Bryanna Burcham Sensory Disorder December 2, 2013

Maxwell’s Story
I’ve known Maxwell for almost two years now. We met in my classroom when I first started teaching at Growing Green in the three in a half to four in a half year old Preschool room. Before I started working in the room I would always hear about how “naughty” Maxwell was and how often he was hurting other children, including my own son who was in the classroom with Maxwell. At this point none of the teachers knew what to do with Maxwell; he was just another child that was going to be discharged because he was, in the other teacher’s eyes, “naughty”. I was a little hesitant about working in the same classroom as Maxwell, but I was convinced that I was going to help him and make being in the classroom easier for him. During the course of six months I got to know Maxwell. He was as wild as the others had said, but as I got to know him I found out a lot of important things. Maxwell would eat food, play dough, and really anything off the floor that looked interesting to him. Maxwell needed to keep his hands and feet busy at all times and personal boundaries meant nothing to him. At that point I really thought Maxwell had some kind of Sensory Disorder, but I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to worry his parents. After those six months summer came and he wasn’t around as much seeing that both his parents were teachers. The next school year Maxwell entered Kenosha Unified School District. Within two months of K.U.S.D. Preschool Maxwell was diagnosed with a sensory disorder. I didn’t follow much of Maxwell’s progress after that point beyond what my son told me.

Sensory Disorder: Sensory processing (sometimes called "sensory integration" or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses

and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or "sensory integration." (Miller, and Schoen) Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). CP is usually caused by brain damage that occurs before or during a child's birth, or during the first 3 to 5 years of a child's life. (Bachrach) Maxwell is now five years old and is in Kindergarten. I went to Maxwell’s house to play with and observe him for this research and I found out a lot of things I didn’t know before about him. Maxwell was adopted at birth, but his parents knew, and still know, nothing about the birth parents. They told me it didn’t matter what his history was like because they were going to love him regardless. At Maxwell’s fifteen month checkup. Maxwell wasn’t walking correctly and since they knew nothing about his birth parents they did some tests which diagnosed him with mild cerebral palsy. There isn’t any real cure for Cerebral Palsy, but it can be worked on. Maxwell had Spastic CP, which is stiffness in movement. Amanda, Maxwell’s mother, said it just went away on its own. In September of 2011, Maxwell was three and a half, was when his mother and father started noticing differences in Maxwell compared to other children. It started with noise issues. Light noise to us would hurt his ears so badly he’d lose control of himself. He’d start yelling and crying saying it was too loud. Playing with others was hard for him too. He would run up to other children and slam his body into them hurting the other child. This left Max upset because he’d have no one to play with and he didn’t understand why. Amanda told me they didn’t know what to do anymore so they took him to the doctor and presented him with the notes from Maxwell’s teachers and other information they took down from instances they saw. The doctor told them to continue watching him but to also read a book called “Out of sync Child”. Amanda said she automatically after reading the book knew he had a sensory disorder and took Maxwell back to the doctor.

The doctor did finally diagnose Maxwell with SPD and he started occupational therapy once a week. When Maxwell started Preschool through K.U.S.D. he received and I.E.P.(Individualized Education Program) and started receiving services each week in class. Beyond the school services Maxwell did things at home to help himself. He has a mini trampoline, he carries heavy things around the house, and he now has a lap buddy for school. Now that Maxwell is in Kindergarten he’s still doing all these things with an additional thirty minutes a month of therapy. The school he goes to is rated top school for children who have disabilities. For Maxwell, he is in an all-inclusive class that has a special education teacher in at all times, but there is also a sensory break room he can go to if need be; he also has therapy he goes to in the school which Amanda says helps Maxwell out a lot. Amanda took some extra steps to prepare Maxwell for his transition into the “big kid school”. Maxwell was terrified Amanda told me. They set up a tour of the school, while school was still in session, so Maxwell could see all the other students and teacher, they met and spent time with his teacher, played on the playground throughout the summer and they took pictures of where the bathrooms were, teachers, the principle, and other important places in the school along with important people. They used these pictures daily with Maxwell so he wouldn’t forget what the school looked like or the people in it. They also set up a time where Maxwell could see his bus he’d be taking to and from school. Maxwell saw where the bus would be every day and met the driver. Maxwell told me he was nervous about his first bus ride, but it’s ok now he loves the bus he said. As I think back to my interview and time I got to spend with Maxwell and his parents I don’t think I’d change anything about what they are doing for him. I would recommend Occupational Therapy to parents with children who have any type of sensory disorder. I found an awesome website with things to look for when looking for an OT; here’s some makes parent education an integral part of the treatment program, Provides intensive treatment, and Uses purposeful sensory stimulation. (Miller & Schone, 2013) The last time I talked to them at Maxwell and Mason’s, my son’s, playdate Amanda told me Maxwell was recently diagnosed with ADHD. He’s now on medication

and she says he’s calmed down a lot to the point where he’s almost a different child. Going through what Amanda and Ben are going through with Maxwell is an amazing and constantly changing journey and will never have a dull moment as Maxwell’s dad says, but they wouldn’t change it for anything. Maxwell is such a sweet boy and I’ll never forget him down the road. I’ve learned so much from him and I know he’s definitely going to do great things in life. I know now through him, what to look for, and when a child is covering his ears saying it’s too loud and then scream at the same time to watch a little closer because maybe it’s not just the child trying to be “ naughty” it’s the child saying help me!

1. Miller, Lucy Jane, and Sarah A. Schoen. "About SPD." 02 12 2013. Sensory Proccessing Disorder Foundation, E-mail. <>. 2. Bachrach, Steven J. "Cerebral Palsy." . Kids Health, E-mail. < 3. Miller, L. J., & Schone, S. A. (2013, 12 02). What to look for in an occupational therapist [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from