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Rainee Jonassen is 2018 SRRC ambassador

Rainee Jonassen
Rainee Jonassen

OTTAWA — Starved Rock Regional Center for Therapy and Child Development (SRRC), formerly Easter Seals LBC, announced Rainee Jonassen is the 2018 ambassador. She is an adorable, smart, funny, lovable child who happens to struggle with Sensory Processing Disorder.

Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD, is when the brain has trouble organizing information from the senses. Sensory processing issues can impact a child’s social skills. It can also cause difficulties in the classroom.

Although every person is unique, people with SPD usually fall into one of two categories, hypersensitive or hyposensitive. Rainee has hyposensitive Sensory Processing Disorder.

Hyposensitive (or undersensitive) children lack sensitivity to their surroundings. They might have a high tolerance for or indifference to pain. They may be “sensory seeking,” meaning they have a constant need to touch people or things — even when it’s not appropriate. They may also have trouble with personal space or be clumsy and uncoordinated. They might be constantly on the move and take risks on the playground, accidentally harming other kids when playing.

Rainee’s parents, Shane and Jackie, saw signs from infancy. Like many children with SPD, Rainee needed to be held much of the time. By the time Rainee was 18 months, her symptoms became severe enough to affect normal functioning and disrupt everyday life.

“When Rainee was 18 months we were concerned because she was constantly fidgeting, didn’t have an interest in playing, was not speaking much at all and rarely made eye contact, said Jackie. She would constantly run into the couch or other things and spent hours lining up and organizing toys.”

Her parents expressed their concerns to their pediatrician who referred the family to SRRC. Rainee began developmental and speech therapy and eventually attended toddler class in Ottawa. She also received OT services.

Therapy depends on a child’s individual needs. But in general, it involves helping children do better at activities they’re normally not good at and helping them get used to things they can’t tolerate.

“Rainee will lead a normal life, said Kelly Bault, developmental therapist at SRRC. “She will just have to work a little harder than a typical child. Kids don’t grow out of Sensory Processing Disorder; they grow into it, unless we spot it and treat it — the sooner, the better.”

Rainee still has many problems daily, but they are a lot more manageable. She is now playing with dolls, socializing with other kids and even participating in a dance class. Without SRRC, none of this would be possible, said Shane.

A few facts on Early Intervention and Sensory Processing Disorder:

• Children’s brains are most pliable before the age of 7, which means you have a better chance of helping them overcome the problem at a much faster pace then you would have after the age of 7. Also by then some of the behaviors or issues can be very difficult to break.

• Having a diagnosis can help families who are appalled, worried or at a loss as to what to do with their child. Getting them diagnosed and help early on helps families learn to understand the disorder and reasons for their behavior instead of just building up anger against the child as they get older and the behaviors don’t stop.

• When children have SPD they often have many different symptoms of the disorder, early intervention will help to fix the problem but also will help to prevent other problems developing because of the main issues at hand wasn’t worked on early on.

SRRC provides quality developmental, speech and physical therapy services to children who have a developmental delay or are at risk for developmental delay. Screenings are provided free of charge in Ottawa and at locations throughout LaSalle and Bureau counties. SRRC also has a structured toddler class in Ottawa and Peru for 2 year olds, a child care center in Ottawa for children with and without special needs from 6 months old until 12 years old and beyond if there is a special need, and an Autism Resource Center onsite in Ottawa. SRRC’s mission is to provide quality services to children with and without special needs and their families so that they have equal opportunity to live, learn and play in their community.

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