Friday, February 2, 2007

End of Round One: A --1, Occupation Therapist -- 0

Yesterday was A's first day of occupational therapy. He needs some work on basic skills, such as opening jars, holding eating utensils and pens/crayons. He will also be working on some gross motor skills work to improve his balance, which is grand at times and sketchy at others. Since this was our first session, his very nice occupational therapist (OT), Brigid, needed to assess what levels A is at in various skills.

A is a very smart child, despite his lack of communication at this point, and has pretty good spatial skills. He can match shapes easily, and figure out what fits where very quickly. One of the ways he has learned this is at home from discovering what fits into the VCR and what doesn't. (In case you ever wanted to know, you can fit up to 25 CDs in the slot opening of a VCR if they're stacked and shoved in there just right; also, waffles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches fit in there rather nicely. Shoes and cups don't fit.) So as the OT was putting our son "through his paces", he is bored with the whole process and starts shooting dark looks her way. That is, until the wooden mailbox comes out with the wooden envelopes of different sizes. He loved it. Trouble started when she put it away to move on to something else.

The good news is, Brigid got to see exactly how our son can get when upset. The bad news is, she got screamed at, hit, kicked, and spit on. I was a bit embarrassed, but at the same time was interested to see how she would handle it. She did just fine, took it in stride. After a couple of minutes, he was fine. But thereafter, every time she changed activities on him, he would have the same type of reaction as when the mailbox was put away.

After 45 minutes, we called it a day. We go back next week. I know A was just testing his limits with her; he does this with most new people and situations.

Something that I still struggle with occasionally is being a little embarrassed of my son's behavior in public. This is something that I'm working on, and I'm a lot better than I was initially (before I knew about the autism). I know in my brain that I shouldn't be ashamed of how my son acts if it's something he can't help (things he can help are another story entirely). But there are still occasions where I can feel my face flush as I'm trying to calm him down. For example, yesterday morning we had to go to the store to pick up some diapers. A only had one left, and weather had prevented us from going out earlier in the week. At the checkout register, as I'm putting A's coat back on him, he starts to scream and cry ~ and by cry, I mean howl loud enough to rival a storm siren. I realized that I was moving faster and faster the closer I got to the store entrance and had to force myself to slow down. Everyone, and I do mean everyone within visibility, was staring at us. Most of the time I'm OK with it now, but there are still moments where I'm caught off-guard.

None of this excuses me from being embarrassed, of course; I shouldn't be. I simply write this so people know what I struggle with. I'm a work in progress, too.

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