I want to make this as short and to the point as possible... I need to write it out and I want to record the process so I can refer back to it, but I could probably write for days on this topic. But here is the story (in bullet points) about why Ryan is now recieving OT and Speech.
- From birth Ryan has always been full of challenges. Colic, difficulty nursing, always appeared anxious, cradle cap, and eczema. Then once he turned one we found out about the food allergies and he has had frequent outbreaks since. He had delayed speech issue and constant drooling. And as he got older I was starting to get concerned about his behavior. My mommy gut told me something else was going on.
-We had him evaluated by early intervention at 2years old, and he tested high enough to not need any services, not even for speech.
- At about 2.5 years old, his school recommended we do a follow up speech eval because it was definitely a concern. And they also brought up doing the full developmental evaluation because of some other minor issues they were seeing (more about this in a minute).
-He did have a speech eval in November 2013, and he started receiving speech therapy right away.
- The speech started to improve, but like the teachers mentioned, I was also continuing to see the behaviors issues. Finally right after his 3rd birthday we went to Children's Specialized Hospital to get a full developmental evaluation.
- In a minute I will list some of the things that had me concerned. There were many days that I would think he was just being a totally normal 3 year old toddler, and then there were days that I would be so worried and keep thinking "why is he doing that". Thats when I started asking other people their opinions- his teachers, his speech therapist, his pediatrician. Considering he was my first child, I had no idea what was normal behavior vs. not normal. But like I said, my gut was telling me something is going on. Here is a list of just some of the things that caught my attention:
hitting and touching things constantly
constant swinging of hands, banging his head, kicking his feet
shoveling food in his mouth
talking very loudly
constant talking (even if we can't understand what he is saying)
can't sit still
never really plays with anything- just moves around the room jumping from toy to toy
multiple extreme tantrums every day
avoid big groups
gets overstimulated by large groups or loud places
over away of all noise
separates himself from friends at school
wants to hang out with the adults not kids his age
has trouble falling asleep at night (getting worse as he gets older)
still needs binky to sleep
But he is also one of the sweetest, most loving kids I have ever met. He has the sweetest heart and he is truly a love bug. He loves everyone, he is enthusiast about everything, he loves giving hugs and kisses, he talks about his friends all the time, he is always asking to go visit people. He remembers everything! If you meet him once and play with him even just for a few minutes, he will remember you and look forward to seeing you again.
I am sure there is more- I don't have my list in front of me. But these are just the ones that come to mind right now.
-So these can all be normal toddler behaviors, but when one child has all of these characteristics, and they have them in many different sensory areas (visual, auditory, etc), then it can be a sign of concern.
-The initial evaluation validated my concern. We left that appointment with a diagnosis of ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. I was told that they normally don't diagnose ADHD until at least 5 years old, but he had clear symptoms in every category to make a confident diagnosis now. They also checked for signs of high functioning autism... they do not believe he is on that spectrum at this time, even though he does have a few of the traits. Anyway I left feeling two things...first was a sense of relief. With a diagnosis means we can get some help and hopefully make changes so that Ryan has a better chance of improving (such a bad word choice, but can't think of anything else) as he gets older. But also I was sad for him. As a teacher, I can see things from the other perspective. I remember the students with Autism and ADD and ADHD and how much they struggled in a high school setting. I remember how they were looked at as the weird kids in class by the other students. To think of Ryan as being anything but loved by everyone around him, made me very sad. I hated the idea of putting a label on him at such a young age. But like I said, he needs that label in order to receive services.
-After that appointment we were recommended for a speech eval, an Occupational therapy eval, and a pysch eval. So far we have done the ST and OT. But evals proved that yes he did qualify and need both therapies. The speech eval showed him at a very high level of comprehension and intelligent (not surprised at all....he is super smart, he shocks us every day) but a low muscle tone of the mouth and jaw and trouble with annunciation. The OT eval was more detailed. She recommended that he come for therapy twice a week for 3 months. The eval showed concerns with his body awareness, hyper activity, lack of focus, auditory processing, and sensory seeking behaviors.
-So that brings us to where we are now. We are really just starting the process. We have finished the evaluations, we are scheduled to start therapy next week, and hopefully we will see some changes.
-This week was extra hard, his behavior at home has just been wild (there is really no other way to describe it). He is constantly in motion, he has smashed his head into many things for no real reason, his hands and feet are out of control, he runs around just screaming random noises, he goes from being crazy to crying and apologizing within seconds.... Mike and I are at a loss. I'm thankful that we are starting this process because I need help on how to help him at home. Ironically, his behavior in bigger groups (play dates, birthday parties, school) has gotten better recently... its the behavior at home that has gotten out of control.
-Lastly, as we are starting down this road, it has lead me to doing a lot of research on what I can be doing at home to compliment what they will be doing in therapy. I have since found a tremendous amount of information and connections between nutrition, diet, the immune system, and gut health and behavior/brain disabilities such as Autism, ADHD, SPD, Asbergers. Also the connection between chronic skin conditions and allergies.
-That brings us back to why I brought up Ryan's health as a baby... because I am seeing how its all connected. Immune system and gut health affects skin conditions and allergies and ultimately the brain. Its not by chance that he has had issues with his gut, his skin, and now his brain. Its all connected. So its my job now to do everything I can do to improve his immune system and gut health so that he has a better chance at fighting the chronic conditions of eczema, allergies, and now ADHD. AND I want to be more educated and proactive for Patrick so that hopefully we do not have to go down this road again. More about how I am going about doing this to come in a later post!