October is Sensory Processing Awareness month. Some of the less spoken challenges with sensory processing disorder and Autism are motor skills. Referred to by medical professionals as”motor planning”. We discovered our son had motor planning issues at 10 months old. This was the beginning of our journey with SPD and Autism.
Many parents don’t realize the correlation to sense and muscles. I personally thought my chubby son was just a late bloomer but as he grew realized it was something more.
My son is nearly 5 and still can’t sit up for long periods of time straight, ride a bike, skateboard, balance or walk straight without bouncing, jumping. Many of this related to sensory and motor issues. He has come so far in some cases but others he’s still learning how to regulate the lack of muscle endurance with slouching, jumping, wiggling. To sum this all up…He’s worn out because his body doesn’t have the stamina to sustain long term muscle coordination or stability. You wouldn’t know if you met him but coupled with other things this can result in a meltdown of no other.
Some early signs based on our experiences were as follows:
- lack of sitting up
- lack of rolling over
- lack of crawling
- tongue sticking out
- lack of babbling
- lack of crawling
- lack of pulling up
- minimal walking stability
- lack of pulling up from their back or side
- appears very clumsy overall including falling and walking into things
- a sense they don’t see what’s in front of them
- constant slouching, sideways sitting, laying down or leaning
- can’t sit long
- crankiness occurs due to endurance of muscles
- use of arms vs. fingers and wrists
- decreased skills in holding, drawing and writing
For us, being aware of the signs and continuing pushing our son to improve has been key for his development. He has had occupational therapy for years now focused on physical and occupational training. Some of his activities start with core physical activities like, swinging, balancing, jumping, holding and scooting on the floor with tools. Some are table time activities he has to physically sit and hold his arms, hands and fingers straight with special wrist tools and adjusters. We and his OT self correct him to focus and sit straight while doing these skills to strengthen his tummy and back muscles. His progress has been amazing. He can now do these activities for 15 minutes at a time (still tired though).
At home we use techniques like just plain old rest. Then when he’s ready we do lots of park and playtime outside. When I’m out at the store I allow him to push the cart even as much as a disaster as it is. It gets a full workout for his body and he has to focus very hard on not running people and things over (at which he always does LOL). Just like any normal 4 year old but I find myself more focused on challenging him in a fun way.
The takeaway I’d like to share is observing your child closely for signs. If you think they have a problem there are some core things you can do with them at home I recommended. You don’t need an OT just observation and perseverance.
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