Monday, 17 January 2011

An Aspie visits the occupational therapist

I don't really know what an occupational therapist does, even after spending two hours in a room with one today. Judging by the name I always thought they were something to do with work skills; rehabilitation after a workplace accident and things like that. But the one I went to does a lot of work with children - many with ASD - to do with body awareness.

two gymnasts in an upside-down pose
Incredible as it seems, neither of these are me
I went to get a sensory profile done, which will apparently be helpful for the physiotherapist I've been seeing. I actually went there because I hurt my foot without realising it and it wasn't getting better on its own. The joys of poor pain perception - it turned out to be an ankle's worth of torn ligaments, but the first I knew about it was when I realised it was badly swollen. But it turns out a physio can help with proprioception.  But first we needed the sensory profile.

The sensory profile identifies where my specific issues are. Some come as no surprise, while others were completely not what I was expecting. Auditory processing came out as a definite issue, which is no surprise given my history of sound-induced sensory overloads. Vestibular sense (body awareness and balance) was also pretty ordinary, particularly to do with body awareness and muscle tone.

This isn't muscle tone as in being ripped - if it were, I'd be so far off the dud end of the scale they'd need a posthole digger to retrieve my results. Muscle tone in this context relates to your muscles being aware of how contracted or relaxed they are, and what point of relaxation/contraction is the resting position. For instance, people with low muscle tone tend to slump with our elbows on the table, propping ourselves up, because our muscles identify the resting position as far more relaxed than is helpful. It also leads to trouble with dropping things, and my trouble with holding a cup straight so the contents don't slop out - the muscles are more relaxed than they should be to competently achieve the task.

This is all terribly interesting. I have some exercises, mainly little mini-pushups off the wall or tabletop, to do occasionally throughout the day to 'remind' my muscles to get their act together. The extra vestibular pressure helps perk up muscle tone, apparently.

Another interesting result was that I scored very highly for "emotionally reactive" and "behavioural outcomes of sensory processing". Even after hitting the Google I don't entirely know what that means. I'm particularly concerned about the emotion thing, because I know I don't come across the way I feel. I feel like a very emotional person and my perception of myself is that I go around emoting all over the place. But I've been told by various reliable sources that I come across as cold, aloof and fairly unemotional.

So, like most of my adventures, I come to the end with not so much answers, as more questions.