One thing I understand now, which I didn’t before is that the major reason my son’s behaviour was so different from other children’s is because of his senses. He wasn’t broken needing to be fixed, he was just fascinated by things that appealed to him and calmed him. Playing with shadows and light. Looking at the way the wind moved the leaves. Spinning objects (not so much any more). Textures under his feet. A heightened sensory awareness of the world around him made his behaviours and attention towards people so different to other children. He’d placed so much importance on these sensory experiences and his ‘need’ to do it that our relationship to him had faded into the background somewhat. So, his development of social understandings, one being language, had been delayed.
The first port of call when Joe was diagnosed at the early age of 2, directed by our Paediotrician, was Speech Therapy. The first speech therapist we came across tried to immediately apply the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Of course, I knew nothing about any of the above I’ve just mentioned at this point. Nothing about sensory stuff. I just thought how on earth am I going to get this kid to give me a card for things he wants? There just seemed to be so many things before that that were missing in the equation to me and it just didn’t seem feasible. Made sense; yes. But he didn’t seem ready.
I followed by gut and waited for an appointment to come up with another speech therapist who seemed to specialize in the field of ASD. I had to wait a few more months to get in with her and it was an agonising wait. I wanted to help my child NOW. I had no patience at this point because the ‘diagnosis’ had me in an impatient flap. I didn’t want to waste one more day in helping my child. But regardless, the wait was worth it.
She has Occupational Therapists underpinning her role as a Speech Therapist. Immediately she had a ‘Sensory Diet’ prescribed for Joe’s sensory needs. “Ok, his sensory needs are blocking his development”. She said. “Providing he has no intellectual impairment, which at this point it’s hard to tell”. “It’s like trying to teach someone to speak Chinese whilst on a rollercoaster. Let’s get him off the rollercoaster, onto planet Earth with the rest of us and see if he can develop speech naturally”.
That took a while to sink in. What are we doing again?!? I just did what they told me to do. Kinda half-heartedly at the start, until the penny dropped, then BOOM I got it. WHY we were doing the sensory diet made sense to me, and so I threw myself into it.