the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment.”
More recently, disorders within this process have become evident in an increasing number of children. Widely named Sensory Integration Disorders or SID, these disorders complicate the brains interpretation of different sensory information causing basic everyday encounters to become anxiety-riddled nightmares for those afflicted. Each suffering individual may be triggered by different things, for example, where one child may get distracted by busy, colorful prints, another may be tormented by the combination of a conversation and the smell of someone’s perfume.
Those afflicted are prone to sensory overloads, which often lead to panic attacks. In children, these emotions are projected and misconstrued as “tantrums” or outbursts of aggressive behavior.
To bring this matter a bit closer to home, a local girl named Emma Wilson was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder. Emma was diagnosed in the WSU Medical Center when she was just four months old after her family began noticing developmental delays in her motor functions. Luckily for Emma, there are a variety of therapies that can help her learn to overcome what she is able to and give her tools cope with the rest.
Occupational and speech therapies are the main recommendation for her. Though Emma has learned to sign the basics such as ‘more,’ ‘please,’ and ‘thank you,’ and shakes her head yes and no, speaking is a basic necessary function.
After one week of speech therapy at the recommended number of sessions, she began saying words. Most recently, Emma uttered a word that shocked her parents, she said park! To most, it would seem insignificant but to the Wilson’s it marked a huge step for Emma. They typically referred to the park as the “up down” because of the slides that Emma enjoyed playing on. Only in the few days prior to her statement did they call it the park. Emma’s immediate recognition of the playground brought her family to tears.
After two weeks of speech therapy, she was singing!
“She loves to sing,” stated Sarah Wilson, Emma’s mother. “Anything in a song, she picks up quickly.”
She is supposed to be in speech two times per week and occupational therapy once a week. Her play group/social therapy is at the Early Learning Center in South Bend, which unfortunately, she is only able to attend sporadically. With speech therapies alone being $180 per session, it’s easy to imagine the financial toll being taken on the whole family. After fees, the insurance only covers about five visits per year, which doesn’t even scratch the surface of the 100-plus sessions recommended for Emma.
With finances being a major potential roadblock in Emma’s development, members of the community have banded together in an effort to raise money for her cause. They held a bake sale at the theater during the Willapa Harbor Festival last weekend and more are in the works.
With the goal of beginning preschool in October, Emma has some big summer goals ahead of her like learning to speak about personal safety. When Emma’s attention is focused elsewhere, she may not be able to communicate that she has hurt herself or even that she has a tummy ache. These are crucial to her functioning correctly in school so that is what she has been working on lately.
In addition to the community fundraisers, an account at the Bank of America has been opened for anyone who wishes to donate to Emma’s cause.