Thursday, March 1, 2007

Blowing Feathers

I think the old saying goes something like "you could have knocked me over with a feather." Well around here the feathers are the ones getting knocked over, particularly a bright blue one that we brought home from speech therapy on Wednesday. It's a long story, let me start at the beginning...

...Monday, John went to see the Developmental Pediatrician. During this visit he was seen and evaluated by a speech therapist and an occupational therapist, not his normal ones, and they each had suggestions of more and different things to do to help John. The speech therapist told us that she felt that John's dyspraxia was not only affecting his mouth, but that to her, he seemed to also have a problem with phonation (speaking) because he didn't seem to be able to control his breathing. Not that he has a breathing problem, but can't make himself exhale or inhale on demand. This would go along with the other quirky things that John can't make happen yet, like he can't close his eyes if you ask him too and it took him days to learn to stick out his tongue when asked. Anyway, the therapist suggested that we get him to blow on things and made lots of suggestions including what is supposed to be the coolest bubble blower in the world, sold at Gymboree of all places, hmmmmmm, a reason to go and let John wander the mall!

...The rest of the appointment was quite productive, the OT had several suggestions as well, and the pediatrician herself checked John's legs because he seems to have one that's a bit longer than the other and might need a lift in one of his orthotics. She also suggested that John begin going to the Cerebral Palsy clinic and set up his first appointment. CP is one of those things that scares me, but John's PT assures us that he knows adults with CP who have graduated from college and married voluptuous blondes, while this doesn't necessarily ease all the worry I suppose it does some. At any rate, there is no formal or really even suggested diagnosis of CP, but that is the clinic where they would best be able to keep track of John's spine and hips to make sure that they don't rotate or move out of line. John has weak muscle tone, always has, and this is the clinic to watch it in, and I suppose that I'll leave my fear in the parking lot and do just fine.

...Oh the feather, well anyway, John and I went to speech alone on Wednesday. This was rather an interesting ride, the first ever that John has made that long with just me that he kept his hearing aids in and actually the first in a long time period that he kept them in. We talked all the way in, and he showed me the signs for the trees that we passed, and the bird (hawk, actually) that was sitting on the big post and the trucks that were on the highway, this was all rather entertaining and fortunately not distracting enough that I wrecked the Jeep. At speech John was pretty good, although he seems to have a problem picking a picture out of a book, while he has much less of a problem picking up a 3-D object in the same situation, we're working on this. Near the end of speech, Amy, suggested that we have John work on blowing a feather off our hands because that takes very little effort and would bring the quickest success for him. He tried to blow the bright blue feather off her hand and was able to move the little wispy hairs on it a bit, enough that we could see he was working on it, but that was as far as he got, so we took the feather home to practice.

...Yesterday he was able to blow on it a little more and this afternoon Mark was giving it a try and the very first time John blew it right off his hand and then was able to do it again each time after that. The other cool things for the day were that John was able to finish a whole juice box using the straw, as opposed to squeezing the box and squirting the apple juice in his mouth and other places, or pulling the straw out, throwing it on the floor and then tipping the box up and squirting the apple juice out of the hole. I'm not a big fan of juice boxes but the little straws really work on the mouth muscles and besides the Motts for Tots Apple Juice is at least diluted down and not straight sugar, besides he only gets one.

Also we worked on his pointing at pictures in books, this was good and well typical. We started with "The Best Mouse Cookie" and I had John point to the mouse on each page, he did pretty well, other than when he was distracted and looking at the dog. Then we went onto "Where's Spot?" and here he showed me that it may be a little more behavioral than we were thinking. At first he wouldn't point to the dog, hello there is a dog on every page in this book, and she's big! Anyway, then I refused to either read the page, or let him turn the page until he pointed to the dog, this resulted in the dog getting pointed to on every page with little or no difficulty and on the last couple pages he first 'poked' the dog and then looked for Spot. Silly boy. With "Barnyard Dance" he did pretty well with finding the cow all the way through the book, the second time through when we were looking for the pig he found it some of the time but was also showing me the sign for 'duck' and 'dog' and pointing to them too, and of course by the time we tried looking for the sheep it was a lost cause, but hey he was doing much better.

Each day we work on John's signs, verbs, nouns, with flash cards, with books, with questions and without. It happens at every meal, and most of the time in between. I've finally resolved myself that we are not going to homeschool in the future, we're already doing it now, and hey it's a lot easier and less painful that I thought it could be and well a good bit of the time it's really even fun and all of the time John is learning one more thing, so we must not be too horrible at it either. It's nice to have a day of successes, tomorrow we have more speech therapy and pool therapy and who knows what new things we'll learn.

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