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