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Is this sensory seeking?

(10 Posts)
KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sat 13-Jul-13 11:46:34

DS2 (7) has some 'issues' and is on SA+ getting SALT and OT interventions that are having minimal impact on IEP targets. His IEP was recently reviewed. His teachers' main concerns relate to what they term inattention/distraction. They have requested SALT and OT input in addition to testing of sight, hearing, absence seizures. They are now pursuing ADHD and DS2 has an appointment with a specialist nurse in a couple of weeks. However, I may not know what 'normal' looks like but I don't believe he has ADHD/ADD.

DS2 can appear not to be paying attention because he is not making eye contact, or even facing a person speaking and is constantly fiddling or doing something else but he can repeat back what you have said. DH was reading Harry Potter to him recently and thought he was not listening but was doodling - it turned out that he was writing a list of the adjectives in the text. He is hyposensitive - high tolerance to pain, doesn't notice when face messy etc.

The 'progress' recorded for the objective to improve concentration and attention says "DS2 has recently become very tactile towards other children, often poking, stroking, touching their hair and face during whole class teaching. Regular reminding not to do this with very specific language seems to have little effect. Eventually, DS2 is moved to another place on the carpet to avoid this distraction.

On a good day, DS2 can sit and listen for approximately 5 minutes (short-term target of 10 mins) and contribute during this time.

There are days however, when despite employing all strategies effectively, DS2 is still distracted, making noises despite regular requests not to do so, playing with nearby equipment and generally avoiding the activity set. However, when asked to complete a task for a few minutes during playtime, DS2 will often complete the task very quickly with no support"

I have an indi SALT going into the school on Monday. SLCN have previously been identified but the school, LA EP, comm paed all seem to want to ignore the issue of whether or not this is secondary to ASD (he has a sibling on the spectrum).

What do you think? Is this inattention or sensory seeking? Can this sort of behaviour be explained by any other conditions than ASD? DS2's issues can have multiple causes but I can't see how SLCN, ADD or high cognitive ability can explain this particular manifestation or other teacher identified issues with nonverbal communication.

TIA

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sat 13-Jul-13 11:50:55

I am concerned that the school tactic of minimising distractions is actually minimising sensory input and thus leading to increased sensory seeking. What tactics are used by teachers if it is recognised that the child is sensory seeking?

PolterGoose Sat 13-Jul-13 12:02:59

It does sound sensory to me, but sensory is my 'thing' and we've had lots of input from our OT team. Ds did the Alert programme recently and it was truly fascinating to see the impact of different activities on both his concentration levels and mood. Ds will appear as if he is completely ignoring me and dp or a teacher but he isn't, to a degree the more distracted he looks the more he is concentrating if that makes sense. Ds's Senco made a passing comment to me that she had noticed that children who she would previously have seen assessed as having ADHD were now being dx with Sensory Processing Disorder. Anecdotal of course, but interesting.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sat 13-Jul-13 12:55:12

Polter - how would you respond if this were sensory?

DS2 has review with OT soon. I have completed a sensory profile but it might be worth the teacher completing one.

PolterGoose Sat 13-Jul-13 13:19:08

It's tricky because every child is different. I know what works for ds but that may not work for others. Stuff that often works is sitting on a Move'n'Sit cushion, for ds sitting on a gym/therapy ball makes a marked difference in his concentration, fiddle toys and also squishy things like blu-tac or theraputty, weighted blanket/shoulder or lap pad, eating really helps ds calm down, some children on Alert found blowing through a straw calming, and having access to a sucky water bottle can help. Removing any minor irritants on clothes, careful seating in class so eg not affected by bright lights or sun or draughts. Making sure he has space to move and wriggle without touching other children, ds always lines up at front of line, always sits on an end at assembly, has his seat in class in a nook of sorts so he's not next to another child.

TBH I had absolutely no idea about sensory stuff until we saw an OT over a year into the assessment process. 3 years or so earlier an early years Senco that nursery had called in had suggested sensory problems and advised me to read The Out of Sync Child but I couldn't see it at all, now it makes total sense.

There's a good bit in the book The Asperger Children's Toolkit that's based on Alert which is all about children learning how to manage their own sensory problems.

BeeMom Sat 13-Jul-13 13:48:38

That sounds exceptionally sensory to me - particularly with the urges to reach out and touch other students... DS was like that.

What REALLY helped for us was actually very simple, and DS carried it with him everywhere. I made a "fidget". It is a ribbon, about 20-25 cm long, with a clip on one end (to clip it to a belt loop) and a number of beads, knobby balls, squishy things etc on it that DS can manipulate, touch, stroke etc which occupies the sensory seeking part of his brain enough that he can then attend to the task at hand.

He tucked it into his pocket in his trousers when he wasn't using it, and pulled it out when he needed it - it gave the control for regulation back to him and actually helped him to recognise what he needed from an input perspective...

I would be happy to make one for your ds - if you'd like, please drop me a PM... and that goes for anyone who would like one. I'll be honest, now... both of the DCs like making them - and when we make them for other DCs, they get a real charge out of it grin It is good for fine motor practice, too...

AgnesDiPesto Sat 13-Jul-13 14:51:05

Ds has asd, few sensory issues but is very easily distracted. We have h

AgnesDiPesto Sat 13-Jul-13 15:07:03

Ds has asd, few sensory issues but is very easily distracted. We have have gone the opposite ABA way and given him clear rules about how to sit eg hands still, where to look etc. worked on this in steps and built up with him being rewarded (via a token board) for not gazing, fidgeting etc. I always feel like an ogre when I say how tough we are on him but he is not distressed by not fidgeting etc and he finds clear rules comforting as he knows what's expected. He learns loads more. We did a lot of role play in 1:1 of how to sit at school etc with ABA tutor pretending to be teacher and holding up book and giving tokens for him concentrating. He does get regular breaks though so the expectation is he is on task for work time earns his tokens then gets a reward eg free choice of activity away from group. I can't comment on sensory as I think this is minor for ds as although he does lots of stims which seem sensory these seem to be for fun rather than because overwhelmed. He is very passive and chilled. We started with 10 seconds being on task and built up he can now do 15-20 mins if something motivating. We change the time and frequency of rewards depending on how hard he is finding it. I think all you can do is try different ways and see what works better eg by measuring if learning rate improves. Ds learns nothing when he is allowed to fidget with toys but I can see that might help other children. It's figuring out if its sensory or behavioural.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 14-Jul-13 09:44:42

Sorry I couldn't reply yesterday - DS2 has developed a major Minecraft addiction and has taken over my PC.

Polter - DS2 has had a move'n'sit cushion allegedly on order for the last 6 months on the recommendation of the OT (he also has issues with fine motor control, especially writing, hypermobility, proprioceptive difficulties).

Bee - that is very generous - I will PM you.

Agnes - when I had a meeting with the senco and the LA EP recently, I suggested using rewards and was immediately talked over by the EP stating that they did not want to use ASD techniques as she believes that they are not necessary, that he just needs to 'take responsibility' (I've heard that one before). When it comes to fiddling and moving the teachers are reluctant to give him a cushion or a fiddle toy because they think this will distract him more and make matters worse and be used as a greater distraction to other children.

I like Bee's idea of the discreet fiddle toy because it is something that I can do immediately without needing the permission/consent of teachers. To get the staff to use ABA techniques I would need a diagnosis and a statement that I would have to go to tribunal (again) for.

Do I need to do this? I am clear that I should apply for SA (hence the indi SALT) but not sure about the provision that I want. With DS1 it was 'easier' as he was older and could not cope with m/s secondary. atm I want DS2 to stay in m/s but I want to make sure that this is not at the expense of meeting his needs. His KS1 sats scores were average but he is of high cognitive potential (98th/99.3rd percentile verbal/non-verbal).

It seems that if I am not requesting TA 1:1 (this has proven to be ineffective as he will quite happily ignore the 1:1) then the issue would be to increase the SALT intervention. He would need over 2 hours a week with a therapist 1:1 to be over £6k.

What provision is 'commonly' given to improve concentration and attention or reduce distractibility?

Agnes - I will read your backstory but it may take me some time (War and Peace would be faster smile) but would you mind telling me what you have on your statement (and what it took to get it)?

AgnesDiPesto Sun 14-Jul-13 22:50:38

PM me an email and I'll send you a statement
We had to go to tribunal but DS was still at nursery then, we've had ABA ever since he's been in school
He had to fail in nursery for 18 months with SLT, outreach etc before we won ABA at tribunal (we did ABA at home and 'outclassed' the professionals in terms of progress, not hard they achieved nothing)

To be honest we would work on all these things in 1:1 before we took it into class so for eg still sitting / staying on task we would practise in 1:1 with token board / easy task. We would not expect him to sit well and listen in class if he could not first do it in 1:1
It may be something you could do at home and video to show improvement with on task behaviour by use of rewards

If they think a fiddle toy will annoy the other children they would hate our reward system as DS gets loads of breaks / rewards the other children do not get!

Perhaps you could try at home / in breaktime to make this gradually more like class time? eg we set ds up with play activity and deliberately try and distract him eg playing music, moving around etc to see if he can keep going / stay on task (usually takes 2 one to make the noise and one to be poised to put tokens on every few seconds)- we are gradually blurring the therapy / 1:1 to class boundary for him. Its not easy to generalise the skill to class (mainly because NT children are so noisy / unpredictable). We also worked on it in steps e.g. the sitting, then the noises, then the looking in the right direction, then answering questions and now we keep him on task by getting the teacher to fire questions at him when he's drifting (to start with these were not related to the activity so not hard eg we gave her a basket of toys and got her to hold one up every so often and say DS what is this? what colour is this etc, kept it really easy and frequent so he started to tune in to her. But it was all done very systematically. We also sit him right near teacher. To start with his 1:1 was right next to him giving points, but gradually inched away and now teacher tells ds to put his own points on and 1:1 sits quite far away.

You can't go from zero to hero - think if it as a hierarchy so size of group (1:1, 'noisy distracting' 1:1, small group, large group); one behaviour at a time (noises, fidgeting, position, hands still (or fiddle toy), looking right place); support next to him and gradually fading back; start with easy work and build up to staying on task more difficult work etc etc.

Does he have any 1:1? If its ASD it is completely normal to be easy distracted and thats what most children in mainstream use 1:1 for - to stay on task.

Also this has years! There is not a quick fix. Rewards have been key for DS

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