Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A crawling update: James' newest trick

If you read my previous crawling post, you might remember that James very much aligns with the “observer” characteristics (versus "motor-driven" characteristics) in regard to his gross motor movement.  He loves to watch and take everything in, and he is usually very content with activities during which he doesn't have to move very far.  It takes a lot of practice and motivation for James to move from point A to point B using a skill he hasn't yet mastered.

So imagine our excitement when he rocked a pretty solid commando crawl this week!!

We laughed; we cried; we threw a goldfish party!

What was it that motivated James to get moving?

We’ve continued to do all of the activities in the previous crawling post as well as a bunch of others to strengthen his core, hips, and legs. But now that he has the strength, what I think really showed him that moving forward was a possibility was a scooter!

One of our genius physical therapists thought it might be beneficial to get James one of those square scooters for relay races to show him that he can propel himself.  We started by simply sitting him on it and moving him back and forth. (He likes rides, so he loved this.) Our OT also suggested just pushing one of his favorite stuffed animals on it, so he would get used to it. She’s the best at thinking about how to make these transitions as smooth as possible.

Once he had acclimated, we put him on his stomach and put his favorite toys just slightly out of reach (and of course, his favorite, Cheerios).  We would prompt him to “walk, walk, walk” with his hands. Sometimes, he complained, but gosh darn it, he would get to those Cheerios. As he improved on the scooter, we increased the length he had to go to get to them.  For fun (and to work the extensor muscles), our OT also suggested that we have him grab our hands and pull him slowly forward, since he had the upper body strength to handle that. He loved it.

After about three weeks, he was able to move maybe 5-8 feet on the scooter.  One day, I noticed he was trying to walk with his hands the way he would with a scooter to get a toy on the carpet.  I consulted our little PT bible, Gross Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome, and saw that Patricia Winders discussed surfaces and attire.  Since James had the upper body strength, we made sure he had short sleeves so he could sort of stick to the floor when pulling with his elbows, but long pants for his legs to slide, and we stuck him on the kitchen linoleum, which is more slippery than the carpet. 

Like we did with the scooter, I had him grab my hands and pulled him about a foot across the floor.  He gave me a big smile in return.  I then put a toy he doesn’t see very often just slightly out of reach, and he went for it!!  He was SO proud of himself.

Now that we knew he could do it, we just had to think about the motivators for him. For James, the “ultimate motivators,” as Winders would say, were goldfish, Cheerios, our cell phones, big glasses of water, and recently, playing with big mixing bowls of water.  Hey, whatever works!

Winders talks about how crawling the first 1-2 feet is the hardest, and when your baby gets to about 10 feet, s/he will start crawling around the house!  We’ve gotten through the first 1-2 feet, and we’re starting to see him army crawl on the carpet, too. Keep going, James! Next up…all four’s J

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My favorite things at 15 months

Our society is a bit obsessed with milestones and timelines in early childhood (me, included), and I’m trying to make a greater effort to celebrate the small things in the moment.  There is nothing particularly special about the 15-month mark, but I wanted to share some of my favorite James-isms before they disappear and new ones arrive. 

So here are some of the things that bring a smile to my face on a daily basis.

My favorite things:

When James wakes up and we pick him up from his crib, one of the very first things his sleepy self does is wave “hi” to our reflections in the mirror.

When he gets hyper, he laughs and shakes his head back and forth as fast as he can until he’s dizzy.

When something is delicious, he makes “mmm” noises throughout the meal.

When he drives his favorite car, he talks nonstop.

Signs are taking off! He does, “hi,” “more” “all done” (and sings that one, too… "ahhhh" or “ahhhh da”), “up,” “down,” "open," and “wind.”  He guides my hands to sign “book,” and has done “play” once or twice! When he’s excited and wants to say something, all of these gestures become jumbled together crazily, and it’s perfect.

Though he has and will continue to drive me crazy at times, I love that he’s strong-willed.

I secretly love when he casually signs “all done” when he’s had enough of a therapy play activity…sometimes as soon as it begins. :)

He still reaches out for hugs.

He raises his hands for “so big” to help me when he is getting dressed.

He is obsessed with books and sometimes cries when they are over.

When he’s on my lap and we’re reading a book, once in a while, he turns his little head around to give me an approving smile.

Most days, we can't believe he's ours to keep.  

 What is something a little one in your life does that you can't get enough of?