Could OT Actually Be Making My Son Worse???

by Jan
(NYC Suburbs)

I have recently noted an odd behavior pattern in my 3 year old son who has mild SPD. He had a expressive language/speech delay that is barely detectable any more. About a month ago - his OT began testing the Listening Program with him. Following one of these sessions - he regressed significantly. The regression included problems with getting to the potty on time, a high frustration level,temper tantrums (which we had NEVER seen before),and a level of distraction that was beyond compare for him. He couldn't even sit still for dinner - and the kid loves food. This has caused problems at his non-special ed. preschool.

I contacted the OT who said that Listening Program was the cause - and they would stop it. The OT claims that this behavior was temporary - but much of it remains. They say that he is just concentrating on his language skills and therefore regressing elsewhere. Truth be told, he has made a lot of progress in this area, but he had been steadily progressing in that area without the regression in other areas.

My question is could the Listening Program cause these longer term issues? And, now I note that after every OT session (without the Listening Program) some of these issues become more obvious - especially the potty issues (He was fully trained before this!). My gut is telling me something is wrong here. I hope you will be able to advise me.

Thank you,

The SPD Help Line Answers...


Thank you for writing. I understand your concern! I was concerned also when I saw adverse reactions when my boy began Listening Therapy through Vital Links. Yes, it is my understanding and experience that our children can have significant adverse reactions to a Listening Therapy Program, and your OT is correct in saying this should pass.

Some kids can work through it in a matter of days, while continuing the program. The reason being, that the electronic signals sent through the vestibular canal to the cortex of the brain stimulates areas in the brain, which is a good thing, therapeutically. However, we may see over- or under sensitivities as this occurs. Usually, a patient is advised to stick it out, if possible. Sometimes, the reactions are too severe and it is better to discontinue either the program, or that particular CD.

Yes, normally the adverse behaviors are temporary. In our case, we needed to add calming sensory input and increase proprioceptive input to counter the adverse reactions. And within a period of a few days all these intense reactions discontinued. In your case? And with a program I am familiar with but have not done with my own child? I would do three things: spend a couple days really working his sensory diet, including both calming and proprioceptive activities and see if these activities bring about more organization in his sensory systems. Report any continued adverse responses to your OT. And then possibly contact the Listening Program company and ask to speak with a specialist.

In the normal course of Sensory Integrative OT, it is not at all unusual to see the kids move neurologically from one end of the sensory sensitivity to the other, and with continued therapy, finally level out close to normal.

One thing I do believe, is that you CAN work through this, using a sensory diet geared to the specific issues your child is experiencing. You may need the help of your OT to know specifically which activities may best help your son right now. I do have every confidence you can bring your child out the other side.

Good Luck and let us know if you can, what helps your son the most with this issue.

Michelle Morris
Administrator, SPD International

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