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|The Impossible Child - Page 11|
Jack was 5 years old when a family friend who was the director of an OT training program told Terre about sensory integrative dysfunction. She had Jack evaluated and immediately started him in therapy with Rebecca. For the first time since her son was born, Terre felt hopeful.
Fortunately for both Jack and Evan, their teacher, Susan, was interested in learning about sensory integration. She read everything that I downloaded off the Internet about school-based interventions for SI kids. She created work spaces away from the noise and activity of the busy, open classroom. She allowed us to set up an old refrigerator box as a sensory shelter, which we decorated and called the "chill zone." She consulted with Rebecca whenever their opposition to a task puzzled her. Most important, she maintained her composure in the face of their sensitivities.
Within a few months, Evan stopped hating school. He started to recognize his own weaknesses, which made it easier for him to calm himself when he got upset, rather than exploding or disintegrating into a crying heap. When the din of the classroom became too intense and he started to get jumpy and loud, he asked for permission to go into the refrigerator box for a break. As his sensory processing became more efficient, he was able to focus on learning and enjoy its natural rewards.
"I'm so busy doing work at school that I don't have to try to be a good boy," I heard him tell his grandmother one afternoon.
His body was now working for him rather than against him, and he gradually developed the ability to ignore little discomforts. Because he was less sensitive to touch, getting dressed was no longer a painful chore. One morning, with wonder in his voice, he told me, "Mom, when I put on my underpants, they were too tight. But by the time I got downstairs, they were just the right size." Habituation--the brain's automatic modulation of sensory awareness--is no small miracle, when you think about it.