Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Therapy Secrets: Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique

Looking dapper!

 I have added new treatment regimens to Baba's daily schedule.  Honestly, I didn't want to and I resisted it for quite some time.  However, I have seen immediate improvement, which is wonderful and awful.  I feel guilty for not doing it sooner.  Sigh.  Anyway, I thought I'd share them with you.

We started the Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique.  It is a Sensory Integration technique that I have used for years in my practice.  We use a special brush (looks like the brush surgeons use to prep for surgery) to brush a child's back and limbs.  Then we gently push various joints together (joint compressions). 

Click here for link location.

My son suffers from mild tactile defensiveness and some sensory modulation difficulties.  I have noticed an increase in tactile (touch) defensiveness since our move, resulting in less solid food consumption.  This isn't unusual, as stress can increase sensory issues.  He was also getting more easily startled, scratching around his diaper, tugging at his clothes, pulling off his sun hat, and generally appeared uncomfortable.

Does it work?
It's only been a few days and there is dramatic improvement.  He seems more comfortable, he isn't tugging on his diaper as much, he is able to tolerate tooth brushing and face washing, he kept his sun hat on, and does not seem as easily startled. 

Is it easy?
Yes, it's easy to learn.  No, it's not easy to brush a very mobile toddler, every 2 hours.  At least I can rest when he's sleeping!

Who should do it?
Any child who experiences sensory modulation problems could potentially benefit from such a program. Seriously, I used it on almost 90% of my caseload.  It really seemed to help children modulate their senses, calming their mind and body, so they could concentrate on the rest of the therapy session.  Children with Autism, cerebral palsy, or any illness that causes movement issues are also likely to suffer at least a mild sensory processing issue, so they would benefit from this technique too.  

Who can do it?
Anyone can be trained to do this technique.  In fact, it has to be implemented by parents, babysitters, nannies, teachers, aides, or any person who will be watching your child for more than 2 hours. 

It is very important to be trained, for improper technique can actually make things worse.  But it's worth the effort. 

How long do I have to do it? 
It's usually for at least 2 weeks of intense treatment (brushing every 2 hours when awake) and than as needed for high need periods, or a regimen recommended by your therapist.  It can be helpful for children who really respond to deep touch.

I hope you found this helpful.  For more information and training ask your occupational therapist for details.  NOTE:  Not all OT's are trained in this technique, though many are.  Ask your therapist if they have been trained.  If they don't have the training, ask if they can refer you to someone with the training to help you.

Can you show me how to do it online?
It's really not a good idea to get this training by video.  It's really important to know how hard to push, how to set up your child for the technique, how to get over any resistance, and what pattern of movement to follow.  It's also important for a trained therapist to give you a sensory diet...which is part of this program.  They can only do that, if they know your child and is able to prescribe the appropriate program.

Here are some links for more information.

For general information on the technique:

More detailed information on why we use this technique despite lack of research:

If you want very detailed information:

Have a great day!


Update and precautions:
Baba is having a flare of of eczema so we have to stop the treatment until the flare up goes away.  It's usually not a big problem for mild skin issues, but it's not a good idea to brush on any part of the skin with an open soar.  If it's a small area and you can avoid brushing it, then it's probably okay to continue the program.  However, it's best to ask your occupational therapist for recommendations. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

15 months after a baby stroke and other updates

It's been a long time since I've blogged and I'm sorry for the absence.  I've been so crazy busy with moving.  Baba is a trooper taking in the changes without too much trouble.  He seems to grow more cognitively than physically now and I'm always amazed at how much he seems to know or understand.  Yeah.  I'm being THAT MOM...the one who thinks her kid is brilliant.  I'm just so happy to see the progress he's making and it does seem amazing to me.  Not that long ago, I wasn't sure he would be able to understand my words...so everything above that seems genius.  He loves his letters and numbers!  He studies them everyday...on his own volition.  Only this week, he started to be interested in words.  Isn't that backwards?  I don't know, but I'm letting him lead the way.  Who cares if it's backwards?

We are still breast feeding at 15 months.  In the beginning, I wasn't sure if I'd last 3 months, but now I am determined to let him wean at his own pace.  All these changes are hard on the little guy, so it helps to have a safe place to land.  If we had stopped breastfeeding, we would have had to turn to formula because he is still not eating much solid food.  I think it's a combination of difficulty managing the food in his mouth and sensitivity to touch.  He seems more sensitive to touch in his mouth.  Brushing his teeth is quite a production.  It gives me a little relief that I am still able to breastfeed.  I have a feeling that he would reject bottles and formula at this point...though he had supplemental feelings as a newborn.

It also gives me time to figure out how to present the food in a more tantalizing way.  In a way that would make it easier to eat.  It also gives me time to figure out what therapy techniques to add to the regimen.  I've always found dysphasia and feeding therapy daunting.  I also need to find a specialist, who can give me specifics about babies, since it's not my area of expertise. 

Trouble eating, translates to trouble forming sounds, which of course affects speech.  So Baba isn't talking yet.  He can say "mama", and I've heard him repeat a few sounds like "a".  But he doesn't consistently "speak".  He does, however, communicate using gestures and sounds.  He also seems to understand simple language, though it's hard to say how much. 

My main concern has to do with his hearing.  I know he can hear me, but he doesn't seem to be able to locate the direction of the sound.  When calls out for me and I answer him from behind, he doesn't turn towards me.  He keeps looking for me in front and if I don't touch him, he starts freaking out because he can't find me. 

I would ask the pediatrician, but we don't have one yet.  We are in the process of finding one, a not so easy task.  Sigh...

My mother is fighting cancer like a warrior, but it isn't easy.  My brother has really stepped up to the plate and is caring for her with supreme kindness and love.  It makes being far away seem less awful.  My mom understands why I chose to move.  She knows I did it for my son, to give him a better life.  Still, it's hard for her.  It's hard for us.

I've been struggling with the "art of blogging".  I started this blog to share our story.  I wanted to help other parents going through similar circumstances and hopefully be a source of helpful information.  I still do.  Yet they're is so much going on and so little time to spend writing.  I also struggle with how much to share about my personal life.  I tend to be a private person in the public venue, though I tend to be quite open with my circle of friends. 

As far as reading other blogs, I personally gravitate toward the ones who write positive messages.  It's comforting and fun to read.  Yet I wonder, are their lives really this magical or are they simply writing to encourage, not to share sordid details of their lives.  Where do I fit in this "blog world"?

I guess I don't know where this blog is going.  I feel like my mission is unclear and that makes writing more difficult.  I feel lost and I'm not sure when I'll find myself again.  I'm going to be 40 in a month.  Is this just a midlife crisis?  I hope that I will figure things out soon.  I have so much to share.  Things will calm down after we move to our permanent home in 3 weeks and we finally settle down.  We moved 3000 miles to the New England coast.  It's really beautiful and really hot! 

I hope you are having fun and staying cool! 

p.s.  a photo story

The future sometimes seems ominous.
Sometimes we have to be willing to take a step in a new direction.
Sometimes we have to learn something new.
Sometimes it feels like the obstacles are insurmountable.
New starts can be a little scary.
But if we keep smiling, we may just be able to succeed.