Infant Assessment

Ben has his assessment with the NC Infant-Toddler Program on Wednesday morning.  Even though I’ve walked down this road with Henry, I’m still nervous and anxious about the situation with Ben.  I’m worried about his limitations.  It seems like the list of things he can’t do for his age is long, and it seems like it keeps growing.

As of right now, Ben cannot:

  • Roll over from back to tummy
  • Lift his arms up over his head (we can move his arms there, but he can’t do it himself)
  • Crawl (he is 95% immobile – can can push himself backwards while on his tummy and spin around, but that’s it.  He also hasn’t discovered that he can get to places he wants like that, he seems to be doing it by accident)
  • Pull up
  • Get to a sitting position on his own.  Although, he has just learned how to get from sitting to his tummy, but it seems to be more a face plant than anything else….

This situation definitely causes me to question why Ben isn’t crawling.  I keep wondering if it’s something that J and I did – or didn’t do, or if it’s genetic since both of my boys have/had this issue.  I definitely have feelings of guilt, anxiety, stress and just an overwhelming sadness that we’re back on this road again.  I’m really wondering what the outcome of the assessment is going to be on Wednesday….

Similarities

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that Henry had some trouble learning to become mobile. When he was around 11 months old he still hadn’t learned to roll over from back to tummy, and had not learned to crawl, scoot, pull up, cruise or walk. I could plop him in one spot and he would stay exactly there.
So, we started the process to get him some Physical Therapy so he could become mobile. We were put in touch with the NC Infant Toddler Program. They came out to evaluate Henry, and then got the ball rolling from a Physical Therapist to meet with him once a week. Everything went really well, and by the time he was 17 months, Henry graduated from the program.

Now that Ben is just about 8 months old, I’m seeing some of the same “warning signs” that we saw with Henry. Ben still hasn’t learned to roll over from back to tummy. He only kind of reaches for people if we hold our arms out. He’s been screaming if we even try to put him on his tummy for Tummy Time. Seriously, if you start to lower him on the floor he’ll do an ear piercing scream before he’s even on the ground. So, just to allay my fears, I’ve contacted the Infant Toddler Program again to see if we can get Ben assessed.  

I’ve called and sent out emails, and hopefully I’ll hear back from them soon so that we can get the ball rolling.

Occupational Therapy?

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you might remember that Henry had to go through physical therapy to learn to crawl and walk. He had about 6 months of PT to get him fully mobile.  He started crawling right after turning a year old, and starting walking at around 17 months.
J and I have noticed since then that Henry is still a bit behind on his motor skills. He can still do everything that he needs to, but there is a noticeable difference between him and his peers motor skill wise. He still needs some assistance getting dressed, but this is improving every day. He has trouble keeping up with his friends on the playground – can’t run or climb as fast, and doesn’t try things like the big slides or climbing walls that his friends do.  

At every well visit with the doctor we would bring up Henry’s motor skills,and we were always assured that he would catch up, and that nothing extra needed to be done.

Since Henry has started pre-school, his teacher has let us know on multiple occasions that he’s behind on his motor skills. He has trouble writing, cutting and other fine motor skill tasks. She has also reported that he gets tired very easily doing these tasks, despite the fact that they don’t work on it for long periods of time.

With all of that information whirling in my brain I decided to call Henry’s pediatrician to get his opinion on the matter. I called the office and was directed to their nurse help line. I chatted with her for a few minutes, giving her all the information listed above and I have an appointment in a week and a half to go over his motor skills, talk about getting him formally assessed, and seeing if this is something that he’ll simply outgrow, or if he needs a little bit of extra help from an OT.

Crawling

Henry has been doing so well with his physical therapy, and he’s leaps and bounds above where he was two months ago.

The biggest issues are that he has weakness in his hips, abdominal muscles and and legs.  So, to counter act that we have several tools at our disposal to help strengthen him.
One of the big ones are the “hip huggers” that Henry wears – I’m mentioned these before, they’re the spanx type of garment, but they have the knees sewn together.  This forces Henry to keep his knees together and to use a sideways twisting motion to get in and out of crawling position.  Henry does really well with them most of the time.  He spends at least an hour in them a day, sometimes more, sometimes less if he’s unusually cranky.  It’s now really easy to notice how far apart his legs are when he’s crawling and he’s not wearing them.  This is slowly getting better.  He’s starting to spend more and more time on his knees and actually crawling than he was before, it’s getting marginally better everyday.
Henry in his "spanx"

Henry in his “spanx”

We have several exercises to strengthen his core.  We put him on a yoga ball and hold onto his legs or hips and roll him frontwards, backwards and side to side so that he has engage his core to remain upright.  We also bounce him on the ball which he seems to enjoy now.  We also do a type of sit up with him on the yoga ball.  We roll him backwards until he’s on his back on the ball, and then bend him to one side and have him try to sit up on his own.  He’s allowed to put a hand down to help him sit up, and he can do this really well on his right side, but we haven’t been able to get him to do it on his left side yet – not sure why.  Another exercise is to put him on a stool with no back and to put toys on the floor in front of him and have him lean forward to pick them up.  Also, any time that we can get him on his knees to play with objects is good, especially when we can get him to reach for objects while on his knees, so he’ll either be on both knees and a hand, or just both knees.
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One main problem that we’re having is that Henry wants to be pulling up and cruising, and not spending so much time on the floor learning to crawl.  His physical therapist was surprised that he’s cruising and pulling up now, she thinks it’s great that he has the strength to do so, but she still really wants him to spend more time crawling.  She said that there are studies that show that children who didn’t crawl, or didn’t crawl for long are more likely to have problems/issues later on in childhood.  Crawling helps strengthen the arm muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as upper back muscles – which are all needed to facilitate handwriting.  Meaning that children who don’t crawl could have issues learning to write.  She also mentioned that there studies now that link not crawling and ADD and ADHD.  So, it’s important to really get Henry to crawl before he graduates to walking full time.
 All in all, he’s doing great, and making improvements.  I also think that we’re lucky that his issues are mild and that he won’t be in physical therapy for too much longer.

Month 12

Dear Henry,

Baby, you’re now a year old! I can officially now use the phrase “remember that time a year ago,” and have it apply to you! I can’t believe you’re a year old. It makes me so incredibly proud and sad at the same time. Proud that you’re growing and developing, learning and flourishing. Sad because you’re no longer the itty bitty baby that we brought home from the hospital, and that time we’ll never get back.
You and me in the hospital the day after you were born

You and me in the hospital the day after you were born

You have turned into one awesome little boy. You can blow kisses and raspberries, give high 5’s and hugs and kisses. You like to play patty cake, you’re interested in taking things apart and trying to put them back together (you haven’t quite mastered that part yet, but you’ll get there!). You’re so interactive! I have so much fun playing with you. The other day you were playing quietly by yourself for a bit, and I looked over at you and couldn’t tell what you were playing with. On closer inspection I saw that you had found some of my makeup – black liquid eyeliner to be exact….and you decided to get it EVERYWHERE!
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You’re also getting all over the house now. You belly crawl all through the house. You love to play in the dog’s water bowl (and I’ve even caught you drinking out of it a few times – it doesn’t matter if I give you a sippy cup full of water, you’ll still go for a sip at the dog bowl….). You’re investigating everything. The other day you got yourself up onto the fire place to check that out. You’ll make it from one end of the house to the other, and you’ll leave a trail of things that you pull out a long the way, or things that you’ll bring with you to later leave behind. You pull the books off of the bottom bookshelf, you’ll drag along cat and dog toys, and you’ll take your toys with you too from room to room. I like to let you explore on your own. I’ll check on you a lot, or trail behind you, but I love love love the fact that you’re getting more and more mobile everyday.
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You’re learning to communicate more and more. You’ve learned to sign for “more” and “milk,” and you’re starting to put together that when you sign for it, that you get what you signed for. You’ve also started saying a few words. You can say Mom (pronounced in a weird combination of mem and mam) and Dad (pronounced Dat or A-da). You can also say “no” and “up” (pronounced hup-ha).
Happies when naked and carrying around the remote...you're such a boy!

Happiest when naked and carrying around the remote…you’re such a boy!

Your doing awesome at your physical therapy! You’re starting to get onto all fours way more, and for longer periods of time too! On Saturday, your Dad and I saw that you’re beginning to crawl. You’ll inch your legs and arms forward when you’re on all fours. That had me smiling from ear to ear. It won’t be long until you’re just zooming all over the house! You’re transition from in and out of all fours is going well too. You’re starting to get out of being in all fours by twisting yourself to the side. We do need to work more on twisting yourself to your side when you get in to that position. Your neck stretches are going ok. Some days you’ll tolerate them better than others. You and I have been practicing your balance and strengthening your core by placing you on a yoga ball. I’ll hold your hips and gently roll the ball in all directions so that you have to actively change your balance to stay up right. You’re getting pretty good at it too! You’ve come so far in such a short period of time. I’m immensely proud of your progress and how hard you try.
With all that muscle building that you're doing you still need to remain flexible

With all that muscle building that you’re doing you still need to remain flexible

Feeding you continues to be the easiest thing for us. You’ll generally eat anything we put in front of you. You still don’t like tomatoes, but you do try them from time to time before you’ll hurl them from your high chair. You love to play and explore with your food, and right now I’m inclined to let you. It means your Dad and I have to clean you up a lot, but so be it. Some days you eat way more than other days, but I really do try to go by you hunger cues. I let you eat until your full, and if you don’t seem to be interested in eating, then we try again later. I’m trying really hard to never force feed you, and I don’t want to ever coax you into eating when you don’t want to. I’m hoping that this will creative a good relationship with food when you’re older.
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You’re still nursing like a champ. And, I hate that I have to do this, but I’ve been forced to start the weaning process, but don’t worry, it’s going to be a long process. Since I’m not allowed to take time out of the day to pump at work anymore, I’m now pumping once a day on my lunch break. I get about 8 ounces (or at least I am right now). I don’t know how long I’ll continue to do this for, but I know that you’re no where near ready to wean for good, and honestly, neither am I. So, I’ve had to start to cut back on my pumping, which also means that we’ll have to start cutting back on actual breastfeeding too. So, we’ll go from nursing 5 times a day to only 3. I have no idea how you’re going to take this, but we’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping that it won’t upset you too much. It upsets me more than I can say. I really have enjoyed nursing you. It’s always a quiet and relaxing time for both of us. Last night when I was nursing you before bed, we both fell asleep in the rocking chair. I think I was only asleep for about 30 minutes, but your Dad came in to check on us and said that we were both dead to the world. I love nursing you. I love the extra snuggles that it provides, especially now when you’re too busy playing a lot of the time to cuddle with your Mama.
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On your actual birthday we took you to the Zoo! I slathered you in sunscreen, plopped a sunhat on your head and we loaded you up in the stroller and walked around the Zoo for about 4 hours. Your Grandparents came, as did your Great Grandparents, your Uncle Matt came and the Kathleen, Eric and their daughter Addison came too. I think you had more fun watching Addison than you did looking at some of the animals. But, I do believe that you had a blast. You liked the seals, puffins and otters the best – at least from what I could tell. They were all moving the most and you would just point and smile. It was a really fun day. There was a carousel at the the Zoo, and I paid to take you on it, but you DID NOT like it. You sat on the elephant with your arms out shaking for the first rotation, and then hurled yourself at me after that and refused to let go. But, as soon as we got off of the carousel, you were looking back at it and pointing to it acting like you wanted to have another chance on it. We’ll try again sometime soon.
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Henry – this past year has been amazing and one of the best years of my life. You and your Dad are my reasons for everything. You have truly changed my life for the better. You make me laugh and smile everyday. You give cuddles and hugs like no one else. The way you smile when you see me always melts my heart. I’m thrilled that you came into our lives and changed everything for the better. I make it a point to tell you multiple times a day that I love you, and I hope that you can feel my love and know that I’ll always be there for you, that I’ll always love you, that I only want for you to be happy in life. You’re my baby, my reason and my love.
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Keep growing!
Love,
Mom

PT Session

Henry had his first physical therapy session on Friday. It went really well. It lasted about 40 minutes because Henry started to get tired and wasn’t as receptive to it anymore.

At first, Henry was very standoffish. He would just watch this new woman trying to interact with him. It took a solid 15 minutes for him to warm up to her. But, he did eventually start to play, move and interact with her.

She mentioned some things right off the bat. She asked if we ever noticed that Henry’s head is tilted. I told her no, I had never noticed. After watching him some more, she said that Henry has torticollis. She explained torticollis as having a shortened neck muscle on one side – causing the head to tilt. She said that children with this condition usually have a type of motor delay, because they hate tummy time. All of this was ringing bells like crazy.

So, to correct the torticollis (does this sound like a large Greek man to anyone else?) J and I have neck stretches that we’re supposed to do with Henry. We place our right hand on his left shoulder, and our left hand on his head and gently bend his head down, so that his right eat goes towards his right shoulder, and that stretches out the shorter muscle. We do this 2 or 3 times a day – twice at a time for 30 seconds at a time. Henry reacts to it as you would assume any baby would. He screams, and cries and looks at you like you’re torturing him, and tries to throw your hands off of him. Ahh, fun times. But, despite Henry’s best efforts to make us feel guilty and to stop with the child abuse, J and I have been dutiful about doing it.

The therapist also told us that we need to help Henry to spend some time on his knees. We have to get him up on all fours, and see if he’ll reach and grab at toys in front of him. He’s been really good about doing that. She did say that when Henry’s on his tummy that he keeps his legs really wide, and that’s why he’s having a hard time getting up on all fours – his knees are simply too far apart to make it easy. So, by getting him used to keeping his knees together, we’re strengthening muscles that need to be strengthened. She is also going to get him a pair of spandex pants that have the knees sewn together. My sister laughed at this and announced that my son is going to be wearing spanx….the funny thing is, it’s an apt description.

So, that’s what happened at this week’s physical therapy session. She did tell us that Henry has improved his motor skills since the last time he was assessed. He was at the 5 to 6 month mark when he was seen 6 weeks ago, and now he’s at the 7 to 8 month mark, so he’s making progress on his own, and hopefully now that we have some tools we can get him going even farther.

Physical Therapy

Henry’s first physical therapy session is tomorrow afternoon.

Henry’s come a long way since he had his original assessment, but he still has a ways to go before he’s actively mobile. His only way of moving at the moment is to army crawl everywhere (I’ll try to get it on video for you to see soon). He’s starting to get up on his knees, but won’t stay in that position for long. He’s been trying to pull up on things, and he’s been successful a few times, but nothing consistent. He’s also not cruising at all. So, I really think that physical therapy will help him get caught up.

I think that I’m going to take a half day off from work tomorrow so that I can be at this first session to see what it’s about and what we can do during the week between sessions.

I’m excited and hopeful for these. I know that Henry’s smart and will eventually figure all of this moving stuff out on his own, but I think it’ll be better for us all in the long run if we go the physical therapy route.