I decided to reissue this blog post regarding sensory processing disorder because I've been able to upload longer videos (2 minutes) to this blog now through YouTube. It depicts what I described in my post below. Sometimes video is just better so I thought I'd share it with you again.- Jenn 6.26.09
6.09.09 Now that summer is here, it brings on a new set of sensory challenges. One of the challenges that really breaks my heart is the water sprinkler. It could be raging hot and Spencer will almost never go near it. Meanwhile, I see kids younger than him getting wet, pouring water all over themselves and having so much fun. I know I shouldn't think like this but I can't stop being a bit envious.
Even though Spencer can sit in a bathtub and be inside a pool, he can not deal with sprinklers or showers. Albert Dungca, our occupational therapist told us to keep trying to expose him to sprinklers. He even told me to try getting him under the shower first. I made a face that said, "Please don't make me do that to him!" I knew he'd act like I was torturing him.
Today, we didn't have ABA therapy and it was raining so we couldn't go out. To alleviate the boredom, I took him into the tub and ran the water in a light flow, easy for filling up buckets. I didn't put the drain stopper to try to simulate how it would be in a park.
At first, he was a little lost and had trouble filling up his watering can but after a while, I could see that he was enjoying himself. Then I thought of Albert's advice and put on my Therapy Mom hat and turned on the shower in a light-sprinkle. He screamed of course but we kept going at it. Surprisingly, for a few minutes, he actually tried to fill a cup with the shower water and pour it into a bucket. I was really stunned.
When my kid squirms, screams, and cries, my instinct is to take him away from whatever that is bothering him. However, by gently pushing him, he started to tolerate it a little more. Wow. I wish I knew that when Logan was little. When he was just 3 years old, there was an instance where a boy sprayed his face with water (for fun) and Logan freaked and in an instant pushed the boy away. Unfortunately, they were in a jungle gym and the boy fell 6 feet to the floor. Luckily he was okay but it just goes to show you how SPD can really prevent kids from making friends.
So here's my recipe for Overcoming Water Spray Defensiveness. It is derived from Spencer's OT's advice and my experience with Logan. Hope you find a point or two useful:
1. Even in the shower, put plain clothes on him so that he learns it's okay to be wet in his clothes. Spencer is only used to being naked or wearing a swimsuit when it comes to water play.
2. Make sure he is in a good mood by doing what he likes first. I let Spencer play a little his way before I turned the shower on.
3. Be task-oriented: I made him first fill up the cup under a running faucet and then we did the same thing with the shower. Shoving him under the shower with nothing to do would have probably sent him running.
4. If he wants a towel for his face, I say, "Later," and delay as much as possible.
5. If he freaks out about having wet clothes, remove them VERY slowly and keep saying it's okay to be wet when taking them off so he can get used to having wet clothes on. (Logan used to streak the park whenever his clothes got wet and I didn't get him a change of clothes fast enough. At one point when he was younger, he wouldn't even wear wet Crocs unless I dried them with a towel. That really stressed me out.)
6. Take turns splashing each others faces in the bath, increase the amount of water as he tolerates it better.
7. After you have some success with the shower, bring the same toys from home to the sprinkler. It will help him generalize and feel more comfortable.
8. Take it easy the first time, when you got him to do what you want, end it on a good note. And keep doing it on a consistent basis.
I used a similar method with getting him into the sandbox and it's working well. If you have a tip, I'd love to hear it. I really want him to get under the sprinkler this summer.
Please note the first eight comments were in response to the post when there was no video.