Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It ain't always easy.

About a month ago Luna had her Early Intervention Evaluation. Two women who work for the state came over with a big canvas bag of toys and played with Luna for about a 1/2 hour. The collection of toys was made-up of big wooden puzzles, square boxes where you push the bottom and something pops-up out of the top, and blocks. Luna played right along with them, and demonstrated nothing short of charming on the thinking end of the test. Each exercise illustrated an ability in a certain area. So, for the thinking tests Luna scored at 12 months.

The physical part of the test was another story.

The 'games' got a bit more deceptive and challenging as the session went on. The women then took the same toys Luna had been playing with, and put them just out of her reach. In one example we laid Luna on her back and placed a block parallel with her head-about an arm's length away. Luna just stared at the toy. She made no motion to roll over and grab it-what-so-ever. For this set of exercises Luna only scored at 5 months. Ouch, reality slap, and time for Physical Therapy.

So yesterday Hannah, Luna's new physical therapist, came to our door with armed with a big, blue yoga ball and a large canvas bag. Sienna, Luna, the therapist and I all packed into Luna's tiny room to begin the session. Luna hated every minute of it. She did not like at all the demanding physical positions we were asking of her tiny body.

Luna's biggest challenge is crawling. She gets around on her bum by scooting, which I thought was rather ingenious. But where Luna really struggles is with intermediate-type positions. So, if I put a toy on top of Sienna's pint-size table, Luna has trouble figuring out that she can pull herself up to retrieve the toy. Naturally, the fact that she had open heart surgery at 6 months-which is such a pivotal time for development-doesn't help her case. But there are other reasons why otherwise healthy kids are facing more delays. We as a society keep our babies on their tummies much less now-especially since it was ruled that putting a baby to sleep on her back decreases the chance of SIDS. And as Hannah, our physical therapist pointed out, developing upper body strength is directed related to speech development. Who knew! Basically we need to develop those neck and face muscles so we can make the many and varied sounds to create language-and a weak upper body will impede this.

When Hannah delivered that fascinating news my thoughts drifted to a home video of my father and and his brother as kids. My Uncle just recently took tons and tons of old reel to reels from the 40-60's and converted them to DVD. Every conceivable moment of their childhood is captured-starting with the day each baby boy comes home from the hospital. The old family movies are breathtaking, but what I found so interesting is how differently we raise our kids now. And not in the-obvious-modern-technology-way, but with little things too.

Each baby boy was bathed on his tummy in a canvas bath. Humans are born with an innate sense to lift their heads out of a dangerous situation-what better way I thought to pique that sense than with bathing a baby on his belly.

Another video clip shows my father-not even a mere one year old-drinking from a glass. The movie played though my mind as Hannah informed me that sippy cups require the same sucking action as a bottle-and thus again impede speech.

By the end of the session I was ready to ditch my plastic tub with the reclined back and sippy cups in favor of good ole fashioned glass & canvas gear. For now though we'll start with baby steps-literally.


Enos Family said...
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Mindi said...

Work it out girl. The first month is always the hardest :).

Drea said...

I found your blog through another heart families, like the previous post, I have a heart child too.
I am glad to see that your daughter is doing so well...

Drea (Heart mom to Hunter )

Melanie said...

This post was so helpful. We have a 12-month old who had an asymptomatic aortic leak, and surgery at seven months. Your description of Luna's upper body strength mirrors our Will's to a T, right down to the resistance to trying new positions (we've tried our own home version of PT). I've been raising this for a while, and at our 1-yr well check up our pediatrician agreed that it wasn't a bad idea to call early intervention. His evaluation is next week. Your post is helping me prepare.

Thanks for helping us get ready.

Melanie and Will, Arlington, MA

p.s. I was also interested to read the link between upper body strength and speech. Will actually has an amazing number of words (20 and counting) for his age.