Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wearing Baby and Sensory Integration Part 3

If you haven't read it yet, here's part 1 and part 2.

Wearing your baby can have therapeutic benefits, especially if your baby has sensory issues.  Baba is sensitive to vestibular (movement) input.  It's hard because he also craves movement at the same time.  It's crucial that he receives the input he needs without making him sick.

Why is this important?  Vestibular input helps to organize the brain.  I can visually see this effect when I put Baba down after I've worn him for at least 30 minutes.  He will be alert, but calm and observant.  He will usually be happy to play by himself and he often seems ready to learn something new.

Vestibular based treatment can be tricky, especially if your child is also sensitive to it.  Occupational Therapists who are trained in Sensory Integration Methods, may use a swing to provide vestibular stimulation.  The swing can be manipulated to give the right kind and the right amount of movement.  For example, is your child sensitive to side to side, back and forth, up and down, circular, or a combination of movements?

This can be complicated by having to read whether your child is getting too much or too little input.  Most children with sensory processing issues aren't able to tell when they've had enough or they need more.  That's why a trained therapist should work with your child first so that she/he can tell you how to work with your child.

Southpaw Enterprises (click on photo)

Of course, most of us don't have that amazing swing...the super expensive therapy set-up at home.  At most, we have a swing that goes back and forth.  You can still use that, but if your child hates the back and forth movement, you might have to wait until the therapist has helped your child tolerate the back and forth movement.

Southpaw Enterprises (click on photo)

This is why wearing your baby may be the cheapest and easiest vestibular based treatment.  Most babies are used to the rhythmic walking pattern of their mom.  It's what they experienced in-utero.  This is simply a continuation.

When we walk, we naturally sway side to side and slightly bounce up and  down.  The difference between using a swing and wearing your baby is that you provide a natural rhythm and comfort.  Your body provides warmth, deep touch, and a sense of love and well being.

So how long and how often did I walk Baba?  I aimed at 2-3 hours a day, up until he was 9 months.  By 9 months, he was crawling, standing, and generally on the move most of the time.  This reduced the need to be carried, since he was able to somewhat satisfy his own vestibular needs.

In very general terms, boys tend to need more movement than girls, however, every child has their own needs.  Usually, you can tell if you've worn your baby long enough by their reaction when you put them down.  If they look calm and relaxed, it's a good sign.  You also want to see if your baby has periods of alert, but calm states.  This is when most of the learning happens.  It's also a sign that their brain is organized and not in sensory need state.

What type of sling/carrier did I use?  Well, if your baby suffered a stroke there are some positioning things to consider.  That's coming up in part 4.

Read part 4 here!

A short time...

My baby just woke crying.  Whatever made him cry is still putting tears in his eyes.  My sister hands him over to me and I surround my arms around him.  I get off the bed, still holding all 25 and a half pounds, closely over my chest.

"It's okay, mommy's here.  Mommy's here"

He whimpers and settles in, putting his head on my chest.  It hurts me to hold him like this, but I can't think about that right now.  I continue to bounce him gently and smell his delicious hair.  It really smells so good!  My pain seems to fade and I feel love flooding into my chest.

I look out at our amazing view.  It's cloudy and cold today.  So different from the warm and sunny day yesterday.  But it's still an amazing view, one I'll miss when we move.  I try to soak it in.  

Baba looks up and stares at the view.  Does he see what I see?  I rest my head on his and we continue to look at the swarming city that seems so quiet today.  

I can't believe we've made it this far.  I can't believe how 10 months have passed in a blink.  How much longer do I have before he won't let me hold him like this?  He's already such an independent soul.  When will he feel too old to be comforted like this?  Do I have 2 more years?

I smell his hair again, drinking in his essence.  Yes, at least 2 more years.
 enjoying the view

Linked up to Just Write

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An abundance of love


Although I have experience working with kids, I never worked with babies.  This was my first time working with someone so young and it was really hard, though very rewarding.  

PICU with auntie

I started my career working with the elderly in skilled nursing facilities.  I worked with many who had suffered from a stroke.  It was always challenging because no two strokes are the same.  The brain is so complicated and you never can be sure of the outcome of therapy.

 1 month old-holding mommy's hand

However, I learned that the people with the family support made the most progress.  The elderly didn't always have family nearby or friends who were still living.  Sometimes, they were completely on their own.  But those who had family support felt more motivated to make progress.
2 months old-looking up at mom

I know that my son and I are fortunate to have each other.  How perfect that I could use my skills to help him.  Yet I know that it isn't my skills as a therapist that matter most.

 2.5 months old-looking dapper

The most important gift to a child with special needs is LOVE.  It's love that motivates them to practice a skill till they finally achieve it.  It's love that gives them wings, so that they can fly.  Of course therapy is important, but without love it would not be as effective.  

4 months old-listening to mommy

Love gives us the insight to see our children's personality, not their illness.  It gives us the courage to fight for their right to good therapy services, good education, and social acceptance.  Love helps us to persevere when it feels so much easier to give up.
almost 6 months old-looking at fountain with auntie

So take a moment to reflect how your love has empowered and brightened your children.  You may not have all the answers, but you have the most important thing...an abundance of love.

 almost 10 months old-trying not to touch auntie's computer

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Photolicious 2

Photography is one of my favorite things to do.  I have so much to learn, but that's what's fun!  Photolicious will be a place to display my photos, without many words.  It's my mommy time, so I'm going to try to make it non-baby...though I may sometimes indulge.

Have a lovely day!  I'd love to hear your comments!  Constructive criticism is welcome!

He calls me mom

 I finished writing part 3 of the baby wearing, sensory integration, and NDT series, complete with links and photos...but somehow lost it.  Blogger posted a blank page.  I don't know how it happened, but I'm so frustrated.  I guess blogging has a learning curve.  I'm posting this one because it was already written.  The other post took days to write.  Ugh!!

My son first called me "uhm-mah", when he was 4 months old.  I was kissing him and making the exaggerated kissing sounds, "um-muah".  He thought I was trying to get him to imitate me...I guess.  He started to frown, so I stopped.  Then with apparent stress and difficulty, he said "uhm-mah".  It just happens to mean mom in Korean.  Fortuitous?  Maybe.

From that point on, whenever he was distressed and wanted my attention immediately, he shouted "uhm-mah".  But I don't speak Korean to him.  It's not my first language.  So I continued to call myself "mommy".

Well one day, around month 6, I heard a very loud distressed, "maaaa  uhm".  From that point, he has called me mom.  Yup.  He calls me mom.  Sometimes, he calls me mom with all the angst and irritation of a teenager.

I try hard not to laugh, but sometimes it cracks me up.  He's intonations are spot on.  Especially, when he's upset, irritated, or bored.

The little guy is his own person.  He knows what he wants.  He won't usually compromise.  Though he's pretty good at walking away from something he's not allowed to do.  I think he figures he'll wait until I'm not paying attention.  So when it's suddenly very quiet, I know it's time to go looking for him.  He's probably trying to do something crazy.

In a way, I might savor these moments more because I didn't expect them.  When I found out he had suffered a stroke, I just assumed I wouldn't be suffering these antics until much later, if ever.  So I'm grateful...even though sometimes I'm flustered.

My son may have suffered a stroke, but he is like any other kid, he has personality...the good, the bad, and the ugly...like any other kid.

Friday, January 20, 2012

this moment

Joining SouleMama on <this moment>.  No words needed.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wearing baby and Sensory Integration--Part 2

Read Part 1 here!

Some babies are more likely to have sensory issues: premature babies, babies who suffered a stroke, and babies whose movement abilities have been affected by any illness.  Babies who spend a long time hospitalized may also be more prone to suffering sensory issues.

Before everybody freaks out and thinks their babies are all seriously ill, let me tell you a secret.  Almost everybody I know has some sensory sensitivity.  How many of you chew your pens?  How many of you prefer certain fabrics because they make you feel better?  How many of you tap your fingers or feet?

Being sensitive to sensory input is not the same as having serious sensory processing difficulties.  When someone has serious sensory processing issues, it affects their lives profoundly.  How we perceive the world through our senses, vastly affects our development and how we perceive the world around us.  When our senses are misfiring or our brain is scrambling what these senses are telling them, the world can be a frightening and uncomfortable place.

In babies, it affects their ability to reach milestones and the way they perceive the world.  As they grow up, it affects their success in school and even their social life.

So if your baby seems sensitive to sensory stimulus, but is developing on schedule, they don't need occupational therapy.  However, they may benefit from vestibular input, such as "wearing them", if they are sensitive and have difficulty being soothed in other ways.      

My philosophy on treatment is: "do whatever works".  If what you're doing works, proceed.  If what you're doing is not working, stop and re-evaluate.  If you're not sure and it doesn't seem harmful, continue a little longer, then re-evaluate.

If your baby is sensitive to sensory stimulation (i.e. gets fussy and isn't easily soothed, has a difficult time with noises, seems sensitive to light touch, gets overstimulated easily, etc.) and seems to be delayed in many areas, it's a time to let your pediatrician know.  He may refer you to an occupational therapist for an evaluation.  It's best to catch it early because the brain is much more malleable when your baby is a newborn.   

So what does all this have to do with wearing a baby?  Find out in part 3...coming soon...hopefully.

 Auntie wears Baba in a Balboa Sling

Read part 3 here!  And part 4 here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Photolicious Break

It's time to take a photolicious break! Enjoy!

All photos taken by me, while wearing Baba, on one of his naps!  So much easier than trying to get a baby to pose!


It seems like yesterday when he was still in PICU.  He seemed like an old soul.  He seemed to know things I didn't know.  He was so fragile, yet so strong.

A part of me was in denial.  A part of me was terrified.  How was I going to be a good mother?  How was I going to help him overcome the many difficulties ahead?

It seemed like I was barely able to take care of myself.  My life was far from perfect.  In fact, it was so far from perfect that I couldn't imagine what typical life looked like.

Yet I am responsible for his life.  I am responsible for his care.  I am responsible for his future.

He's made so much progress since then.  He is so much like any other kid.  Yet he is different.  His future is still uncertain.

I must not worry so much.  I must focus on the progress.  I must celebrate my son.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A moment to remember

SouleMama posted a picture of a moment, which brought tears of joy to my eyes.  I thought I would post a moment too.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fibromyalgia brain fog mess

I'm finally over my cold!  Yeah!  But...I still have a mild flare up (fibromyalgia)...boooo!  I wanted to write lots of helpful articles about treating a stroke, but I can't think straight.  Why?  Brain fog.  What's that, you say?  It's another symptom of fibromyalgia.  Yup!  My good friend does not disappoint.  Ugh!  

I open one of my many drafts, but I stare at the screen.  Sometimes, I attempt to write a few sentences, but they don't make sense.  It's harder because I have to write them in "layman's terms".  That means I have to define everything and attempt to explain myself in a way that would make sense to anybody, not just therapists.  

In person, I can easily adapt to the person I'm speaking to by reading their cues, but online I have to be clearer.  Otherwise, y'all will think I'm incompetent.  Or, at least that's what I think.  I guess it could be part of my perfectionism problem.  Sigh!  Aren't I supposed to be over this personality flaw by now?  I'm 39 years old!  Ugh!

The good news is that I've started to do the Masgutova Method with Baba again...with good results!  I was so sick, that we had to put this method on hold for 3 weeks!  I feel terrible, but it couldn't be helped.  It was just too hard.  He no longer wants to lay around while his mom "massages" him.  He's always on the go.  That means Auntie and I have to do crazy things to get all the reflexes done.
He's starting to cross crawl (on knees, rather than on his feet), which is good.  We still have a ways to go, but it's much harder now because he's used to bear crawling (on his feet). He's decided he wants to crawl that way, even when it's obviously harder on certain surfaces.

We are also working on developing his pincer grasp.  He finds it extremely frustrating that he can't pick up small objects.  He's not behind per typical charts, but it's obvious that he finds it frustrating.  Each child has their own developmental timeline and I believe Baba would be more advanced in his fine motor, if he hadn't suffered a stroke.  How do I know?  Mommy intuition, coupled with therapeutic observation.

If I don't help him develop his fine motor at his pace, he might get so frustrated that he'll give up.  This will adversely affect his motivation, making it harder to work on later.  It will also affect his self confidence, which will affect performance in other areas.

Baba suffered a stroke mainly in his frontal lobe, on his left side, though it also damaged part of his parietal lobe.  The frontal lobe controls executive functions (problem solving, memory, etc.).  It also can affect frustration tolerance, attention, and learning.  Many children with this type of injury may also develop emotional problems when they're older.  

The left parietal lobe houses the language centers.  It is my secret fear that he'll understand language, but won't be able to communicate his thoughts.  It's not the articulation part because with IPads, kids can now speak.  No.  The worst language problem is understanding everything, but not be able to communicate verbally, written, or sign.  In this type of problem, the person thinks he is clearly speaking, but it sounds like gibberish to everyone else.  They can't communicate in any medium.

It doesn't look like he has this issue, as he is perfectly able to use gestures and intonations to communicate now.  Yet I still have panic attacks that Baba has this communication problem.  Yes, I know it's crazy.  I know it's most likely not true...yet...  What can I say?  My mind seems to like drama.

Hopefully, my brain fog will clear soon, and I'll be able to finish writing "wearing baby, part 2" or any of the other 5 articles I've started, but can't seem to finish.  Perhaps I will have a posting spree when I finally finish the articles!

All the photos are from our day in the park, last weekend.  He really seemed to love it!  He's usually reticent, but this time he couldn't wait to explore.

The crazy kid tried to go down head first!  I guess he hasn't learned about heights yet! 

I think he wasn't happy that I was "helping" him.

We had so much fun!  The milestone of the day was trying to climb back up the slide.  Of course, he needed much help!  However, I thought we'd celebrate the attempt!