I’ve been slacking off on writing the last couple days; by the time we’re finished work (anywhere from 5:30 to 8pm and onwards) my brain just doesnt have the energy. Not to mention I want to enjoy some time with the other students and try to be present. Not thinking about what to write, or when, or why, or how Im going to figure out the next client Im going to see, or how much I have to do.
Today was a bit of a hectic day; I saw my two kiddos at the EI centre this morning. The one with the short attention span (because of his needs for sensory input, specifically having the fan on) had a near melt down. Crying, kicking, screaming, hitting, the whole works came out. He specifically lashes out at his mom, but seeks her out for comfort as well, as do most kids. I was challenging him for sure, hence the behavioural outburst. He has an autism diagnosis, and his obsession with the fan interferes with his functional abilities. So after making him do a round of a small obstacle course, I would let him turn the fan on, but only if he started to make a meaningful sound (“Po” is the start of the Tamil word for “on”, so that worked or “Oh” for “on”). No obstacle course, no fan. No sound, no fan. Pretty tough for a 3 year old, but having him learn that he needs to ask, or attempt to ask, and do the work required will help his behaviour in the long run. There’s a lot more clinical judgement that goes into this, so it’s not that Im trying to trigger a temper tantrum, but its a result of him doing things he finds tricky.
After that, I was supposed to see another child who lives at ASSA for a splint, but she didnt show. So my supervisor and I pulled an audible and headed into Tenkasi (the closest town) to pick up a few items for one of the children I will be treating in the villages. His family is very very poor, they appear under nourished so supplies or toys are not overly feasible for them. I picked up a washing brush (similar to a surgical brush but a bit softer) to help reduce his sensory defensiveness (dislike of sensory input, from touch, sounds or sight) because he’s been quite deprived thus far. He spends almost the whole day laying on a thin blanket over a concrete floor, with a single bulb providing all the light in the room (which is basically the whole house). This family’s situation is heartbreaking, and I know they are doing the best they can, to support this child and his siblings. There are so many unfair systemic issues that place people in poverty like this, and its a challenge to not become enraged. Rage might be an appropriate reaction to the family’s circumstances, but I dont feel like it will be helpful to treating this child and offering realistic, feasible solutions to his parents. I am instead choosing to be grateful that they have access to some home services, even if it’s late in the game (he’s 6, and looks 3), and that they are at least connected to OT and other health care providers. I am choosing to make the most of my time with this family, and provide low-cost or free interventions, so that they (hopefully) feel empowered moving forward. It’s challenging me personally, and my heart breaks for this family. But I have to trust that they, and myself, are doing the best we can under the circumstances we have. And it makes me very grateful for the circumstances I have, and the other privileges and opportunities afforded to me.
We watched the most incredible sunset tonight, and booked a trip to the most southern tip of India, Kanyakumari, for this weekend. This is an area where 3 oceans meet (he Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean), and it will be great to go explore a different area of India. We will leave Saturday afternoon, once we’re done with patient rounds and then take a car the 2 and half hours to the coast, returning Sunday night.
In the mean time, this was the sunset we were treated to tonight. The picture really doesnt do it justice, but it will have to do! The two other students and myself, went to the top of the guest house up and then up another ladder to catch this. Well worth it in my opinion.