This is part 2 of a series I'm writing about our SPD journey. You can read part 1 here.
In June of 2011, Taylor moved from her pre-K class at the preschool she'd been attending for 3 yrs, into the preschool's kindergarten class. While this class was just across the hall from her pre-K class, in many ways, it was a whole different world. First, her 2 best friends that she'd been with for the last 3 yrs were no longer at her school. They took the summer off and then moved into another kindergarten program. In the pre-k class, the students spent a fair amount of time standing at tables while doing their "academic" work. There was a lot of time for free play and art projects. Kids were also allowed to have a doll or stuffed animal to sleep with at nap-time.
In the kindergarten classroom, students sit in chairs at desks that are in groups of 4 to do their academic work. Their work time is generally 3 hrs long, with a short recess in the middle. There are 15 students in her class (remember, she's in a private kinder program). After lunch, the students have naptime for 2hrs and then snack, then recess and then free play time.
The transition to kindergarten was challenging for a few reasons:
1) Taylor was expected to sit, confined to a chair, for longer amounts of time
2) There was less opportunity for messy art projects (gluing, painting, etc)
3) She was no longer able to sleep with her beloved Sally at naptime, because the kinder class has a "no dolls" rule.
4) She was expected to focus on academics for a longer period of time.
5) She had to adjust to a new teacher's style and a new classroom routine.
To make matters worse, the transition occurred in the Summer in the desert. Summer temps where we live regularly get well over 100* which obviously limits outdoor playtime, which limits Taylor's ability to get the vestibular and proprioceptive input that she needs. In other words, she wasn't able to run, climb and swing outside every day. The vestibular sense is related to movement. Taylor is a sensory seeker, so she needs to move much more than other kids. Proprioception is related to body awareness and input to one's muscles and joints. So, deep touch, pushing, lifting and climbing are examples of activities that give Taylor the proprioceptive input she needs.
So, when Taylor would come home at the end of the day from kindergarten, she would literally be bouncing off the walls. She would be running, climbing on furniture, doing flips off the chairs in the living room, kicking me, pushing me (oh, how happy I am that she's ditched that behavior!), pinching me, mouthing any object she could get her hands on, talking and yelling and singing excessively. It was exhausting just watching her!
Fortunately, I have an amazing friend who has a son with Autism. One evening in September, this friend came over to hang out and observed many of the behaviors that were driving me batty. We began talking about strategies to help manage Taylor's sensory issues. I read The Out of Sync Child again. I read The Out of Sync Child Has Fun, again. And, most importantly, I put things in place at home to help Taylor get the sensory input she desperately needs to help her manage her behaviors.
While I've done a LOT of research on SPD, I'm still feeling very overwhelmed and confused about how to best implement strategies and sensory activities with Taylor. Occupational therapy is the recommended treatment for SPD. Unfortunately, we've hit some roadblocks in trying to access occupational therapy for Taylor. In my next post, I'll share the challenges we're experiencing, how we're navigating this bumpy road, what we're doing in the meantime to help Taylor.