So you don’t have an Occupational therapist

Pah that’s nothing new here. We have always had a hard time getting any services for my son and certainly not any covered by insurance. My son suffers from a  sensory processing disorder and sensory integration therapy is almost never covered by insurance. Schools don’t want to do it either because it’s not considered an “educational problem” and it’s also expensive and time-consuming even though sensory symptoms do impeded everyday life and learning.

For example 30 rounds ago my son had a terrible tactile sensitivity to paper. He’s had it since he was about 7 years old  that I know of. But he has always been tactile defensive and had a sensory issue. This applies to toilet paper, paper towels, napkins and cardboard. We won’t even get into the years he ran around the house naked because he could not stand the feel of clothing. Or how he could not wipe himself until we found flushable wet wipes. Yet despite speaking with his doctors about our concerns, no one knew anything about sensory integration therapy in our area. I was told there used to be a therapist on the other side of town who has since re-located some years ago and no one knew of anyone else.  Seriously? With the autism rate what it is you can honestly tell me none of our kids are getting any therapy for this?  I actually wouldn’t be surprised.

In my disgust and determination to help my son I learned all I could about sensory dysfunction and the therapies that help this. They mentioned expensive therapy sessions in a sensory gym. We did not have a sensory gym anywhere that I could find, and I wasn’t seeing an 8 hour drive one way worth the trek so my son could bounce and jump around.


Trampoline (Photo credit: guinness_duck)

Our insurance would not touch an occupational therapist for this. And my son’s motor delays fell under the school’s jurisdiction.  School claimed he didn’t need the therapy. They still claim this today.

I took some cues from my son and others from websites like this: Sensory Processing Disorder

This helped me figure out what my son needed. Was he hypersensitive? A movement seeker or avoider? Did he need pressure on his joints?

Since we didn’t really have money (still don’t) I became rather inventive at creating a sensory gym at home. With this my son could be on a “sensory diet” ever day and regulate his needs himself. We purchases or made the following:

  • mini trampoline (re-bounder) from the sporting goods store for about $30
  • a large mesh laundry sack from anywhere for about $6
  • a swing in the yard or put it up in the basement from the I-beam
  • a skateboard for sitting on and rolling around
  • a balance beam and board-we got instructions from a book and made these ourselves with wood and painted them
  • play dough or theraputty, squishy balls, clothes pins, rice, beads etc for hands to feel and squish
  • small fidget toys like transformers
  • silly putty and beads. (hide the beads in the putty and let them pick it out
  • a backpack that you can put some books in for that weight they crave
  • an inflatable exercise ball, for bouncing on or rolling over them
  • if you want to designate a room for this you can purchase foam floor mats (beware they out-gas so hose them off outside and leave them in the sun for a while)
  • You can also purchase hammock swings to hang inside the house
  • a very heavy quilt for wrapping in
  • some cushions for smooshing
  • Office chair with a high back and arm rests for spinning
  • ride on toys that can be used indoors

The ideas go on and on but you can make your own sensory stuff for your child to use at home. My son used to love us rolling him with the exercise ball or smashing him under the couch cushions. Sometimes he wanted to get inside the laundry sack because it gave him pressure all over his body. Other times he wanted to spin in the chair or squish the putty. Mostly he preferred to jump a lot. He would either hop on his ball all around the house or he would jump on the trampoline. We actually went through a few of these as he wore them out. As he has gotten older his sensory needs have decrease. Sometimes he still enjoys a good smooshing and will ask us to “smash him” in pillows. Or he will try to wrap himself in his blankets tight. Now that’s he 10 years old he has learned what activities calm him and make him feel best.

And it didn’t cost us a second mortgage.

*always supervise your child with these items to be sure they are safe and do not get stuck, fall off etc.


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