Learning and Behavior Challenges Detective Work

Parents; Sensory Challenge Detective

Carefully determine developmental milestones profile. (birth to 20 months, and 2 to 5 years) These milestones should be documented and taken seriously. Falling behind in any area by more than six months should be addressed with appropriate explicit support. If falling behind to the point of reaching warning signs (Sensory, Social & Emotional, Cognitive-Thinking, Gross Motor, Fine Motor), contact your doctor. Giftedness can be observed in the first three years by rapid progression through the developmental milestones in at least one area, but can be asynchronous in their development overall. Gifted areas should be supported but not pushed, let the child pace their growth in those areas.

Find qualified local support.

Insure your pediatrician has ties to a developmental/pediatric neurologist with a strong learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD practice that understands the interaction of the immune system and sensory/nervous system. These are medical not mental problems.

Find a qualified sensory OT or PT. Therapists should be able to produce a certificate or other documentation of at least 30 hours of advanced post-graduate training in specialized course in sensory integration, theory, evaluation and treatment.

Find out what services your school system offers.

Learn your rights and schools obligations. The book, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition by Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright, is an excellent resource.

Determine your child's current immune system status through child and family medical history and clinical lab tests. Your immune system is supposed to protect you from the bad stuff in the environment and negate and clear any bad stuff that has made it inside your body. If the environment provides more insults than the body can handle, the toxins build up in our bodies and do damage, leading to chronic widespread inflammation. Just like you are not yourself when you are hungry, you are super agitated and sensitive with chronic widespread inflammation. Insults to our immune systems occur over a lifetime. Try to minimize them as your lifestyle allows or immune sensitivities require.

Reduce environmental insults.

Build up the immune system.

Look for a Parent Implemented therapy training program. They have been found to be the most effective for ADHD and ASD kids birth to age 9 years. The key is the parent knows and interacts with their children the most. Parents learn skills, and then model these skills in a joyful manner with their children. Parents scaffold the development of these skills as the child learns. Parents continue modeling, but gradually remove scaffolding as child learns. The skills are extended in complexity and integrated into daily life.

Determine sensory and motor profile. Find a sensory OT or PT that help define an at home program aligned to your child’s sensory, motor, social, and executive function needs. Then periodic OT/PT "evals" to see if the program needs to be changed.

Start to understand your child’s behavior in your child’s sensory context. Understanding the medical issues behind learning disabilities and behavior issues is the biggest first step. Once you clarify the reason for puzzling and disturbing behaviors, you can then translate the behaviors into a neutral and manageable context. This is essential. Learning to read your child’s cues allows you develop reciprocal and positive interactions with them.

Learn about positive discipline. Strongly advocate usage in your home and school. Select child care that has staff trained and utilizes positive discipline.

Join or build a sharing care network.

If your child has a LD label, carefully craft your child’s IEP goals for the most effective support available in your school. Insist on teachers and aides with Positive Discipline training, and track their implementation with your child. 25% of all teachers including all SPED teachers are required to have completed Positive Discipline training by 2014. So your school should have some. Include teacher and staff training in your child’s challenge area. Include adjustments to your child’s class/school environment to limit sensory stressors, and the right to make use of sensory retreat.