Gummy Therapy

It’s Wednesday again and for my family that means that it’s therapy day for Monkey. He gets Speech Therapy (ST) and Occupational Therapy (OT) every Wednesday for one hour each. Even though it’s only two hours, Wednesdays always seem to be our long days because of all the things that are done before and after therapy. For instance, today, I did some cleaning (mainly dishes) before it was time for us to leave. My husband gave my son a bath while I cleaned and then it was time to go. Two hours of therapy usually takes about three hours out of our day because of driving time and I prefer to get my son to therapy early so that he can spend some time with other children his age. There is a waiting room with a play area where I can let my son run freely without worrying about him getting hurt.

Today, I got there a bit later than usual, but still about 20 minutes early. About five minutes before the appointment, I could smell Monkey from the other side of the room. (We are still working on potty training). So, I quickly went to change him, finding little cashew pieces in his pullup. I also noticed Monkey had a slight fever last night (probably from the cashews, which we will not be giving him again) and was still a bit warm this morning, even after giving him some Tylenol. So today, I took Monkey into ST, which he has first and explained to his therapist that he wasn’t feeling very well today, but seemed to be doing better before we left. Then Monkey decided to leave the room on his own about 15 minutes into the appointment. He wandered into the facilities kitchen so his therapist asked me if there’s some kind of eatable treat that would really motivate him. I suggested gummy snacks. This turned out to be an interesting and effective suggestion. Monkey was very vocal today. He said some words that he’d said before and some that he hadn’t. He even said a two word phrase, “the book,” when asked, “What do we read?” I could see Monkey’s therapist getting so excited that she probably could’ve cried. He said, “pop,” “bubbles,” and “moo,” along with some other words I’d never heard him say before. Each time he was asked to say a word he was told that he’d get a gummy in exchange and it worked so well that his therapist will probably try it again next week.

And before we knew it, it was time for OT. I also let the occupational therapist know that Monkey wasn’t feeling his best today, but for not feeling well, Monkey did surprisingly well. At one point, his occupational therapist explained “brushing” (referring to the Wilbarger Protocol for sensory processing disorder) to me, explaining that I should do it several times a day. They sell a surgical brush for $2 there for this, but I had no cash on me, so no way to pay for one on the spot. Basically, “brushing” is where you brush your child’s skin with the horizontal side of a surgical brush up their arms and legs and down their back. You do not, however, brush their head, neck, or belly. So, because I didn’t have any cash, I decided that I would buy a surgical brush later at a pharmacy. The rest of the appointment went pretty well for Monkey not feeling well and again, before we knew it, it was time to leave.

As soon as I got home from Monkey’s appointments, I began doing some research on where I could find a surgical brush. First of all, a surgical brush (sometimes called a sterile brush) is a soft scrub brush that surgeons use to clean their hands before performing surgery. If you have an Autistic child who is also a “sensory kid,” you probably already know what this is and most likely own one, but explaining this to people who are not surgeons and outside of the Autism community is difficult. So, I called a local medical supply store to ask if they carried one since I couldn’t find one online at a Walmart, Kroger, Riteaid, or Walgreen’s pharmacy. Once I was able to sufficiently explain the original purpose of such a device to the person on the phone, they told me that they saw one at a Kroger in my city, but it wasn’t my local Kroger and I wasn’t sure exactly where the Kroger they were talking about was. I decided that maybe my local Kroger had it since it’s a Kroger Marketplace and is huge. I needed to go out to get more Tylenol for Monkey anyway (we ran out this morning), so the trip would not be wasted if I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

So, I began thoroughly searching the pharmacy looking for a surgical brush. I looked in every single isle in the pharmacy section, but didn’t spot it, so I decided that I would ask a pharmacist (maybe they had one behind the counter). The cashier at the pharmacy counter didn’t know what I was talking about, so she went to explain it to the head pharmacist who came over to assist me. I explained what it was to him, but he was unsure what I was talking about, too. Then we went on a wild goose chase through all of the isles of the pharmacy again, with me explaining to the pharmacist that I’d “looked here and here, too” (maybe I missed it, though). I made sure to tell the pharmacist that if they didn’t already carry such a thing, then they should because it’s been estimated that 1 in 110 people have ASD and it occurs in 1 in 70 boys (information from, so it stands to reason that if so many people have the disorder, then pharmacies should carry things like surgical brushes that are used to help people with ASD. I was very polite about it and he said that he’d try to figure out what it was and see what he could do. This was my very small opportunity to advocate for my son and others with ASD and hopefully, something will come of it, but perhaps I will email Kroger about not carrying thing like this in their stores and next week, maybe I’ll remember to have some cash on my person.

So, all in all, a very interesting day and I’m thrilled that Monkey was so vocal at therapy today, even though he wasn’t feeling very well. I love my son and I’m so proud of him.

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