Seeking answers to seeking behavior

by Melissa
(Austin, Tx)

My son is now 4 1/2 and as a pediatric physical therapist I was aware that he had some proprioceptive issues from early on. As an infant he ferociously sucked on his gobi (pacifier), he slammed his burp cloth against his body or head, and he would only fall asleep with rocking.

As a toddler, every toy became a drum and he was in constant motion. At the time we laughed about it while allowing him to give himself the input he wanted/needed. I let him suck his pacifier until he was 2 1/2 years old, against the advice of his dentist, I allowed him to hit toys as hard as possible when appropriate, I let him jump off things and climb higher than most parents let their toddlers based on my knowledge of sensory seeking behavior.

During his early preschool years, while attending only 2 days per week, we occasionally got reports from his teachers of hitting the other children or pushing them down. He even had to go to the "principal's" office once for being rough with another child. We began incorporating a more systematic behavioral program at home along with the sensory input we were trying to give him. We still laughed a bit about his activity level because at the time he wasn't really hurting himself or anyone else.

Now he is in a more structured preschool program and he is bigger and stronger. He has hit other children and pushed them down on several occasions. Rightfully so, his teacher is concerned as are we. Major intervention was needed at this point.

For years, my best friend, who is a working pediatric occupational therapist and mom of 3, has given me advice on activities and input to provide for Daniel at home. Recently we realized that Daniel now requires the help of a pediatric occupational therapist who can provide him with more intense one on one therapy. His OT has given us a specific sensory diet for our home and has given his preschool teacher activities for him during class time. This has helped tremendously, as well as the fact that he has just come out of an intense growth spurt. We often see a magnification of his sensory and behavior issues during growth spurts and this time was probably the most intense.

Daniel has always sought out vestibular and proprioceptive input and we have always sought out help with appropriate ways to give it to him. The answers to our little 4 1/2 year old puzzle are becoming more clear now and we are breathing a little easier. We may have several more years of seeking answers for his seeking behavior but with OT and prayer we are on the right path.

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