Back in the glorious and confusing days of my childhood, I went to see an occupational therapist once a week to help with my sensory integration/processing disorder. His name was Frank, and he was a young guy who was extremely good looking (and now I CURSE myself because I never appreciated his attractiveness). I was obviously too distracted by the fact that I was 9 years old and more interested in the candy I received at the end of the session. Here’s a picture of Frank:
Alright, so that’s not exactly him. It’s just a picture of a hot, shirtless guy I found on google, but let’s all pretend this is Frank.
Frank and I did LOTS of things in our short time together each week. He made me walk across a balance beam. This was to re-orient my vestibular system. I hated that. Frank would counter with some sort of ‘comforting statement’ like, “You’re only 2 inches off the ground.”
Not very comforting Frank. Your charm and wit didn’t amuse me.
Then he made me stick my hands in some glue and junk. We turned it green using dye, because why the heck not? It is very hard to describe to people who don’t have a sensory problem how it feels to do something that bothers your sensory problem, like sticking your hand in an icky substance. All I knew was that it was more than uncomfortable, and it created ugly signals in my brain. Therefore, I hated that too.
Sometimes he would suggest that I take a trip through the rainbow tunnel. You know the kind – a small, plastic tunnel that most children enjoying crawling through.
Not me though. My sensory system interpreted small, unfamiliar spaces as threatening:
Then we played a stupid game, Connect Four. (Though not as stupid as the game I wrote about in my last post, Operation). I hated this the most because the sounds of the game were sudden and unpleasant. “This game is the pits,” I casually mentioned to Frank.
Frank chuckled at my statement, rested his perfectly featured face upon his hand, and encouraged me to finish the game. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom that she was paying a man to watch me play games that I didn’t even like. UNBELIEVABLE!
At this point of my OT session, I was slightly irritated with Frank. His smiley-ness and optimism was all too much for one girl to take.
But it was not over yet. Before my OT session with Frank ended, he would spend the last several minutes doing joint compressions (pressing my joints in gently) and brushing. The brush looks like this:
It’s kind of FANTASTIC. (Although, those without sensory deep-pressure needs may find the brush against their skin to be unpleasant or just weird).
But who cares about those people, this brush is wonderful. After some deep pressure exercises, brushing, and joint compressions, I felt like a new girl. My hatred for Frank and his gorgeous smiling face seemed to vanish. Things got a little freaky:
Finally at the end of the session, I received my candy of choice and went on my merry way. This lasted for a few weeks or so, possibly longer, I don’t actually remember.
What I do remember is the absurdity of it all, and yet, my strange willingness to comply. I continued the compressions and brushing at home, but I don’t think that alone was enough to counteract the intense over-stimulation I was experiencing daily at school. Still, it was something, and definitely an experience I will never forget.