25 Aug Blake’s Story
In the occupational therapy field, the most common question we receive is, “what is sensory?” Sensory processing disorder is defined as “a neurological disorder in which the sensory information that the individual perceives results in abnormal responses (www.SPDstar.org).” The reality is that sensory processing disorder, or SPD, looks different for every single person who has it. The common factor is their sensory aversions interfere with their ability to participate in functional and important daily activities.
About three months ago, Kara Marcum came to the occupational therapy team and notified us of her son Blake’s sensory aversion toward sand. Since the family lives in Tennessee, this aversion was not much of an issue in their day to day lives. However, family vacations to the beach were anything but relaxing. Kara explained that the previous year’s vacation was terrible due to Blake’s extreme aversion toward sand, and she requested for his occupational therapists to begin working on this aversion to ensure that future family vacations would be tolerable. The OT team eagerly jumped at the opportunity to help Blake and his family address this concern and be able to enjoy their vacation together. The OT team informed speech therapy of this specific aversion, and together the disciplines developed a plan of action and quickly began working with Blake. The road to success was long, curvy, and completely uphill. Blake’s sensory aversion was so extreme that whenever he touched sand it would provoke a physical response of gagging. A few tears were shed and a few lunches were almost lost, but progress was slowly being made. About two weeks before their vacation was scheduled to happen, Blake walked into the OT treatment room, and for the first time, he actually requested to play in the sand box! This brought about bouts of clapping and cheering from the OT staff and was a huge confirmation that the months of treatment had been successful. After the family returned from vacation, Kara sent the OT staff this statement, “I have so many pictures to show you of Blake playing in the sand! At the beginning of the week he was a little hesitant but still so much better than the total meltdown he had last year! But by the end of the week he was picking up the sand with his hands and throwing it at me! It was such an amazing transformation and I can’t thank you enough!” Success stories like Blake’s are what make our job so amazing and continue to push us to be the best therapists we can be!