One Step Forward….
C has been in occupational therapy since he was 9 months old, for both fine motor (hand) skills and sensory issues. Lately, however, I’ve been hearing rumblings that perhaps he doesn’t need OT anymore. Why, then, has he just learned to tie his shoes, and why did it take 9 months to teach him? Why does he struggle so to button and zip his pants? As it turns out, motor planning issues (getting messages from the brain to the places they need to go) have likely taken over from fine motor skills in terms of causing C trouble. The fine motor issues are still a bit behind, but he’s finally closing the gap. We’ve been waiting for this. He’s always made progress, but he just never caught up. He’s close now, very close.
Yet the biggest issue remains. Why does he seem so challenged by handwriting? He is capable of writing neatly, nicely, but he mostly doesn’t. He forms some of his letters strangely, which has resulted in handwriting that just has not improved. Enter a group of highly specialized occupational therapists who deal only with handwriting issues. Partway through the evaluation, the OT had checked the “mastered” box on many of the tasks C was required to perform, with only a few “improvement needed” scattered throughout. Was I crazy? Was his handwriting fine?
No, not even close. First, the joint in his thumb is very loose and floppy, which we’ve known for years. His thumb doesn’t have the strength and stability to help him write well. What we didn’t know is that something could be done for it. A bright blue thumb splint is on it’s way to our house in the mail. Second, he actually forms over half his letters incorrectly. He is writing half his letters from the top, half from the bottom, which is very difficult to do. It’s a perfect explanation for why, when he tries hard and takes his time, he can write fairly well. When he speeds up, however, it deteriorates. The answer? A week long handwriting camp, which actually seems quite fun, that will retrain him to write letters correctly.
Third, and perhaps the most troubling, relates to his vision. There is something going on with his eyes. It’s not the usual eye issues that a regular old eye doc handles. This requires a special kind of optometrist, one who specializes in developmental eye issues. C will likely need vision therapy, a series of appointments that will retrain his eyes to work properly together, which they are probably not doing at the moment.
Here we are again; about to embark on yet another therapy. We’ll drop one to make room for another, always leaving time for C to just be a kid. As I read up on vision therapy, I am astounded how little I knew before and once again find myself wishing I had known about this sooner. Yet, like everything else, this therapy is probably falling into C’s life when he needs it most, when it has the chance of helping him the most.