Physical or Occupational Therapy?

So yesterday I took my 3 yr old (who has Sensory Processing Disorder) to a physical therapist because he was having trouble pushing and pulling, among other things. Turns out he needed a combination of both physical therapy for his overall strength and coordination, and occupational therapy for strengthening his hands.

It is funny how his sensory processing problem has caused issues with his gross motor development as well. He has trouble in the following areas:

* pushing and pulling
* opening drawers
* putting on shirts, shorts, socks, shoes (taking them off is slightly easier)
* opening jars or bottles
* balancing–falls often when running, can’t stand on one foot
* can’t jump
* goes down stairs backwards if there is not a good rail
* hates merry-go-rounds, large bouncy balls, bouncy castles, etc
* hates water
* stepping down from a ladder (even just one step)
* jumping down from a chair (even just a couple inches too high)
* climbing
* tearing paper (i.e. toilet paper, wrapping paper)
* kneading playdoh, squeezing, rolling it, pounding it
* hammer toys–can’t bang with any strength
* throwing a ball

On the other hand, his fine motor seems fine. He can string beads, do zippers, draw lines and circles, stack blocks, do mosaics, pick up tiny things one at a time, do tinkertoys and legos, push buttons, and roll or aim a ball to the correct spot.

It is almost like he is afraid of force… of any kind. I try to think of how I parented him that would make him afraid of forcefulness, and I can’t recall. I do remember that he was a very gentle and passive baby. He would fall asleep easily, even if he needed something, and for that reason he was a failure to thrive baby. He was so skinny at 6 and 9 months that I had to stop breastfeeding him and put him on formula and regular meals. Then he got really fat but his activity level never moved up. He was slow to sit alone (9months), crawl (10 months), and walk (16months). He didn’t run well until two and a half, and he still doesn’t jump or climb. He can’t maneuver his body when he needs to get in somewhere (the carseat, tub, or a piece of furniture), and sometimes when he falls, he just lies there whimpering instead of trying to get up.

I can’t figure out what makes him so passive. Did I not respond well enough when he was a baby, to his needs? Maybe I didn’t, although I certainly never ignored or neglected him. He was my second baby so I wasn’t a first-time mom, and I thought I recognized his hunger, diaper, and boredom cries quite well. I took him everywhere because he was an easy baby, and I do remember him loving the jolly jumper, where I kpt him when I was cooking or cleaning–I watched him jump and laugh at me for hours as an older baby.

But, passive he is. He still doesn’t initiate or ask for help very well, at least not with people other than Mom. He defends his own turf and will yell “NOOOO” or something if someone invades his space, so I am not worried that he will go off with strangers or get taken advantage of. But he does get dominated and controlled easily because most kids know what they want and have an active approach to life. This little guy lets go too easily and settles for crying about it in his own private space. He clearly isn’t happy that someone got there first, faster, better than him; but he doesn’t feel able to confront the situation and make some effort. How do I encourage this?

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