One of Reese's teachers mentioned "low tone" as a possibility for him about a week ago, which sparked my recent examinations of what kind of physical attention he needs and whether or not to pursue talking to an occupational therapist. Yesterday she and I talked more about my observations about his liking firm touch and needing pushy/aggressive play. She recommended a book, The Out of Sync Child, and last night I started thinking more and more about sensory processing and how he seeks certain kinds of experiences (like pushing his head against things, and enjoying putting things in his mouth) and avoids others (he's reluctant to potty train, doesn't like loud/bright places unless he can warm up gradually). He fits a LOT of the items on the SPD checklist, it's actually quite amazing how the list calls to mind many things he does currently as well as things he did as a baby/toddler. It provides a new filter through which to view Reese, and suddenly a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated quirks come together and fit into a whole, in a way that helps me to understand him.
So...I think there's something here, in exploring the idea of Reese as a sensory seeker who is interacting with the world in a way that isn't average. I'm having trouble, though, with the idea of seeing it as "disordered." I do not think of him as out of sync or as having a disorder, nor do I think it would serve him well to label him as such. Considering new information about him or viewing it through a new lens is awesome. Treating it as something wrong that needs to be fixed? I don't see the usefulness of that. He is a functional person, not somebody with a neurological disorder. The statistic on the SPD Foundation website that 1 in 20 children has symptoms of this "disorder" sends up a red flag for me. Really, 5% of the population is screwed up? Maybe, instead, we need to take a look at how we define healthy function? Is this the next ADD, over-diagnosed, over-treated? Do kids lose something when they're expected to fit a narrow defnition of "normal"? (Would the artists and innovators of yesteryear stand a chance in today's schools?)
Dan and I have decided to proceed with caution on the diagnostic front. For now, we can seek information about sensory processing and use it to understand him better (no differently from how I would use new information about Griffin or Xander). Both of us approach testing thusly: what information will a test (evaluation, diagnostic protocol, etc) give us, and what will we do with that information? At present, I don't see an OT evaluation changing what we do, and I do see it potentially being a harmful process for him, so we will hold off on that unless we sense that seeking an expert opinion is truly in Reese's best interest.