Saturday, March 7, 2009

Garrett's Story Part 3 (Sensory Perception)

Garrett was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder when he was one year old. See Garrett's Story Part 1 and Garrett's Story Part 2 for background). He is a sensory seeker, which means that he needs more stimulation in certain senses to feel "normal." This causes him to engage in behaviors that I haven't noticed in other children.

Sense of Touch

He has always craved more sensation in his sense of touch, even when he was a baby. I remember when he was an infant, maybe 6 months old or so, if anyone was holding him he would feel around the top of your hand until he felt a vein or tendon. He would then push that tendon back and forth as hard as he could so that he could feel it moving under his finger. It could get quite painful because he would sometimes dig his fingernail into the tendon to get more sensation. Believe me, his fingernails got a regular clipping at that age. As he got older and got more coordination in his hands, he "graduated" to pinching a piece of skin from the back of my hand with his thumb and middle finger and scratching it with his index finger. He would often scratch an area raw and it would leave a scab. He would then look for a scab to pinch and scratch open. The backs of my hands would be covered in little scabs, some not healing for a month or so because he would scratch the scab off. Both of these behaviors were most common when he was tired or stressed. The pinching and digging in my hand seemed to relax him. There seemed to be nothing I could do to stop him. Moving my hands out of the way or covering them would only make him mad, and he would go to any lengths to get at my skin. He hasn't done this in several months now and I hope he's grown out of it, but I've learned from some of his other unusual behaviors that, just when it looks like he's outgrown a behavior, it comes back with a vengeance. I'm not really sure why.

I have learned through his OT and books to give Garrett extra sensory stimulation for his hands. We play with play dough, shaving cream (see previous post), sand, water, and whether I like it or not, food.

Gagging Himself

From the time Garrett was able to get his fingers down his throat, maybe at 10 or 11 months, he has stimulated his gag reflex, sometimes to the point of throwing up. I remember Erin went through a phase like this when she was 8 or 9 months old, but once she caused herself to throw up one time, she decided this game wasn't fun or pleasant, and quit doing it. Garrett, on the other hand, got some kind of enjoyment or sense of satisfaction out of this and continues to gag himself even now. He used to gag himself more when he was hungry, thirsty, or craving a pacifier, but sometimes the gagging seemed completely random. And it never failed when we were getting ready to go somewhere, everybody was bathed and smelling good, Garrett would gag himself and get vomit all down his shirt, and smell like puke. Then I'd have to change his clothes and give him a sponge bath to get the smell off. Now, he seems to be able to get a gagging sensation by just pushing the back of his tongue toward the back of his throat, but he still puts his fingers down his throat occasionally, although he hasn't caused himself to throw up in a long time. This is one behavior I can't wait to go away completely.

I don't like creating posts without pictures, so I've just chosen a couple random pictures of Garrett from when he was a baby. I don't have any pictures of him gagging himself or picking the scabs on my hands. Sorry. Both of these pictures were taken around Christmas 2005 when Garrett was about 3 months old.

I just love this picture of Garrett and Daddy asleep together. They look like two peas in a pod.

1 comment:

Vera said...

I just want to say (1) you are a super duper awesome mommy I can tell, and (2) that last picture is THE BEST!! ♥