Thursday, March 27, 2014

Our Journey with Sensory Processing Disorder

I have struggled with whether or not I should write about this on the good ole blog.  But have decided that it is important for 2 reasons.  The first, I want to give encouragement to parents who are walking through the Sensory Processing journey with their child. Or parents who might be so frustrated because they just can't figure out what makes their kids "tick", and might not know about Sensory Processing Disorder.  Of my six best friends from college, we have 15 kids between us.  Two of these 15 deal with symptoms of sensory processing disorder (3 deal with EXTREME food allergies and one was born with a rare birth defect... dont tell me that there is not something environmental or we are not ingesting something that is causing the rise in the these type of situations... another blog topic)  All of that to say, I think this is a more common problem than some believe.  Until I had a friend talk to me about the topic, I just felt like Craig and I were failing as parents.  Be encouraged.

The other reason- awareness.  Often times these kids can be misunderstood.  By people who dont have children, by parents who have children that are unaware that these situations happen, and in our case.. by preschool ministers.  :)  Like I said, until I had children.. I was an expert on parenting.  Everything that I said "my kids will never...", has definitely happened.

The truth is... Craig and I were in some ways "failing" as a parent to Jackson.  It wasn't our fault though.  Common discipline strategies that were using, were ineffective, because we did not understand truly what Jackson was going through.  Things that we thought were just "normal toddler behaviors.. that he would outgrow" were more deep than that.

Lets first define Sensory Processing Disorder- I will take this straight from the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation's website.

"Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as "sensory integration dysfunction") is a condition that exists when sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological "traffic jam" that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively."

"Sensory Processing Disorder can affect people in only one sense–for example, just touch or just sight or just movement–or in multiple senses. One person with SPD may over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food, or other sensory input to be unbearable. Another might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold. In children whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints is impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. These are the "floppy babies" who worry new parents and the kids who get called "klutz" and "spaz" on the playground. Still other children exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive. These kids often are misdiagnosed - and inappropriately medicated - for ADHD."

All kids with Sensory Processing Disorder do not deal with the same type of sensory issues.  Jackson and our friend, have some similar issues, but some are very very different.  For Jackson, we have noticed it in his hair cuts, nail cuts, brushing of his hair.  It has been shown in school during group time, and his fine motor skills.  Routine has been critical for Jackson. Things that we just didnt understand, when Jackson was a baby (head banging, potty training problems) all make sense now!  It has been absolutely AMAZING to me to learn more about this, and how it has affected Jackson.  

The good news is there are therapists who are trained in dealing with these issues.  It has been such an EXCITING journey, not only for Jackson, but for Craig and I, as his parents.  If you find a good therapist, which we have (if you live in the OKC area, and think your child could be dealing with some sensory issues.. please contact me, I would love to tell you about our therapy location), you will find a person who loves children, who shows extreme patience, and absolutely loves what they do.  They WANT to make life better for the child and the parent.  

Jackson has been going to therapy once a week for a couple of months.  He has continued to have break through days at therapy. They have been working on desensitizing his skin on his hands/head/etc.  But just this week, we had a MAJOR break through AT HOME. Craig had washed Jackson's hair on Saturday night, to get ready for church on Sunday morning.  Jackson came out to the living room, all squeaky clean, and I mentioned to him, we should go back to the bathroom and brush his hair (this normally equates a HUGE break down).. this time, he said "ok mommy" and ran back to the bathroom.  I got the brush, he stood still and let me brush his hair completely, without one ounce of fight.  IT WAS HUGE!!!!!  We celebrated.  I could tell he was so so proud!  Then just last night after his bath, he came out to me and said "ok mommy, its time to brush my hair.. lets go to the bathroom"  When we got back to the bathroom, he said "ok mommy, i want to brush my hair all by myself".  Again, we celebrated! Such a huge huge blessing.  

What seems like a small small thing.. is not a small thing at all for us.  Brushing his hair, truly was traumatizing to him.  And with the help of a professional, we are helping our five year old get passed some of these issues.  I do expect this journey to be just that, a journey.  Its not going to happen over night.  And thats ok.  It will ALL be worth it!  

So parents, if you are parenting a child, where things just dont seem "right".  Its probably not you.. its probably not your parenting.  Its not your child either.  God created every one of our children differently.  And he created every one of them PERFECTLY.  Some children (just like some of us as adults), just need alittle bit of creative parenting, where trained professionals are needed to help us discover the best for everyone involved.  

Truly, there is freedom for you and your child!!!  Surround yourself with people who will love and encourage you and your child.  Surround yourself with people who are willing to go on the journey with you.  Who will want to help see you and your child succeed.  If there are people who expect your child to be in a box, and expect you to treat your children like they should be in a box.. distance yourself from them and their organizations.  They will create unnecessary heart ache.  But most of all, be encouraged... parenting is HARD.  So hard.  But our kids are waaaaaay worth it.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jackson's 5th Birthday Burger Bash

We celebrated our big boy turning FIVE this past weekend!  Jackson has been on a hamburger kick lately.  And since we dont do parties with a bunch of friends, at this stage of his life, we decided to do a low key Burger Bash, where we just had our local family over for dinner.  It was the perfect amount of people.  And Jackson is totally comfortable with everyone that was over.  So it made it very nice.  The birthday boy was able to enjoy it fully without stressing.  That was our goal.

The decorations were pretty simple.  Lots of balloons.  :)  And my sweet friend, Alyssa, designed all the printed decor (banner, and food signs).  She is really good-- local friends, if you need great party supplies designed, I can get you her information!  She is working on an Etsy site, and as soon as she has it up and running, I will update it here!

We had a Build Your Own Burger Bar... thankfully our county does not have a burn ban currently, so Craig was able to grill yummy burgers outside.  And we had lots of yummy toppings.  We also had chips and the Pioneer Woman's Mac and Cheese served in little mason jars.

And for dessert, we had the cutest, and delicious cake that looked like a burger.  My friend, Melissa, recently started making cakes.  I sent her a text a while ago and asked her if she would be willing to make a cake that looked like a burger.  She was on board, and I could not have been more pleased with her work. It was PERFECT.  Jackson ADORED it.  (Local friends, again, I will be more than happy to share her information with you, when you need a super cute cake for your next event)

And then for party favors, my friend, Christy made these ADORABLE burger and fry cookies.  We found the fry bags on etsy and she packaged them together, so everyone could bring home a burger and fries.  Love it!!!!  You can find Christy at Sooner Sugar on Facebook. I highly recommend her. She is very creative, and a perfectionist.  All of her creations are beautiful!!

After we ate, Jackson opened presents.. he played and we all visited.  It was a perfect way to celebrate Jackson turning 5.

We are so thankful for Jackson!  He keeps us on our toes.  He is super sweet and loving.  He loves playing with trains and super heroes.  He loves to play outside.  His favorite times are when its just the four of us at home.  His favorite foods are hamburgers, mac and cheese, lettuce, ranch dressing, apples, cheese sandwiches and broccoli.  It is super fun to watch him learn new things every day.  And learn how to express himself in different ways.  He is definitely maturing and growing up!  We are so so thankful for him, and love him more than we could ever express!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Valentines Weekend

We had such a fun Valentines Weekend!  The kids had parties at school, on that Thursday.  That meant that they could not actually participate in the party, because we leave early on Thursdays for Jackson's therapy.  But they still brought fun treats for their friends!  And their sweet teachers made them a party plate, and after therapy, we picked up some pizza and they were able to go through all their fun goodies from their friends.
McKinley wore her Valentines outfit to school on Friday (actual Valentines) since she wasnt at the class party.  She is a big fan of outside time at school!

Then the kids had a slumber party with Honey and Papa.  It had been a while since they had spent quality time over there, so they were both very excited!  Jackson, has recently become obsessed with trains again. So he really loved playing with Honey and Papa's train tracks.

A slumber party at Honey and Papa's meant, Craig and I had a night at home ALL TO OURSELVES!  It was fantastic.  While I was waiting for him to get home, I just laid on the couch in total silence. It was divine. When he got home, we cooked dinner together.  We had picked up steak tips from the Meat House, so Craig prepared those. I made olive oil, lemon, garlic roasted cauliflower, garlic butter roasted mushroom, and a warm bacon spinach salad.  It was all super yummy.  We were so full, we did not even end up making dessert.  After, we watched some shows on Hulu, went to bed and slept late.  It was perfect!!!!

Saturday afternoon, my sister in law, Reese and I drove to Norman to do some shopping at the JBF sale and had dinner at Chuys.  I love spending time with her.  Ward picked a good one.  :)

Sunday, Craig preached at a local church.  Jackson was excited for church.  :)  It was a great morning of worship!  That afternoon, I did my cleaning etc, since I basically took Friday night and Saturday off!  :)

Monday, Jackson got sick at school.  BOO. I am SO SICK OF SICK SEASON!  So, I was only able to work half a day.  But we had a good afternoon at home.

Hopefully we are all on the mend (for a good long while), and will be ready to celebrate Jackson's FIFTH birthday this weekend!  CRAZY!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Phone Dump- Jackson Style

Jackson's update will be a tad shorter.  Simply because he does not like pictures (often).  So, most of the pictures I had of him on my phone was of him sleeping.  And he does ALOT more than just sleep.  :)

After our super fun holiday, Jackson and I both got the flu.  Well, we arent actually sure that it was the flu, we did not go to the doctor, but our bodies felt like death and we had this ridiculous yucky cough, so we treated it as the flu.  For our sweet boy, the tiredness just lingered.  He fell asleep a couple of times just randomly throughout the day at school.

The most exciting thing happened too! Jackson started going to occupational therapy once a week.  We got him evaluated for Sensory Processing Disorder..which it doesnt seem he has.  However, he does have some obvious sensory issues and is lacking in some fine motor skills.. so he still qualified for therapy.   We were SO HAPPY!  He has a great therapist.  Jackson seems to really like her. And he loves the gym that he gets to play in after therapy.  Ms. Jessica and Jackson are still getting to know each other, but I am excited to see how this helps!
Before our crazy winter weather decided to arrive, we had some beautiful temperatures in January.  Jackson exaggerated the season a tad, by insisting on wearing his bathing suits to play trains on the back patio.  Doesnt he just look like such a big boy here?!  He is back on a Thomas the Train kick.  He has a great imagination, and has lots of different scenarios for his trains.  I love it. 

We love our sweet ALMOST FIVE YEAR OLD!!  (Ummmm how do I have a 5 year old?!?!?!?!)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Phone Dump- McKinley Style

In effort to get caught up.... I am pretty sure I have started many of my last blogs like that... Im the worst.  I have gotten out of the habit of blogging, so it just doesnt get done.  Which is a horrible excuse.. considering this is what my kiddos will have to look back at, to reflect on their childhood.  :)

This update will focus on McKinley, and then (hopefully) later this week, I will get Jackson's done.

Now that Craig does not work weekends, it allows for McKinley and I to go "shopping" together on Saturday mornings.  She loves it, and feels so big.  So big, she often times prefers to be walking instead of riding.. which makes things a tad more difficult.
Jackson and McKinley were playing with stickers, and she came up to me to show me her "bandaid", she had placed it right over her omphalocele scar.  Sweet sweet girl.

Uncle Kurt and Aunt Amy gave her this fun toy for Christmas.  She loves it, although she doesn't totally understand the concepts, like steering completely.  :)  If something gets in her way, she believes if she just continues to hold down the accelerator, it will move for her.  This includes our brick house.
January 31st, was Omphalocele Awareness Day.  I have spoken on this blog so many times, how hearing the word "omphalocele"  for the first time 3 years ago, completely changed our lives.  Craig and I continue to pray that more research will be done.  And more awareness will be raised, so more babies diagnosed with omphaloceles will be given the opportunity to fight.
We have had several snow days recently.  This was one.  Because dont you like to stroll your baby in just your panties with snow on the ground?!
Last week, we had to take the front of McKinley's crib off.  So she has freedom.  With Jackson, we felt the need to make the transition to toddler bed, before McKinley was born... he also pushed that time line up, because he was constantly climbing out.  Well, I thought we were safe with McKinley.  She had not shown much interest in climbing out.  I figured we would keep her confined until we were ready to night time potty train her.  Well, of course, she had different plans.  She decided she would climb out, exit her room, look straight into Craig and I's eyes and proceed to walk to the big chair in our living room.. like saying "what are you going to do now".  We were hoping it was a one time event, but it wasnt.  So, we decided we would rather take the front of her crib off, than risk a broken bone.  She was MAD when we took off the front. But has adjusted well.
She had her ear appointment last week.  It went well.  Dr. Berryhill thinks it is time for us to seriously consider a bone conduction hearing device for her.  Basically, it is an "aide" that goes on a soft headband. The aide will rest behind her ear and basically help send sound waves to her brain.  (This is my non medical terms).  There is no surgery that has to take place. And the hope would be that it will improve her speech.  I think I would be able to make the headband cute, and I really think that she would like it just because she will be able to hear that much better.  We have to make an appointment for a consultation, and then see how much/ if at all insurance will pay.
Another picture without her shirt on... this girl is something else.  She is very particular about what she has on.. and alot of times it is not much.  But we do normally have on some type of accessories.  Its a wonder that she keeps her clothes on all day at school.

Friday night, Craig and I were going out with some of our friends, so we got the kids in pjs alittle early.  And McKinley felt the need to wear her winter hat.  She was very proud.
Ms. Christie sent these pictures yesterday. It represents how our children are so different while sleeping.  It also represents why we are scared to death to put McKinley in a big bed bed.  She is all over the place.

We sure love our McKinley Beth.  :)