Monday, February 02, 2009

When the brain can't process what the eyes see...

Today went about as we had expected. Interesting, but oh-so-incredibly-overwhelming. I am quickly learning that with the higher level of doctors that we're seeing, we are getting into the people that have a true passion for what they do. This doctor fit that bill! This guy knows, but the complexity of this field of study is mind-boggling, even for someone like me that loves to dabble in really complex topics "just for fun".

So.......here's where we're at. Jennica's eyes can see very well. Her eyes are healthy and she has good vision out of both eyes. However, her eyes and her brain have a communication issue. A big one. Her brain is not correctly "reading" the information that her eyes are sending, or at least not fast enough to keep up. She's obviously able to walk, talk, write her name, and all those basic functions. But when the field of vision becomes busy (such as a grocery store, classroom, basketball game, etc.), her brain gets overwhelmed and confused by the vast amount of visual input and can't sort it all. And so.....we see the breakdown in "organization" in her behavior as she struggles to cope with a brain that isn't keeping up with input as fast as its coming. In order to seek organization, her brain requests input from other areas of her body so that it can rely upon that input to function. Which means that rather than relying on her vision to determine her body position, the brain looks to her movement (vestibular input) to determine gravitational influences, etc. Hence, we get a child in constant motion in highly-stimulating environments. It is her brain's coping mechanism to deal with a difficulty in interpreting the information coming from the eyes. Believe it or not, this makes HUGE sense to us!!! Add that the brain is probably having the same problem with the information coming from her ears (still to be determined for sure, but highly likely), and aaaaaaaahhhhhh..........we have a textbook case of Sensory Processing Disorder. Or Sensory Integration Dysfunction, as it is also sometimes called. Voila. Bingo.

But now........the important part. What do we do about it? We are on the leading edge of science in this field. Sounds cool in theory, but SCARY. We don't really like being in a "guinea pig" position, but to some extent........thats precisely where we are. What if 10 years from now they decide that the way they treated kids with SPD 10 years ago was all wrong? Jennica will have been one of those kids!! But the other choice is to not try to treat her at all? Obviously, that doesn't make sense either! And so, we move forward. With faith. And prayer. And simply hope that if something is wrong, we'll see it or feel it or somehow know. We just have to do the best we can with the information that is available and the best expertise that we can find.

I will admit to being surprised by a few things at this point. First, this doctor is a huge advocate of naturopathic medicine, GFCF diets, and was blatantly supportive of a biomedical approach. He was thrilled to hear that we were already on that path, and believes strongly that it will be crucial to Jen's success. Second, insurance coverage is now a great big question mark. We are travelling onto a "lightly-traveled road." Not because there are not a lot of kids needing these therapies, but because the pursuit for answers is still in process. Hence, insurance companies are hesitant. We won't deny care for our daughter, but boy howdy, we're going to be broke in a hurry. And third, today was the first time in 4 years that we've ever EVER had a medical professional look at us and say that we're going to integrate her care between all the therapists and professionals now in her life, and we're going to work TOGETHER. We're going to communicate, we're going to make sure that we arrange therapy to train her brain in the sequence that is logical to maximize her learning and your money, and we're going to HELP this little girl succeed.

Quite frankly, I cried at that point and a doctor that I had never met before hugged me. I'm overwhelmed at the road ahead of us, the demands on our time with three other children at home and a house and our jobs, and the cost that we know will be involved. But his words today also gave me hope. And that means a lot.

1 comment:

Natalie M said...
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