Therapy is a tricky thing. It’s hard to know which one(s) are really worth it. In the last two years, we’ve tried a lot of therapies. Here are two that have brought big results:
1. Therapeutic listening – Using specialized headphones, Helen listens to two half-hour sessions of music each day. Here’s why: whenever we hear any noise, our brain is signaled to respond. For most of us, this happens automatically and our response makes sense. We hear our neighbor turn on his lawn mower, understand what it is and move on.
For kids like Helen, there’s a disconnect somewhere. Before starting this therapy, if she heard the train whistle a mile from our house, she would cover her ears and scream in pain. Yet, I could stand right behind her and yell her name and she didn’t respond. She wore headphones anytime we left the house and often at home. We couldn’t use any appliances that made noise, either. No vacuum cleaners, blenders or hair dryers. She also lacked Auditory Processing (where you take in sound then translate what you just heard). If we were going to go outside, swing and then have a snack, I had to show her three pictures in order: one of us walking out the door, one of a swing, one of a snack. Otherwise, she had no idea what I was saying to her.
Now, two years into this therapy, she can tolerate most environmental noise (using noise blocking headphones only occasionally) and understands what I’m saying most of the time. Except for a few routines, we no longer need pictures in our ordinary day. We’re just finishing a break from this therapy and will start it back again this Fall.
2. Therapeutic Brushing – Using a special brush, you gently move it along your arms, back and legs. This is followed by joint compressions. We did this every two hours around the clock our first several months of therapy. Then we switched to 3-4 times a day, then just once a day. She began to tolerate affection and her sleeping improved. This summer, our OT recommended we try increasing our brushing to 4-5 times a day. It has been our recent miracle. Helen began showing and understanding appropriate emotion! She’s been affectionate to all of us. She’s even understanding more subtle social cues like jokes and her recent “thumbs up“. We’re continuing the 4-5 times a day (obviously) and hoping / praying/ crossing our fingers the results stick.
Here’s my disclaimer: These are powerful, highly individualized therapies that required us to be trained (and Helen evaluated) by a qualified OT. And there are no guarantees. Of course, you probably already know that.
Here’s my wish: I hope it works for you, too.