Isaiah discovered that there was a package in the mail meant for him. He brought it to me, bouncing and yelling. I helped him cut it open, then decided to pull out a camera because his excitement was so cute. Inside the package was a Starbright Baby giraffe that we’d ordered a while ago. Isaiah loves to chew on fabric, so I’d been looking for something appropriate for a while. This seemed the perfect solution. Isaiah agrees.
Isaiah has started riding Babe. He says it makes him a cowboy and is quite excited about it. His therapists are thrilled that he has access to a good horse to ride because it will help both with physical strength and some of his sensory issues. It does seem to be quite calming for him.
Babe is one of the horses that my friend rescued a couple of years ago. Last summer, she was finally healthy enough to start riding, so I rode her a bit then. Now that she’s entirely healthy and strong, she’s proving to have a lot of spunk, but her previous therapy training is really showing, too. She’s amazing with little kids and very calm.
When Isaiah rides, he has his own saddle, though it still doesn’t have short enough stirrups for him. He doesn’t get to use a bridle because he would tug on the reins all the time, so I just put a halter and leadrope on Babe for his rides. She happily walks along with him for as long as he wants to ride. He wears his helmet whenever he rides. The chances of him falling are very slim, but I believe it’s better to have him dressed properly and safe, just in case, than to be unprepared and pay for it.
After rides, Isaiah pets Babe, offers her grass and sometimes helps with grooming. He doesn’t always get to groom her because some days, he goes home with my mom while I take a turn riding. He loves every step of the process.
At Isaiah’s three year check up, I had the doctor look at his feet because they didn’t look right to me. He sent us to a physical therapist because Isaiah’s feet were affecting the way he walks and runs, which concerned his doctor. The physical therapist then sent us to an orthopedist to be fitted for SMOs. It was quite the little adventure.
The orthopedist determined that Isaiah has over pronation, meaning his ankles are curved, so that he walks on the insides of his feet. It is related to his previous diagnosis of hypertonia because hypertonia causes muscle weakness. When the muscles in the ankles are weak, it curves inward. For now, it just affects his balance, but if it’s left alone, it can cause chronic pain in several places and permanent damage to his legs. He fitted Isaiah for the SMOs, then we had to wait.
We got a call a few days ago that the SMOs were ready, so we set up an appointment to pick them up today. Isaiah was pretty excited about it because Azalea has SMOs, too, and the orthopedist had said he could get a Mickey Mouse print on them. He could hardly wait to get to the appointment!
We went to the appointment and got the SMOs. The orthopedist made sure everything fit just right and showed me how to put them on him properly. For the first few days, Isaiah is only supposed to wear them for a few hours so he can get used to wearing them over time. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to take them off when it was time. He’d forgotten they were there, until I went to take them off. Then it was a horrible crime to take his new treasures away.
Isaiah had an OT and PT appointment after he got the SMOs. The PT worked with him to see how he was doing with the SMOs and had him work on some jumping and obstacle courses. Both therapists said he did a wonderful job, though wearing the SMOs slowed him down a little because it shifted his balance.
After the therapy appointments, we stopped by to visit Azalea and her family for a little while. Isaiah was so excited to show them the SMOs. He wanted everyone to know that he had the same thing as Azalea. When we walked in the door, he promptly plopped down on the floor and took his shoes off so everyone could see. I’m glad he’s so excited about them.
We went to the zoo this week. Isaiah was very excited and opted to go to the jungle to “see the monkeys” this visit. He hasn’t been to the jungle since he was tiny, so it was a new experience for him.
When we first walked into the jungle, we were greeted by a very loud gibbon. He made all kinds of awful noise and made Isaiah a little nervous. Then we spotted a mom with babies nearby and Isaiah was pretty thoroughly taken with them. That made it easier to stick around and see the animals. We talked to a zoo keeper a little later who said the babies we saw are twins and about a year old. Isaiah was especially excited when one settled in to nurse.
We spotted some more baby monkeys further into the jungle, along with a hippo. I’m not sure which Isaiah liked more. He was pretty thrilled about both. The mama monkey wasn’t sitting still because another monkey was trying to mess with her baby, which made it harder to keep track of the baby.
In the next area, we found macaws. Isaiah pulled out his zoo map and used it as a camera to take pictures because the macaws were pretty. There were giant fish in the water below, too. Isaiah wanted to get closer, but there really isn’t a way to. Then, while I was trying to take a picture, a big bird flew right over my head. Isaiah thought it was so funny! We chased it down and took a few pictures of it before moving on to the next.
After a busy morning at the zoo, we spent some time visiting my grandmother. Isaiah loves going to visit his Great Gram and couldn’t wait to get there. When we got to her house, he brought her to the couch and settled in with the book app on my iPad to read with her. They had lots of fun together. Isaiah certainly didn’t want to leave when it was time to go home. He begged to stay, but suddenly realized that staying meant being there without me and decided he should come home.
Isaiah started his occupational therapy today. He was shy and nervous, but mostly happy to try the activities the therapist asked him to do. Right now, they’re working on some sensory integration and fine motor skills. Isaiah seems to think it’s pretty fun.
Isaiah wasn’t entirely sure what he thought of playing with shaving cream. It bothered him enough that he was constantly asking to wipe his hands. After a while, he decided he could smear it on the table, but still didn’t want it on his hands for more than a few seconds.
Isaiah did like the “flarp“. It’s similar to the silly putty that he begs to play with, so it was a somewhat familiar toy. He would have played with it all day if that had been an option.
Isaiah has had various struggles in his life. I started wondering if there was something more than typical baby/toddler issues around his first birthday. He was evaluated by Early Intervention at 14 months, then again at his second birthday. The first time, they pretty much ignored my concerns (complete loss of language, when he’d been saying more than a dozen words consistently from 10-12 months). The second time, the occupational therapist who evaluated him said that she thought he would benefit from some sort of therapy, but he was not “severe enough” to qualify for their services. I searched for other places for him to receive occupational therapy (OT), but was having no luck, until my aunt pulled Azalea from Early Intervention and enrolled her in a private therapy center two hours from where I live.
I took Isaiah to the therapy center for evaluations in speech and occupational therapy. He missed qualifying for speech by two points. The therapist said to bring him back around his birthday to be reevaluated because part of the problem he had was the way the test is performed. The test is trying to determine whether he can produce sounds and his mimicry is nearly flawless. When he’s a little older, he’ll likely get a more accurate result and, if he’s still talking the same way he is now, will most definitely qualify.
Isaiah did, however, qualify for occupational therapy, which begins in October. The therapist who evaluated him gave him the diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and low muscle tone. One of their therapists will be working with him once a week to help improve those areas.
I know that probably sounds odd. Lots of people swaddle their newborns. I swaddled Isaiah for the first month or so, but he was never really a fan of it. Isaiah has always liked sleeping on his tummy, so swaddling wasn’t the best plan for him once he started doing that. He slept fairly well, so I didn’t think about it one way or the other.
Now, fast forward to now. Isaiah struggles with sensory overload sometimes. When he gets too much stimulation, he either melts down and can’t function at all or he goes totally crazy; running, swinging his arms, shrieking… In both situations, he seems to have little to no control over his own actions. It’s very difficult for him to calm down once he’s overloaded. I talked to an occupational therapist about his sensory overload and she suggested that swaddling might help him to regain control and calm down. I wasn’t too sure about it because the last few times I’ve tried to wrap him in a blanket–or even cover him with one–he panicked.
Tonight, Isaiah was getting overtired while I was trying to get him ready for bed after a very busy day. He started running through the house–yelling, climbing on things and generally being wild. When I brought him to his room, he wasn’t able to lie still long enough to nurse to sleep. He sat on his bed, screaming and swinging his arms and legs. He was so upset and I wanted desperately to help him, so I decided that we needed to try swaddling. I wrapped him tightly in a lightweight blanket and held him while he nursed. At first, he kept his legs bouncing in the blanket, but soon, he was completely still and relaxed. I was able to put him down on his bed and he’s been sleeping soundly ever since. It helped him so much! Being swaddled in the blanket gave him the little bit of help he needed to be able to stay still while he nursed to relax. I will most definitely be using this technique again when he gets overstimulated!
Update, May 31, 2011:
Isaiah has asked to be swaddled the last two nights. He brings me the blanket and announces “yeah, yeah” while nodding his head emphatically. Once I spread the blanket out, he lies down on it for me. He’s not very still while I do it because while I’m putting one corner around him, he’s trying to pull the other corner up because that side of his body is still uncovered! Tonight, before he asked to be swaddled, he showed me his baby and its blanket and wanted the baby swaddled. Now they’re sleeping together on his bed, each swaddled in their own blankets.