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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Weighted Vests, Weighted Blankets, and other Proprioceptive Sensory Solutions

Dovi's biggest sensory issue remains his difficulty "finding himself" in space. The running around, squishing things and throwing things are all stimming techniques he uses because of his need to feel where he is. Children with sensory processing disorder and autism often don't 'feel' things the way we do. They need deep pressure massages to feel stuff. That's why Dovi thinks he can jump off tables without getting "hurt". He doesn't feel pain quickly. When he hurts himself and cries, then I know that the has definitely hurt himself and didn't just get a phantom booboo. B"H he has stopped having sensory meltdowns, for the most part - except when he occasionally wakes at about midnight crying for reasons we can't figure out - but at the chronological age of this part of the story,  2 1/2 - we were trying to figure out how to calm him down from his poor, bitter crying jags where we simply could not figure out what was bothering him. I noticed during his sessions at EECs OT gym that he seemed to calm down a lot when weights were put on him, and it also slowed him down from his manic jumping, spinning, and running. So I set out to find a weighted vest and a weighted blanket, first and foremost.

Unfortunately, they are far from cheap. Currently at TABAC he also wears an excellent deep pressure weighted vest that provides him with the sensory input he needs to sit calmly in his chair and do work. I'm not sure where they purchased it or what it's called. The one I purchased was from and cost about $80. Unfortunately, I searched their site now and don't see anything for a manageable price there.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Swings and other Vestibular Sensory Solutions

I'm going to admit it from the outset. I am not an expert on OT issues and Sensory issues and such. I can only write about our personal experience with Dovi and his issues. So forgive me if I end up talking gibberish or even say something incorrect. If you're an OT or other professional with knowledge in this area - or even if you're a SN mom with experience in this area - please don't hesitate to speak up, correct me, and/or give your input. Thanks.

Now back to Dovi's constant need for motion.

Dovi likes to run back and forth large, empty spaces. I'm not exactly sure what drives the little demon inside of him to spin, spin, spin and run, run, run. I don't know if it's the inner ear imbalance, if he's running away from himself, if he wants to "find" himself in space, or if it's just something he likes to do for fun or boredom.

Carly Fleischmann (whose book you can buy here - admittedly, I havent read it yet, although it's on my planned reading list) - mentioned that she would rock back and forth to get rid of the 'demons' inside of her. For what it's worth, check out this clip from youtube by a person with autism spectrum disorder, on what it's like to have a sensory overload:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Introduction to Sensory Processing Disorder Aids and Solutions

Once Dovi's first SSI check arrived, I went on a big shopping spree and bought him all sorts of sensory equipment. Some of them were hit-and-miss, others were a hit. Instead of bunching them all into one post, I will divide all my purchases into separate posts, one for each of the sensory issues that Dovi deals with. These posts and products will obviously not be in chronological order, as I bought stuff - and am still trying out stuff - all the time, and I'd rather make it easier for casual readers and serious searchers to find the post and product they're looking for instead of scattered around the blog in chronological order.

I will also review products that I did not necessarily buy myself but heard about or saw,

With this introduction out of the way, here are the senses of the sensory system:


The "Five Senses" are really: Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste and Smell. Dovi doesn't seem to have any extra special issues with sights, sounds, tastes and smells - Yes, he gets overwhelmed and overstimulated by too much light and too much sound and he'll retreat to his own world when that happens. He squints at lights when he feels too overstimulated or upset, and he'll cover his ears when he's getting dizzy from the activity (although that can be more vestibular as well). He has a finicky tastes but I never bought anything to deal with that so I don't have any posts to show what we bought for that.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Making use of resources: SSI and Medicaid Waiver

One of the first things that crossed my mind once I knew I was dealing with a serious, long-term disability was I'd better make use of all the resources available if I want to survive this. And the first two resources I could think of were SSI and Medicaid Waiver.

SSI is Supplemental Security Disability Income. One of my uncles has a disability and gets SSI. I never thought I would be receiving it for an immediate family member. It made me sad, but at the same time I was thrilled that there were actually real resource to help me.

When Dovi started dealing with all of his sensory issues it was clear to me that I needed a lot of supplies. I wanted a swing, a pressure vest, a weighted blanket, chewy tubes, a vibrating teether - the works. All of this cost quite a lot of money. I wasn't ready to just put it onto a credit card; I really could have used funding for all of this.

First I tried to apply through Early Intervention's equipment program for a swing. Becca tried to help me, but after months of waiting I got a flat out no. So it was time for Plan B: Apply for SSI. I postponed it and postponed it as I was so busy with Dovi's needs and couldn't find the time to sit and sit at the Social Security office. Plus, I hate government offices of any kind and avoid them like the plague. So to actually have to sit there and be interviewed/probed by a  government official gave me the heebie jeebies.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chanukah musings

Chanukah is over - and I'm glad it is. It was an emotionally wrenching Yom Tov.

Every year, before I had children, Chanukah was one of the hardest holidays for me. I would attend the family Chanukah parties and watch everyone showing off their babies, getting gifts for their kids, while I sat there stoically, trying to partake in conversations I knew nothing about, trying to ignore the maternity clothing and birth stories and whatnot around me.

After ten such torturous Chanukahs I finally became one of 'them'. I had my own baby to bring with me and was able to be part of the world at large. I finally belonged, and it felt awesome. I enjoyed five such blissful Chanukahs. Unfortunately, more often than not, my parents and in-laws both chose to make their parties on Motzei Shabbos, which meant splitting my time between both, which I hate. It means not enjoying either party; escaping from my in-laws' party just before the fun and games start, and arriving at my parents' when all the good food is already consumed. This has been the situation for the 3 or 4 of the past 7 Chanukahs. One Chanukah a blizzard started on that night, and I had foolishly left the house without boots, a scarf or gloves, and without a plastic cover for Dovi's stroller. I arrived at my mother's house with sopping wet stockings, my hands nearly frostbitten, tears rolling down my cheeks, Dovi screaming at the top of his lungs from the cold. I commented that now I know what the Death March must have felt like... (not really though.)

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