I thought I'd share a little bit of what we've been up to here. Therapy takes up a lot of time in our week - with 2 children in several therapies. I'm thankful for the progress I'm seeing and thankful the the things I'm able to learn from these therapists.
Both Daniel and Eliana are seeing the same therapist in our home. (I love that we are able to be home for this!) Daniel will be doing speech therapy for a short amount of time. He loves it as it is mainly like focused time to play. Our therapist does a great job making things fun and really working with the child's interests.
Some of the things we are working on with Daniel are his vocal qualtiy (he sounds high pitched and a little nasal at times) and breathing quality (able to sustain long breaths). Some of the things we've done include blowing on whistles and practicing using a deep voice.
Eliana is still working on communicating. She has a few words - bye, gentle, hi - sometimes mama. She has many, many more signs! We have all been learning signs - thank you Signing Time ! We practice these with her often. I will frequently ask her to repeat several words in a string - for example, milk please mommy. She is very good at repeating things she hears. She does sometimes initiate them on her own. The most used sign - PLEASE. It's a nice one.
This week she has started combining a sign with a word!!! Big grin here. She loves Baby Signing Time and sometimes will walk up to the tv and sign "baby" (which is what we call the DVDs) and say "ba-ba". Of course she is rewarded with the movie.
One of the things that I need to do more of is working on her oral motor skills. This falls into speech and also OT. It seems that there is a lot of overlap between the therapists which is also nice. Eliana really dislikes any types of exercises involving her mouth which makes it hard to do things. I need to do a better and more consistant job at working at it anyway!
This is just for Eliana. She is doing well. She has reached a lot of the milestones and is fun to watch. The main thing we are working on now is trying to strengthen some of her inner thigh and core muscles. She walks with her feet spread too wide. She needs to learn to bring them in more and have a smaller base. This will help her as she grows older and may want to do sports and games.
We've tried several things thus far including the following:
*Theratogs - a velcro contraption that seems neat, but is very difficult to put on a wiggly baby. Not sure why we didn't try this longer.
*Tape - A specialized tape across her stomach muscles and her inner thighs to her knees. We tried this brielly. She didn't seem to really mind the tape, but it really irritated her skin! Reminded me of the days of much tape and feeding tubes. (I'm so glad we aren't dealing with that now!)
(If someone is curious about this and wants to see a picture, please email me.)
*Lycra skirt thing that I made which goes from her chest to mid-calf. It's to try to force her to keep her legs together. She doesn't mind at all and it does seem to help.
(Same thing with a pic here. I don't have a good one or I would post it.)
*Exercises - This involves me holding her, usually in my lap, and keeping her legs and feet together. It helps if I can get her to move and exercise her core muscles. It's a challenge to do for long. If I can keep her entertained, she does much better with it.
This is another dual therapy appointment - though this one is outside the home. We start out in a really fun room with balls, foam mats, swings, and much more. The therapist works mainly with Daniel in here to help him experience new things. As a sensory avoider, there were many things that he would not even try. He is definitely improving in this area and seems to have fun here too.
Afterwards we move to another room for feeding. Daniel is being exposed to new foods. It is a slow and sometimes tedious process. We look at food, talk about it, describe and touch it. It's an improvement just to have new foods on his plate! The next step is smelling or licking it. Obviously the goal is to try to eat it.
While this is slow, we are seeing improvment. Just recently he has eaten some peanut butter and jelly (though not together yet). Some days are hard and frustrating for him, but he is trying.
Eliana is learning some self-feeding. One of the techniques we use with her is "hand over hand" where you just place your hand on hers to help guide her in doing whatever it is you want her to learn.
Though messy, she is doing a good job. We are still working on drinking from a cup. In terms of food, she still likes things pretty mashed and will gag or spit out food that has too much texture or is too big of a chunk. (Not my favorite meal activity - the spitting.) In terms of variety she does pretty well. One of her favorites is spaghetti. She actually does well with a variety of pasta as long as there is some sauce (I often used pureed veggies) with it.
Daniel is also doing some listening therapy. We do this 5 days per week. He listens to specialized tape and does fine motor activities while listening. He doesn't seem to mind this at all. One of the improvements we've seen in this area is his tolerance of noise. When we first started with therapy he had a very difficult time if other people were in the same room with us (hard in a large therapy room). He was very bothered by any noises they made. Now, he is better able to handle these noises and people and just tune it out or ignore it.
Well, this has gotten long - and may not be all that interesting. Maybe though it's helpful to someone. I thought I'd share an article on milestones for children with Down syndrome. It was written by a local therapist that has a great reputation in our community. He did a free evaluation of Eliana and I was impressed with his knowledge and skills.
This chart might be helpful for others working with a child with Down syndrome - or perhaps someone just wanting to understand more.
I'm grateful for all that these sweet children are learning and thankful for the assistance I'm receiving! I was planning to add more pics - but in the interest of getting this posted, I'm going to go as is. :-)