Due to living abroad, I have decided to send my daughter, Sandy, to an international kindergarten. Last year, the teacher asked me to go into the school to have a conversation about Sandy’s behavior. Sandy has been showing signs of emotional instability. She throws temper tantrums, gets extremely upset and cries when her toy is taken away, and even scratches her own face until she bleeds. The teacher asked if it were possible for Sandy to take a temporary break from school to prevent her from hurting herself and others. The teacher also recommended that I took Sandy to the doctor’s because she felt that Sandy probably has some sort of social disorder such as autism. I was aghast at the teacher’s comments, unable to come up with a response.
Sandy began going to school for only 2 hours per week to prevent her behavior from disrupting the class or affecting her classmates. At the same time, I eagerly searched for help locally. However, none of the institutions we tried out were of any help to Sandy. Grasping at straws, I began looking for resources from my home country, Taiwan, online. After seeing positive reviews and recommendations for KickStart, I bought tickets for home immediately.
During the consultation with Ms.Wu,(Cynthia) I learned that Sandy does not have autism. She has tactile and vestibular hypersensitivity and poor emotional regulation. Her emotional outbursts are often due to tactile defensiveness and gravitational insecurity.
Her first therapy session consisted of the therapists teaching us how to use the Wilbarger Protocol (brushing therapy) and showing us the joint-compression method. Sandy enjoyed the feel of the brushing therapy but felt uncomfortable when the therapist implemented the joint-compression method on her, even though she was told beforehand that there would be touching. She began to hyperventilate and shied away from the touch. I have not realized how bad her tactile defensiveness was until that moment.
At her school, the teachers often thought Sandy answered irrelevantly to their questions. This was due to low vestibular awareness which led to poor auditory processing. The therapist implemented swing exercises to improve her vestibular awareness. Sandy was unable to complete the swing exercises because she feared the rotating motion, which I did not know before. The therapist was professional and modified the exercises to include only linear motions, which Sandy participated in without much discomfort.
Although her teacher thought that she might have a social disorder, we found that Sandy has no problem working with the therapist, and even shows empathy towards others. The therapist believes that Sandy’s social cognition is on par with those of the same age, which was a big relief for me.
Sandy was only able to attend seven therapy sessions during the short winter break. On the last session, the therapist reminded me to continue doing the home program from home. This program consists of different assignments the therapist has given me over the course of her therapy, which includes using the Wilbarger Protocol (brushing therapy) and conducting vestibular exercises. After returning home, Sandy eagerly looked forward to her next session with KickStart in March; however, with the pandemic, we weren’t even able to leave home, let alone return to Taiwan. Fortunately, I was able to stay in contact with KickStart in the meantime via email. The therapist was happy to provide me with even more activities to do with Sandy so that her improvement could continue from home during the pandemic.
School has reopened for about two weeks. Sandy’s teacher, who had originally thought Sandy had autism, asked me to meet with her next week. She wanted to understand what we did for Sandy during the quarantine because of the improvements she saw. Sandy has been able to control her emotions quite well over the past two weeks. She answered relevant to the questions posed and her organization and efficiency has improved. The teacher thought the changes were incredible. I am very grateful to have found KickStart. They gave me the knowledge I needed to help my daughter. When I first heard that Sandy might have autism or other disorders, I was desolate. I thank God for leading Sandy and I to KickStart. Being able to have such a great resource in my home country to turn to is the luckiest thing in my life.
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