I finally have a “diagnosis” for Karen’s behavior. No doctor or psychologist has yet tagged her with it, but that is most likely because her therapist doesn’t want to treat a disorder, she wants to treat Karen – and our family, by extension. Our therapist did mention the phrase to me once, in passing, and I have since scoured the Internet for more information.

I have another parent meeting with K’s psychologist next week, and I’ve found more to add to the soup. Interesting how dealing with one child’s issues, overlaps and helps resolve things with the other.

Matan is getting occupational therapy to help him overcome some of his delays. Overall, he seems to function at about the age of a 20 month old. She gave us a questionnaire to complete in order to determine if he is suffering from sensory integration issues, ie, suffers from sensory overload. She recommended the “brushing treatment”, which we will begin next week. It consists of spending about 20 minutes, six times a day, to brush large portions of his skin and then put squeeze with moderate pressure on his major joints. This is supposed to help him moderate his responses to sensory overload.

After completing the questionnaire for our son, DH and I realized that when Karen was at his age, she had much more extreme responses to over stimulation than does Matan. After reading a lot of material, both online and in real books, I’ve come to the conclusion that much of Karen’s acting out may be attributable to Sensory Integration Disorder.

Topics to discuss with our therapist next week are whether Karen can also benefit from treatment for sensory integration disorder, such as the brushing we’ll be doing with her brother. I also want to know if there may be other solutions more appropriate for her age. My guess is that working with this therapist, and having the therapist guide is in parenting, will have the most influence, but it will take a long time. I like the brushing idea because I think she’ll enjoy the closeness of having me focus on her like that.

It seems that most institutionalized children suffer from sensory integration issues because they were exposed to so little in terms of their senses. Sure, they may have had music, but they had no physical closeness to a caring adult on a consistent basis. They formed no attachments. They had never seen tv, a movie, or even a car. They spent about 14 hours a day in bed, and the remainder, in a cold environment with few toys, and certainly nothing stimulating and exciting. Suddenly they find themselves in a loud and colorful world, full of motion, new creatures and people speaking a strange language. It sounds like science fiction, but when we first brought them home, both children were like aliens in a new world.

Every child responds differently. Karen went into shock after her first day out in a park full of people, dogs, bicycles, skateboarders and noisiness. She spent the next 48 hours staring listlessly, lying on the cold floor tiles and refused to eat or drink. We managed to help her pull out of it, but she continued reacting to loud events and new people and places. Now she’s a big girl, and thinks she can deal with anything. I wish she could, but she isn’t, and can’t.

A plethora of diagnoses, but few real ways to treat, except to follow a long road to creating a safe and calm situation for both children.