You Can't Always Get What You Want by Alysia

You Can't Always Get What You Want
by Alysia Butler of Try Defying Gravity

I have seen the promised land of therapy rooms.

I have visited these amazing basements equipped with swings, trampolines, a trapeze and quiet tent spaces.  Rooms filled with sensory balls and body socks and noise canceling headphones.  I have stood in the doorways of these spaces but have never crossed in. 

Because it's not my house.  Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's therapy room.

I'll admit it.  I'm envious of what they have. 

I want that.  How different our lives could be if we only had...all that.

This popped into my head at our most recent IEP meeting for my 4 year old son Howie.  Every morning when he gets to preschool, his amazing aide takes him immediately to the school's OT room.  Each day they assess what he needs at that moment.  Maybe it's time in the swing.  Maybe it's the trampoline.  Or maybe it's just quiet time doing a puzzle.  After 10 or 15 minutes in the room, he has built up his sensory inputs enough to be able to make it through the morning routine.  And if needed, he takes more sensory breaks during the day.

While this works for him now, the time that he's in the OT room takes away from his time in his preschool inclusion classroom, and he misses some of the daily routine.  The conversation around the IEP meeting table turned to kindergarten, where this type of "before school OT time" might not be as possible.

My husband spoke up.  "What if we did some of the sensory input work at home before he goes to school?  Would that get him ready for the day?"  The teachers were all in agreement that this was a wonderful idea.

It sent me into a panic.  How on earth could we do any of that at home?  With my two other sons around?  And with what equipment?  And where?

As I spiraled into "No, we can't" land, my husband decided "Yes, we can."

Can you say role reversal?  I think you can.

My husband took it upon himself to spend a morning with my son and his aide to watch their routine in the OT room.  He observed the teacher as she walked Howie across a balance beam.  He took notes while Howie lifted coffee cans filled with beans over his head 10 times before he jumped on the trampoline.

And he came home with a plan.

On the mornings when my husband is home, he takes fifteen minutes to do "exercises" with my son after my older son gets on the bus.  First, they lift three pound weights together over their heads.  Next, they do "X-Jumps" together:  My son jumps in the air and makes his body into an "X" while my husband holds him up there.

Then, they do "Heavy Howie".  My son stands on a bathroom scale as my husband gently pushes down on his shoulders, giving him deep pressure input.  My son giggles in delight as my husband shouts out the numbers on the scale as they get higher and higher.

Finally, my husband holds the scale up against the wall, and Howie pushes as hard, working his muscles and getting him ready for the day.

And then he drives him to preschool.

The results so far have been pretty good.  On most of the days when he does his exercises at home, he doesn't need all the heavy work and sensory inputs at school to start his day.

Here I was thinking we had nothing in the house that could help him.  My husband took the things that we already had, and turned them into our own personal therapy equipment.

Sigh.  Can I share something with you?

While I am so grateful that we've found something , the problem is my son will only do these exercises with my husband.  While he goes to me for everything else, this is theirs alone.  On the days when my husband can't be home in the morning, Howie gets nothing before school.  Nothing.  I know I help my son in so many other ways. And I know I am so lucky to have a partner who understands what his kid needs and wants to help.

But now I stand in the doorway in my own house, looking in as my son and husband have their time together. I am envious of this new relationship they have.  They took the "Yes, I can!" attitude and turned it into a special activity that gets immediate results.  And I...I still flounder in the "No, we can't". 

Envy.  No wonder it's one of the seven deadly sins.  I want what they have.

I'm sure in time my son will let me participate too.  But until then, I'll have to remember that he's getting what he needs from his dad - the other most important person in his life.  And that is the most important goal of all.

"You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need
" - You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones


Smart Mommy said...

That is really awesome. Your husband came up with good activities, and maybe your son would do different things with you. The things he does with dad are just for he and dad, but maybe you can come up with some activities that are just you and your son for the days that dad isn't there. Maybe you could have some little heavy work jobs that need doing before school, like putting some cans away, putting a bag of rice up on the counter, etc.

Anonymous said...

Your husband ROCKS! (Sorry, Alysia. Don't have much sympathy to offer - just praise for personalizing and problem-solving for your son.) He might not need this excellent portion of a sensory diet forever. Great transition plan that might open the door to kindergarten for Howie.

Dana said...

I've always had a soft spot for your vegan libertarian husband! This is amazing that he created things for your son to do at home. I imagine in time your son will do it with you too. Give it time and enjoy the break and don't be too hard on yourself for feeling envious. You've been taking charge and holding this for so long.
I also like smart mommy's idea of having your son "help" you with jobs on the mornings that your husband can't be there.

Anonymous said...

I'm with everyone else, your husband rocks. We live the flip side of this, both kids want to do everything with me. Even when they too had their own sensory play, it has dwindled down to nothing these days. Great reminder to get that going again for them.

mommy~dearest said...

I love the X jump pic! Lookit that smile!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Dear Alysia... how I have thought the very same thing... on so many occasions...

We love the hubbys that DO step it up and get their hands dirty once in a while... but it still boils down to territorial instincts.

We can't recreate each other's roles exactly (I have tried for an entire year at a time to be "Dadda" during a deployment), but you CAN look around and find something even better ;0) Consider it a thrown-down to OT your son in an even "cooler" way than Dad can!
love ya, Mama... thanks so much for sharing what I feel so often...

sylviafuerst said...

A terrific post. thanks.

jazzygal said...

Excellent stuff! Everyone should have one of these rooms in their house! We needed quiet space for the tantrums so I got a lava lamp, used pillows and heavy duvets, played sleepy music in my WiiBoy's darkened bedroom for years. It worked great.

School can ALWAYS find a "quiet place" TO BRING A CHILD LIKE hOWIE, OR wIIbOY IF THEY'RE HAVING A ROUGH DAY ;-) (Sorry caps on again!)

Don't forget, everyday school "jobs" can be used as therapy too! Our children can be given the "heavy jobs" like lifting down/putting up everyone's chair or their work baskets. Cleaning off the black/whiteboard is another example. Carrying heavy watering can to water any plants they have... there are tons of opportunities ;-)

Can't wait to see the photos of YOUR therapy room!

xx Jazzy

Caitlin Wray said...

Love this Alysia! With Simon heading back to 'regular' school in the fall and me going back to work full time and leaving very early in the morning, I'm going to steal some of these for MY husband to do with Simon before they head off each day ;)

Sunday said...

I know all too well how you feel. Both of my boys had time in the school's OT room prior to their day beginning when they were in their preschool but when the trasitioned to Kindergarten the new school didn't have an OT room.
This summer I plan to take them to the playground in our neighborhood every morning and run their little butts off and jump up and down with them on the mulch and swing and slide.
I just hope they want to do those things with me.

Patty O. said...

Oh, Alysia, this is so FANTASTIC, but I know what you mean. On the one hand, it is sooooo great that your husband took the time and initiative to come up with a solution, one that is viable and works, but I can see your point too. I've gone through this at times with Danny. There was a time when Danny would only do his therapy with Bil, but eventually that changed. At one point, he went in the opposite direction and would only let me do them. Now, he's more flexible and a bit more willing to work with whoever is available.

It's so hard, isn't it? The envy?

Stimey said...

What great ideas for sensory work. I know it's tough when your child will do things with or for others that he won't do for you, but how great that the two of them get to bond.

Linds said...

Those are some amazing ideas! My hubby always dreamed of having a "man cave" when we buy a bigger house, but when our son was diagnosed a sensory seeker, what was to be a "man cave" will now be a sensory room. And these ideas will really get us started!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone!!
First of all, @dana, you made me fall off my chair laughing.
Secondly, you're all giving my husband a huge ego boost. I'd say stop, but he does deserve it.

Finally, thank you all for the incredibly encouraging comments. I thought I was alone feel like this, but you've all shown me once again that I'm not. I will definitely take the advice on how to have him help me around here. I know some laundry that could use some pushing around!!

Thank you!!

Courtney said...

A friend of mine keeps two big jugs of water at her house. When her son needs input, she asks him to carry them to specific places in the house. My monkeys would love for me to recreate Dad's activities, but I don't have the strength for those X-jumps and such.

Our second favorite sensory-gym-at-home item is our mini trampoline with a handle. We got it for $45 (including shipping) on ebay and it has earned its keep! It died after 3 years and we just bought a new one. Not only do my monkeys jump on it, they also hang from the bar (right side up and upside down) and crawl under it.

Our first favorite sensory-gym-at-home is ... jumping on (and off) the bed and rolling up like a burrito inside the blankets. Here again, though, Daddy can lift up and spin around a burrito-rolled kid, while I am lucky to get the kid up and then back down onto the bed without dropping them.

Martianne said...

How awesome that your husband stepped up to bat like that and that your son and him have something just for themselves.

I wonder if you could create a similar, but different routine that could be just for you and your son when you are together without your husband. Sometimes, with my own son, I have to do things myself and, then, he warms up and wants to do them with me. Other times, I can build things up as "something special for just you and Mama." Worth a try??? every kid is different.

Mom2Kaia said...

We have some of the same at home with our daughter -- Kaia does her situps on his lap while he holds her hands and rocks on a rocking chair. Hard to imagine, I know -- but she loves it.

She does ask me to so the rocker with her, but I can't do it like daddy -- so she usually waits for him. This is NOT bad thing. It gives them special time together and gives me a much-needed break from having a small person climbing all over me.

I do more fine motor with Kaia (which daddy tends to avoid) so we have a nice share and share alike.

Just remember that you ARE doing great things for Howie all the time. You and the hubs make a great team and that will make all the difference for your kids!

Anonymous said...

It's great your hubby is sharing in the home therapy. I welcome any help as it's too much for me to handle especially emotionally. We put a mini exercise tramp in the house and got it for $10 from kiijji. And put rings on a house beam from ikea. These things helped my 5 yr old self regulate. You can also try stickids which is a great program. Remember that any thing you do will make your days better and your Childs.

Lizbeth said...

I love how your husband has special time with your son. Like you, there are certain things my son will ONLY do with hubs. At first I was jealous and a little offended but now I just let them be and take it for what it is--a little free time for me!

Anonymous said...

Your husband sounds like a keeper. Ehat terrific ideas. I hear you about wanting that they have. After all the hard work I had done with my ASD guy on speech and OT activities,it was my husband who actually got him to say his first word. I am glad they have their own relationship, but I'm also glad I'm still the one he comes to when he needs to talk something through. We each have our part to play.

Heather said...

If it makes you feel any better, we have the coveted therapy basement and we still have to be this creative! My son needs it switched up a lot so we have to continue to think outside the basement box. Usually the mid-end of winter is the worst. He's over the basement but can't yet go outside. I LOVE the scale idea! We're gonna have to try that one :)

Megan said...

Wow! Sometimes we need to just count the blessings we do have! I love my husband and he listens to me, but he never does any of the work with our daughter. Your story brought tears to my eyes! What a blessing to have help and to have one part of the day that you don't have to run! I research and do all the therapy for my 5 year old. My husband praises the change in her and he is a great daddy, but there is never a planned routine of activities that he does. We have a therapy box of our sensory diet and we do something every 2 hours when we are home. I have to say watch your husband and son with enjoyment!

Jessica said...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! We have been facing a similar challenge, and these several ideas are wonderful! I, too, am faced with the, "When I am gonna fit this into the morning schedule of 3 kids?" question, but these ideas are great. And I am right there with you as far as your feelings go. Thanks for your honesty! I'm so glad I found your blog on pinterest!!!