By an ELG Parent
Where to start? I guess near the beginning of our family’s learning journey together. Even prior to her starting her school life, we always knew our daughter was different but we didn’t have the knowledge or experience to quite understand how or what ways were best to support her. From her very needy, tight, sometimes suffocating hugs, the way she played ‘footsie’ under the table and had to seek physical contact, her intense responses to people, sounds and emotions, her satisfying joy at feeling the strong wind on her face, her lack of physical coordination, inability to sit still and her emotional frustrations at carrying out seemingly simple everyday tasks or following a simple set of instructions. Something was different about our quite articulate and clever child.We soon found out that these differences impacted her learning more than we certainly had anticipated. She struggled to listen, focus or sit still in class. She was always touching and intensely bothering others, she struggled to form letters on the page….she struggled both academically and socially.
We will remain ever grateful to her learning support teacher who had the experience of working with children with a sensory integration/processing dysfunction. Another new term, more confusion and yet again as a parent, more words I was struggling to understand. Until that is, not long after our daughter turned seven, we met Regina at The Essential Learning group, who was to become her sensory integration and physical therapist. I still remember that first meeting vividly. We attempted as a family to paint a picture of our child’s day to day functioning as she quite literally climbed and painted the walls of the therapy room. She could hardly sit still for half a minute or focus long enough to get through the initial assessment.
Three years have passed since then and it’s been a turbulent, sometimes difficult, often joyful learning journey for us all as a family. Our daughter has received Sensory Integration Therapy every week along with a ‘sensory diet’ at home. At first, she was more than a little resistant and reluctant to take part in her new routines but she must have soon realized the benefits she felt. The calming experiences during and after her sessions, her ability to find success in some tasks that she had thought were beyond her. It’s now quite hard to put into words how or exactly when her difficulties eased because it’s been such a gradual and evolving process. Today our daughter’s everyday functioning has changed and improved so much and in so many different areas of her life. It has felt at times like a slow process, the wondering, the wishing things would become easier for her but slowly, surely and miraculously they have.
Emotional regulation, physical coordination, writing, focus on academic tasks, physical boundaries, sensory seeking, following a routing set of instructions, self-organization, self-understanding and awareness have all improved and changed beyond recognition. Gradually and thankfully she is now experiencing more acceptance from her peers and more academic success. She’s finally proud to show her teachers her writing instead of wanting to hide it. The behavior issues she once so often experienced are fading into the past. Above all, and most importantly, her self-awareness, self-esteem and self-belief that she can succeed are here to stay!
By a very grateful parent.