OT and Sensory Processing: Positive outcomes for a preschooler

How did you start your journey with OT?

My daughter had a speech and language delay, so she attended Solon Preschool on an IEP when she was 3 years old. When she first got to Solon Preschool, they did an OT evaluation and said she had sensory seeking behavior & fine motor delays. I had no idea what that meant. The OT at the preschool said that she would benefit from OT services, so they included that in her IEP. At this point, I was terrified; my daughter had a language delay which I had been taking her to speech services since she was 18 months old and now this. I immediately called Galvin Therapy and started her in OT with Karen. I remember going to my OT sessions with Karen, always bringing a notebook & scribbling down all the notes I could take, scared I would miss a thing. I remember constantly researching things on the internet, buying different OT items, reading blogs, joining FB groups and reading books. There would be words like Sensory Diet, Proprioceptive and Brushing Technique that I had never heard before and this was all very frightening. As the weeks and then months and then years went on I became extremely well versed in all of this lingo & my anxiety began to decrease. The love, patience and support that Karen gave my daughter and I from day 1 was in describable and for that I will always have a special place in my heart for her. I truly thank her from the bottom of my heart.

How has OT helped my child?

I could never write in 1 paragraph how OT has helped my daughter, because there are just too many ways, so I will highlight some of the major ones. Firstly, my daughter learned how to have emotional regulation, especially to loud sounds & costumed characters. She had extreme fears & anxiety of loud sounds & costumed characters. I’ll never forget the many manycostumed parades Karen, my daughter and I would have around the Galvin office in order to give her gradual exposure to costumes in a controlled safe setting. I went to costume stores and rent different costumes and we would start with putting on the hand, then the foot and then hand, etc etc., until she was wearing the entire costume. There was truly nothing Karen wouldn’t do to help my daughter. In addition, Karen worked with my daughter on her fine motor skills, handwriting, tying her shoes, riding her bike, trying new foods, using the potty, taking turns in a game, control her body when she is very hyper and overly excited, holding a pencil properly and buttoning. The list goes on and I only named a few compared to all the things that Karen taught my daughter in the time we spent with her. 

What message would you like to share with other families considering OT?

My message to you is if you are even considering it, then do it because early intervention is key. By my daughter being able to learn all these essential developmental skills, she was not only able to successfully graduate from her IEP she is currently surpassing many of her same age students academically, something I thought would never happen. Karen was not only able to teach her skills that complemented what she was learning in school, she was also teaching me parenting skills & techniques that I could use at home with her, such as having a sensory diet. I remember Karen even came to our house one day to help me set up my basement to make it more conducive to do OT activities there.

What are some interventions that you used in OT that were useful to you?

Oh wow! So many!!! One of the extremely useful techniques that Karen taught me about is using a visual schedule. This helped my child know what is coming next & she didn’t have to ask me all the time. This was extremely helpful for reducing anxiety & with transitioning. The other intervention that was huge for my daughter was making personalized social stories to use with things that were difficult for her. Karen and I made so many social stories together. We made social stories about starting preschool, having mad feeling, trying new foods, sleeping in her own bed & many more. These social stories were unbelievably helpful for my daughter for helping to reduce her worries, coping with her emotions and helped with emotional regulation.

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