My son started seeing a developmental pediatrician
It is so hard to wrap your mind around sensory issues. Seeking and avoiding can go hand in hand. I do think your OT was right. A calming room is probably the best route. And I will tell you why I think that. The whole world can be a place for him to seek. There wont be too many places that will truly allow him to relax.
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(HUGS) and welcome to the board. It's all so confusing, isn't it? :) I think you need to go with what feels best for you and your DS. Take the info that was given, and pick out the parts that work. With my DS, his sensory needs are continuously changing, so I try to set boundaries and then give him as much stimulation (or take as much out) as I can manage.
You might incorporate the "hard work" into chores or a set playtime, and then use the sensory room when it's time for more quiet periods. I find that if I wear my DS out with lots of physical activities, he's much better behaved and clear headed. He's also more able to tolerate those things he doesn't like (like wearing a pair of jeans lol). Swimming has been great for us, because he gets his physical out and we all manage to have a good time. It took him awhile to get used to the water in his eyes, though. :)
I dont think there is any right or wrong answer here. You just have to try things out and pick what works! Take lots of notes. lol
I wish you lots of luck and I'd love to hear more about the aquatic therapy!