Occupational therapy gives new hope to local boy

Occupational therapy gives new hope to local boy

Behavioral issues in children are very common, many parents struggle with finding a way to help their kids cope.

"My child didn't nap, because he couldn't fall asleep... He didn't really have any behavioral issues, it was mostly just bedtime wars," said Rebekah Gillespie, mom of a local boy.

It's a struggle that she faced. and she believes many other parents are going through the same thing.

"When things got quiet, you knew he was doing something he shouldn't be doing or dangerous," Gillespie said.

Gillespie said her son John Micah is an adventurous boy. He was two when his sister was born and that's when his temperament changed.

"He started having aggressive behavior and adjustment disorder... any time another kid is the first born and then a sibling is born after you know there's usually some sort of adjustment issues and then this was amplified due to his sister's special needs so we sought help from our pediatrician and he refereed us to occupational therapy." 

John Micah was diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder and began seeing his Occupational Therapist, Alison chapa

"Sometimes before starting medication the doctors will have us try occupational therapy to see if we can teach body coping skills," said Alison Chapa, John Micah's Pediatric Occupational Therapist. 

"We learned here that John Micah is a sensory seeker and so what that means is he needs more sensory input and stimulation than the average child," Gillespie said.

It's clear occupational therapy is working.

"To come in from I'm not going to do what you say and throwing things to um I'm going to sit criss-cross, I'm going to get on the swing, follow the directions, grab the different colors of fruit to going over to the table and learning scissors and we're working on hand writing and to be able to touch different textures, that was a big thing for John Micah." 

Chapa said while an OT activity may just look like a fun craft, there's a big purpose behind it.

"That's learning to touch different things... and once we get our hands used to touching that we're sending that new input up to the brain and we're able to process that paint is not gross... but we're able to explore our environment through our touch," Chapa said. 

Aside from occupational therapy Gillespie said most kids with sensory processing disorders are dependent on a fixed routine.

"We are consistent with giving him ques, like hey in ten minutes it's going to be bedtime... he needs a set routine to know what to expect, so if something changes from his bedtime routine like hey we're not going to be able to read three stories tonight, we're only going to be able to read one. We have to give him enough time to process that, otherwise we will have a huge meltdown because he expects that routine and that consistency," Gillespie said. 

If your kid is having trouble sitting still...

"Kids that can't pay attention, they just need a five to ten minute break to kind of reset button... brain gym is a good resource... and these are just little things that kids can do, they can roll their ears and that helps with focus," Chapa said. 

Gillespie's advice for other parents having similar issues with their kids...

"I would say reach out. Reach out to your pediatrician, reach out to the school district, because they have resources and the school district can test them and do things through occupational therapy as well," Gillespie said.

For more information on Covenant's Occupational Therapy programs click here.

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