tugging at his scalp drives him crazy. At that point, haircutting becomes quite the struggle, if it is possible at all -- he either screams, refuses to hold still, or even hits at anyone trying to comfort him or cut his hair. We've tried everything -- distraction (books, movies, toys, candy), rewards (bribing him with a trip to the dollar store or a new toy or more candy), going really slowly and talking him through it at every step, trying to avoid his triggers (the cape around his neck and any touching of his ears at all), etc.

Some sessions have been more successful than others, but none of the have been comfortable, and some have been downright miserable (screaming till he nearly vomits or at least driving EVERYONE in the place crazy). We both end up covered in sticky sugar, hair clippings, sweat and tears, and a marginally crummy haircut. We do haircuts as infrequently as possible (every few months) but he's got so much hair that we really can't just let it grow, so it needs to be done.

On his birthday (what a mean mom, eh?), we wanted him to have a nice haircut for his party and pictures. We had a friend's mom (who has worked off and on as a hairstylist) come to the house and tried all our new coping tools. He was in his own environment with some distraction (a movie and lots of conversation about it). We skipped the cape, let him sit in his favorite chair, and were very careful to guard his ears (he'll let mom or dad cover them while stylist clips around them). And he got a good 5 minutes in before he started to get upset enough to be uncontrollable squirmy and a bit combative. That's when I pulled out the weighted blanket to lay across his lap and chest, and applied pressure across his shoulders while dad covered his ears. And I dare say we got the best cut he's gotten so far! It still wasn't without work and a bit of frustration on his part (and ours), but he never got to tears, and his haircut looks good! SUCCESS in our book!

Sleep (or rather, falling and staying asleep) has always been a big struggle as well. SPD often involves difficulty regulating arousal levels -- being oversensitive to sensory input means you go from mild to extremely overstimulated very quickly and have a hard time calming your nervous system back down. JoNo has never slept fully through the night and still comes to bed with us by around midnight most nights. He still wakes up another time or two, but at least we don't have to walk down the hall to comfort him back to sleep again, and we all fall asleep faster. We would never leave him to cry himself to sleep but we do wait when he first wakes to be sure he needs comfort to get back to sleep -- and only VERY rarely is he able to get back to sleep on his own. Instead, his cries for comfort escalate until he's hysterical or we've come to comfort him.

I can count on one hand the number of times he's slept past 1:00 without waking. Since we've been using the weighted blanket, he's had three nights (out of eight or so) that he's slept past midnight (twice until nearly 2:00 am and once until 3:30 am)! Obviously there's still a long way to go, but we'll take any progress we can get!


Carla said...

he did look quite handsome at his shindig!

Carla said...

Any updates?