My youngest son Amos has been in speech, physical, and occupational therapy for two years now. He can eat without vomiting, walk independently and can color with crayons. Our walls and tables, even upholstered chairs attest to that. He still struggles though to eat properly with a spoon or fork and doesn’t yet try to get himself dressed and can’t manipulate objects well. For the most part, this is what we have done in OT. PT has been working on jumping and climbing and in speech, he is encouraged to approximate sounds and oral motor exercises. Days and days and hundreds of hours, Amos has worked on accomplishing the tasks that are presented.
In June, we headed to Yale to see an oral motor specialist and she did a comprehensive assessment, for which she is known across the work. She also suggested a full OT evaluation and an appointment with an ENT. We did both and Amos had surgery a month later, a posterior tongue tie release and for the first time, he can use his tongue to move food in his mouth. We had a two hour assessment with an OT after which she articulated and suggested things to do with Amos. She did not mention coloring, following directions, completing tasks, nothing having to do with his fine motor capabilities. No, instead I was offered a barrage of strange words, but they made sense, even in their glaring nuance and six weeks later, we are seeing real measurable progress. Sensory diet, vestibular system, crossing the midline….all new ideas given to us.
Amos still doesn’t follow directions particularly well. She said no more coloring and puzzles for him; he has bigger fish to fry and so this has been a summer of frying fish. He still can’t jump though he does like to try but his feet don’t get off the ground quite yet. He can do other things though. Lots of amazing feats that actually mean something to our daily living. Therapy in a light that I never knew even existed. Since we started the new regimen, Amos is virtually a new person and more of a member of our family.
We have been out to three meals and didn’t have to leave the restaurant or put him in the car to watch a movie as we finished. He has gotten in two new pools the last month and didn’t demand “out.” He has been pushed by a peer and didn’t cry. Nope, he pushed her back and kept moving. Just last night he had a big fit over wanting a pop tart for dinner, not his spaghetti. I stood my ground and after five minutes of desperate crying, he came back to the table and ate his dinner. He may not take turns well, still has to crawl down a curb, eats with his fingers too often but he is getting it. It is life and the big things must come first, the details can come later.
The trouble is that I didn’t know what we needed to do. I had no idea and so, I am left thinking of all the families like mine who are staring into darkness. Perhaps Amos is so unusual that his case doesn’t apply to others, but I don’t think so. He’s far from typical but he’s making progress and so, I say therapy is whatever you find and do and try that finally works.