A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Therapist Spotlight: Jessica

Jessica has been doing Occupational Therapy with Little Bird for three years now. That's a mighty long time. Her specialty is sensory integration. When she started with us, she'd spin the bird around and around and around and then watch her eyes to determine how well she handled movement and whether she was able to "feel" the movement. When you feel the movement of spinning like that, you get dizzy and your eyes shift rapidly (nystagmus). The OT will test the way someone handles movement by checking for a post-rotational nystagmus (PRN). They literally count the amount of seconds that it takes for a person's eyes to return to normal. The bird took 0 seconds. She was registering NO movement even when spun around like that.

Jessica got her to a place where she was able to register the movement, but then she began seeking it out by  spinning in circles and arm flapping, and crashing into things, jumping from the coffee table to the couch, etc. This sensory seeking behavior continues to this day.


Jessica got Little Bird started on a therapeutic listening program with music where the frequencies are modulated in order to hit, awaken, stimulate or calm different parts of the inner ear. We began a strict sensory diet of music and platform swing spinning and within a few months, the bird stopped spinning in circles. Little Bird has worked hard on her tone with Jess, too. It's always a workout and the bird is always tired after a session with Jessica.

A typical session begins in the purple swing, which my bird asks for the minute we walk in the door.
The Jessica sets up an obstacle course to work on balance, strength, and the feeling of where her body is in space (she has no idea).  Then they might do some tactile work like play with shaving cream, sit in the rice pool, or even jump in the ball pit. They spend some time working on fine motor skills too: stringing beads, pinching clothes pins, or handwriting (this should be called scribbling). A couple years ago, we were just working on keeping the crayons OUT of the bird's mouth, so the scribbling is an improvement.


All in all, Jessica's major role with us is sensory integration. She's always been very confident in Little Bird's abilities and her potential. Sometimes I'll call her and say, "I need you to tell me all good things so I can come down off this ledge." And she does. She really really really loves the bird. Like, her desk is covered in pics of the bird. And the bird loves her, too. The only trouble is that LB wants to play and have fun more than she want's to work; and she knows that Jess loves her so she really puts on the charm sometimes and tries to get out of working with that, "but I'm so cute and you love me" look. Sometimes it works. Little Bird is NO fool.

11 comments:

Penny said...

Have you read, "The Fabric of Autism," by Judith Bluestone? It taught me new ideas about all things sensory...

sherri said...

This is so interesting to read, what an amazing field this type of therapy is. And it sounds like it is doing your little bird lots of good. that last picture is priceless.

Heather said...

Jessica sounds great! It's so great when the professionals really love our children, isn't it?

Brian's first full sentence that I know I'll hear at least once a week is "I want swing"- the first thing he says when he walks into the OT room.

Lynn said...

Awww so cute. I love a therapist who loves our kids. You will no doubt be completely unsurprised to find out that I am familiar with all that you've described including the therapeutic listening program. See what all the normie moms are missing?

Mel ~ said...

Oh My, what a wonderful joy you have in Little Bird! I love your blog! I'm visiting from the Spring Chicks :)

Cheryl D. said...

LB is so adorable! It's so wonderful to find wonderful therapists!

jillsmo said...

I was blown away when I learned about dizziness and the eye moving thing. Horray for awesome OTs!!!

heather yalin said...

Three amazing women all in one beautiful post!

sugar magnolia said...

Sounds like you have an amazing OT! It always helps when our therapists are good. So far we've had good luck, but I've heard stories from others who weren't as lucky. Hope your dd continues to blossom!

Sunday said...

I ADORE these pictures of your little girl during therapy sessions...she reminds me so much of my little Noah and how he soaks in that sensory attention like a little sponge.

spectrummymummy said...

I'm just working my way through some of your older posts. Sounds like Pudding and bird have a lot in common. Pudding really loved her first OT, but she was an out-of-network provider, and we couldn't afford to keep seeing her. She just doesn't have the same rapport with her current one. I often wonder how things would have gone had we been able to stay with her.

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