We had a breakthrough here a few days ago: The Boy has learned how to spit water into the sink! On a therapy scale of one to ten, this is easily an eight, considering he has never actually spit before (he's 4 1/2). One of the facets of The Boy's SPD is extreme oral hyposensitivity. Basically, he has very decreased oral sensation, making it difficult for him to do tasks such as spitting, licking ice cream or lollipops, blowing bubbles or whistles, and licking his own lips. He tends to cram all of his food into his mouth at once, because he can't feel when his mouth is full and he has little to no gag reflex. He also constantly chews things - straws, paper, erasers, strings, Polly Pocket shoes, legos - you name it, he chews it. I have even caught him chewing on batteries; I am always worried about him choking or hurting himself. He has a lot of saliva, and he usually has trouble drinking out of a cup without a straw because he can't feel the liquid on his lips. Couple that with his lack of modulation in determining how far to tip the cup in order to get a drink, and you've got a nice mess on your hands. Which in turn leads to crying because his shirt is wet and he can't stand the feel of wet clothes. Talk about your vicious cycle.
We've been using the Wilbarger's Protocol for oral/facial stimulation with him, and it seems to be working for him. Wilbarger's Protocol is also known as "brushing," and it looks like it sounds: we brush The Boy's mouth. We use a little sponge and rub firmly on his lips, tongue, hard palate, and inside the cheeks. This helps "wake-up" his mouth so that, in time, he will not feel the need to shove things into his mouth. He may always be a pen-cap chewer or a nail biter, and that's fine, but I'd like to cut the batteries out of his diet, thankyouverymuch.
He has been working so hard in therapy, that I am in danger of having my heart burst with love while I watch him struggle and master things we take for granted. I cannot tell you who was more elated when he began spitting because we were both so busy cheering and high-fiving each other.
When I am with The Boy, I am constantly reminded of the little things, the baby steps, the unnoticed myriad motions our bodies perform without ever being consciously told. I firmly believe that my children are mine for a reason; God made them specifically for me. I often ponder the gift each child has brought me, and when I think of The Boy, I am reminded to be present, be patient, be mindful, be grateful, because not everything comes with our bidding.