Tuesday, 14 August 2012

We all Have Sensory Needs

One of the main issues that Jack and Nate have related to their autism is a preponderance of sensory needs.    If you saw the picture of Nathan from my last post (standing on his head), you might already get the idea.  He has always liked things pressed on his head and face.  He used to bang his head on a very regular basis.  I am happy to say that this has stopped- been close to 4 months now.  I was so worried that he would end up needing a helmet to keep from hurting himself.  He still seeks deep pressure all of the time.  He is often standing on his head when I go to get him out of his crib, he pushes his head against the furniture, he takes my hands, places them on his face, and pushes down, seeking input.  He is also THE MOST ticklish child I have seen in my life.  Probably one of the first signs we had that something was a little funky- couldn't change his diaper without him laughing hysterically.  To this day, if I touch his head, he giggles.

Both boys love to be thrown- like a sack of potatoes onto the couch, the bed, over and over again.  They both love to be wrapped up tightly in blankets (at least for a little while).  Nate seeks out small spaces and likes to stand in them.  Everything still goes in his mouth, and even Jack's to a certain extent.

One of the main things they work on in occupational therapy is their sensory needs.  They play with things like beans, weigh the boys down with beanbags, put them on the trampoline.  One of the biggies is movement- when Jack first started, he could tolerate simple back and forth movement, but if they tried to turn him (like on a tire swing) at all he would completely lose it ("what the hell???").  This is going back to the vestibular issues I have mentioned before.  http://jackandnatesmom.blogspot.com/2012/07/autism-and-vestibular-issues.html.  Nate also had issues with this type of movement, and has also improved quite a bit.  Jack even enjoys the zip line now.

I took the boys to the playground last night- they both now crave the swings.  Nathan even says "more swing", which is a pretty big deal.  I have to give 10, 5, 2, and 1 minute warnings when we are done.  I have to require Jack to go down the slide 5 times before he can swing, otherwise he will do nothing else, and he needs to challenge himself.  I am still battling with him over pumping his legs- I mean who wouldn't want to be pushed all of the time, it's a pretty sweet deal.  I keep trying to tell him to lean into it to pump, but honestly, he has no idea what this means.  So I decided to jump on a swing and show him.....whoa is that relaxing!!!!  I did not want to get off.  I had forgotten how calming something like swinging can be.  Even as a teen, I used to love to swing on the beach in my hometown- it was a way I unwound.  Last night reminded me of this.  And it made me think about the fact that we all have sensory needs.  Yes, they are more pronounced in autism (I mean, I don't stand on my head), but we all have things that we seek for comfort.  Hugs.  hand holding.  snuggling under the blankets.  tapping feet (drive John crazy with this- nervous habit).  It will be very interesting, as the boys grow, to see how their sensory needs change- to see what they will be as adults.  People didn't discuss sensory issues nearly as much when we were kids, didn't notice or identify them.  I mean, I wonder what kind of sensory needs I had when I was a little kid.  Just thinking.....

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