Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gross motor update (and glasses)

Olivia is doing so much better at getting to standing these days. She can pull up in her crib with ease (but no cruising yet). In fact, she can pull up to standing just about anywhere she wants to these days!  This week she mastered holding my hands and pulling to standing. She is loving this, and we do it a million times a day!  (yes, I have counted! :-)  )   She is still not taking steps, but is interested in taking climbing steps on me.  I am trying to interest her in the main staircase, but no interest so far.

The other thing of note is that Olivia has been working on creeping on all fours for about a month now and can creep on all fours for two feet before her hips give out from under her.

She seems thrilled by her new abilities and is all about practicing her gross motor skills these days. The cats look at me as if to say, "what happened to the kid who just sat there and left us alone?" Yet the cats still love her and are very interested in her. We think our youngest cat will be thrilled when Olivia is able to carry her around.  She is a sweet cat who loves kids and is very tolerant.

Glasses???? Yes.... someday.......patience is a virtue.....  Olivia loves the girls at my eye doctor's office...  they are just down the road from us, so they save us when Olivia needs her glasses fixed. Olivia communicates beautifully with them and always blows them kisses bye-bye.

Olivia is back to being a people lover, just in time for Summer!   She is also loving to have the shower nozzle spray her face gently, again, just in time for Summer splashing in the Lakes!

Oh... Olivia outgrew her PJ bottoms while she slept.  I could not believe it. She went to bed with them fitting nicely in the length and woke with them too short.  Can you say basketball player?!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sign Language - Why we use it

I found this a good explanation of why we use sign language with Olivia in addition to speech:

Confessions of a Montessori Mom: Montessori and Sign Language Question: "If Dr. Maria Montessori were alive, would she suggest sign language? I used to ask myself that question a lot! I do not think she would be..."

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Good Samaritan Reflection

Recently, I have been rereading Pope John Paul II's encyclical on the Meaning of Human Suffering.  As I read the following passage, I thought about the many people we have met who have adopted older children with Down syndrome from Eastern European orphanages and other poor institutions. These children with Ds did not stand a chance and had already suffered greatly from a lack of care. These brave and loving families stopped by the side of the road, spared all they have, and take action with all their life to give these children  meaningful lives.  So many of these families adopt more than one child from these institutions and give up so much financial security and take on the unknown medically and otherwise with these children. This passage it a tribute to these Good Samaritan's who do not pass by or throw a rug over the suffering of others, but are like Simon of Cyrene and willingly take up the cross of Christ and walk their entire life with the Love of Jesus, no matter the price.  (I think this applies to families who raise their own children with disabilities and to foster parents etc, but for some reason the international Ds adoption situation really came to mind)  As we celebrate St Joseph Day tomorrow, let us ponder the care of our neighbor that Christians are all called to fulfill.

"The parable of the Good Samaritan belongs to the Gospel of suffering. For it indicates what the relationship of each of us must be towards our suffering neighbour. We are not allowed to "pass by on the other side" indifferently; we must "stop" beside him. Everyone who stops beside the suffering of another person, whatever form it may take, is a Good Samaritan. This stopping does not mean curiosity but availability. It is like the opening of a certain interior disposition of the heart, which also has an emotional expression of its own. The name "Good Samaritan" fits every individual who is sensitive to the sufferings of others, who "is moved" by the misfortune of another. If Christ, who knows the interior of man, emphasizes this compassion, this means that it is important for our whole attitude to others' suffering. Therefore one must cultivate this sensitivity of heart, which bears witness to compassion towards a suffering person. Some times this compassion remains the only or principal expression of our love for and solidarity with the sufferer.
Nevertheless, the Good Samaritan of Christ's parable does not stop at sympathy and compassion alone. They become for him an incentive to actions aimed at bringing help to the injured man. In a word, then, a Good Samaritan is one who brings help in suffering, whatever its nature may be. Help which is, as far as possible, effective. He puts his whole heart into it, nor does he spare material means. We can say that he gives himself, his very "I", opening this "I" to the other person. Here we touch upon one of the key-points of all Christian anthropology. Man cannot "fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself"(92). A Good Samaritan is the person capable of exactly such a gift of self.
29. Following the parable of the Gospel, we could say that suffering, which is present under so many different forms in our human world, is also present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one's "I" on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love which stirs in his heart and actions. The person who is a " neighbour" cannot indifferently pass by the suffering of another: this in the name of fundamental human solidarity, still more in the name of love of neighbour. He must "stop", "sympathize", just like the Samaritan of the Gospel parable. The parable in itself expresses a deeply Christian truth, but one that at the same time is very universally human. It is not without reason that, also in ordinary speech, any activity on behalf of the suffering and needy is called "Good Samaritan" work."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wearing glasses

Here is our one week update on Olivia wearing glasses. A little progress, but it is a slow process getting her used to them. She likes how she can see, she just doesn't like how they feel on her face yet.

Stringing Beads

We have been taking the Sensory Processing Disorder approach to Olivia for over a month now and we are seeing wonderful results.  All of the bean throwing, rocking horse, car riding, messy play, ball pools, ball tent, throwing balls, playing on big balls, climbing, bouncing, dancing etc has paid off!  Olivia has become much more focused and calm and able to concentrate and work on her quiet fine motor activities, and she can do so without Barney music playing in the background! 

 It brings tears to my eyes to sit in the background and watch her quietly work on stacking rings or a simply puzzle, over and over again and with great concentration!  This is what Montessori teachers love to see! Repetition and concentration!  Good signs! I thought I would never see it in Olivia. But thanks to doing all the "crazy" stuff, and using crazy Fisher Price toys too! We have seen amazing progress. 

 As I was buying Fisher Price type toys this Fall and Winter because all my "Montessori" type ideas were not reaching Olivia, I cringed. But I knew I had to do what my child needed.  Now I am seeing the benefit of "sitting on my Montessori albums" and doing it another way.  I did go back and read some Montessori theory. So I went about being a Scientist, studying Olivia and following what I believed Olivia needed.  What Olivia needed looked nothing like what I had ever done in a Montessori setting, but it worked and now we are getting to the sort of activities I had hoped to see Olivia doing. So in some ways, my "Montessori meets Fisher Price" activities was very Montessori in theory, which was my belief all along.  No matter and theories aside, what matters is what is right for Olivia!

Here is Olivia stringing beads. She still needs help holding the stick, but other than that she is doing such  beautiful work it brings tears to my Montessori trained eyes.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ball Pit Tent

We noticed that using the baby pool for a ball pool had its potential for some dangerous mishaps. So we switched to this ball tent.  It is much safer.  Yesterday was the first day with the tent.  True to form, Olivia hesitated to enter, but when Mom climbed in Olivia was ready for action.  There are 200 balls, and Olivia sat in her ball tent and proceeded to throw all 200 balls out of tent one at a time.  It is the Process not the Product at this age. Olivia threw each ball out with two hands, them proceeds to wave or flap both hands after every throw. It was exhausting just watching her.  She did this toward the end of the day, and she fell asleep very easily last night.  

We have had much less, in fact practically no, trouble with Olivia throwing toys since we have been using the ball pool. I think giving her an acceptable activity in which she can throw to her heart's content has been what has helped.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Answer!

So what did you guess? Would Olivia eat the collards or the bananas first? …. The answer is YES.  She asked for collards, then asked for bananas, then asked for collards, etc.  I guess she loves collards and bananas equally. It wasn’t clear there was a strong preference for one over the other.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bananas or Collards- Take a Guess!

This post was written by Daddy.  Thanks Peter!

For a toddler (who doesn’t yet toddle), Olivia is a very good eater and is willing to eat a wide variety of foods. 

Olivia will eat peaches, pears, mandarin oranges, mango, pineapple, strawberries, prunes, carrots, squash, yams, cranberries, green beans, peas, lentils, pinto beans, daikon radish, rutabaga, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, rice, and rice chex.   Olivia will go crazy for collards and bonkers for bananas.  The girl loves her veggies and fruits!!!  

 When eating, Olivia has strong opinions about the order in which she eats her foods.  She insists on eating all of her favorite thing, then will eat all of her next favorite thing, etc.  As parents, we are pleased that in the end, she usually eats everything on her plate.  

Given she loves collards and bananas, we thought it would be fun to put both on her plate and she which one she ate first.  
What is your guess? 
 Check back tomorrow, for the answer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Friend the Potty Seat

As Olivia approaches her Second Birthday, we have been thinking about potty training one day.  Of course, Olivia is not yet walking, so that puts a wrench in the plans, but we feel that it is not too soon to explore the idea of potty seats with Olivia.  So we have brought this small seat out of the closet and let Olivia start sitting on it.  She enjoys sitting on it fully clothed and looking at her books.  Next step will be to see what she thinks of sitting on it with nothing on her tush.   But we certainly have time.  We are also getting ready to have her in cloth diapers (at least sometimes) so that she really gets a chance to feel wet.  I think the Tushies disposables give her that WET feel. But I believe that cloth would give even more WET feel.  Olivia already tells me when she has poop in her diaper.  I see that is a good sign.  She signs diaper and then looks at me and says POO.   (At first I thought she meant Winnie the Pooh, but I learned differently.)  She also looks at the bear on her potty seat and make her bear sound (her sort of growling sound that she imitates us doing).

Olivia is not in Speech Therapy, but when we are at therapy she always seeks out the speech therapist who once did a swallow study on Olivia. We decided that Olivia is the stray cat. Once you feed her she will always follow you.  The nice thing is that Olivia keeps interacting with the ST and we keep hearing from the ST how well Olivia is doing.

The other thing that is neat at therapy these days is that Olivia has taken to a little 8 year old non-verbal girl confined to a wheel chair.  Olivia will always crawl into the room where this girl is having ST.  Olivia greets the little girl, and the two girls smile lovingly at each other. It is so heartwarming to see Olivia always put a big smile on this girl's face.  There have been times when this little girl is doing really demanding physical therapy and Olivia goes up to her and gets her to smile and take her mind off of her therapy and do better.  These are the moments that strengthen us through the tough times!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Glasses- Second Day at Home

 These pictures pretty much tell you the entire story.  

 Olivia does seem to like seeing her books. Her eyes get wide and relaxed and her face sports a contented grin. Then she realizes there is something on her face, and off the glasses go!  

 Peter also sat with her on the floor with the television at at distance to watch WNDU Sunday morning news.  In the past, Olivia would like the idea of turning on the TV, but quickly lose interest, most likely because she was not seeing the picture well.  Today, she sat there mesmerized!  Absolutely wide eyed and with a very relaxed contented look on her face.  I can see her getting addicted to Barney like so many kids with Down syndrome.  (or perhaps she gets addicted to Winnie the Pooh DVDs.  She has a Pooh mobile over her crib and she has recently become a very big Pooh fan outside of her crib. Peter put the glasses on Pooh, and that really broke the ice on the glasses.  Today, Olivia gave Pooh a chance once again to wear her glasses.

And with a little pout!

This is my favorite photo!

One last note:  Yesterday, Olivia turned 22 months.  To celebrate, she pulled to standing repeatedly in her crib (while barefoot) for the first time, and returned to sitting with grace!  The day before, she pulled to standing at the bathtub and also inside the bathtub.  Yes! Dangerous! And I have the sore back to show for her bathtub standing.  I am also thinking of wearing a wet suit for her baths, as she likes to throw all of her toys out and me, and also likes to try to climb out onto me.  Peter picked up some Vtech or Leap Frog lights and flashes type bath toys thinking that if she had something super exciting in her tub, then maybe she would give her old mom a break and stay put in her bathtub.  Oh the excitement!  Lots of challenges and lots of keeping a sense of humor.  This too shall pass.  One day  I will have lots of stories to tell our adult Olivia about all of her antics as a child!

Friday, March 4, 2011

First Photo of Eyeglasses for Olivia

Here is our first photo of Olivia in her first pair of glasses.  You can see that she is a bit perplexed.  This photo was taken while we were still at the eye doctor. Peter was holding Olivia on his lap and holding her arms down.  She was not fighting, but was a bit confused.  If he let go of her arms, the glasses went sailing through the air!  When the technician showed Olivia herself in the mirror, Olivia studied herself and seemed pleased.

We also noticed that Olivia was looking for me when I was taking a movie, and was at first upset that she could not find me, but then she made eye contact with me from a distance and soothed right away at a distance. For some time now, I had noticed that if I was a distance from Olivia, she would not soothe until I got right up to her.

 I cannot wait to see how she takes to her glasses tomorrow when we can try her looking at her books at home with her glasses on.  Recently, she has needed her books so close to her face that she is only interested in them when we are with her so that we can hold them close to her face.

It may be sometime before Olivia wears her glasses full time, but just like everything in being Olivia's parents: Patience is the key to success!

Ball Pool

 Another new addition to Olivia's sensory program is her baby pool filled with 200 (phalate free) balls. She did not take to the ball pool right away, but today she was seeming to enjoy it more, especially throwing balls out of the pool!  I have to tell you that cleaning up after this sensory activity is so very much easier than cleaning up after the sensory box filled with rice and beans!  Someone asked why we do such sensory activities with Olivia. Because Olivia has Down syndrome her senses are not as integrated as a typical child's. Some sensations feel much more alarming than they should and some sensations don't register in her brain as easily as they would for a typical child.  Olivia's neurological and cognitive connections are not operating as they should.  Although we can never completely cure Olivia of this, through lots of intense sensory play, they have found that these kids' brains learn to make better neural connections.  

Typical children also need to have lots of sensory experiences.  The brain of a child is developing and children learn through their senses. Sensory activities help typical children's brains grow and develop also.  Think of good old fashioned childhood play:  sand box and finger paint.  Sensory experiences!

So although it may seem at times, as we share with you sensory experiences, that we are creating for Olivia, that we have lost our marbles, keep in mind that we are about the business of helping her brain and neurological system grown and develop as best we can.  If that takes 200 balls and a baby pool in our sunroom, then that is our new decorating scheme!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sensory Box

Olivia loves her sensory box now.  I posted originally, when we first introduced her box to her, that she protested the boxes existence!  Now she loves it!  The great effect of time spent playing with her box, is that it leaves her calm and focused! She has been doing so much better with so many things since we have instituted more purposeful sensory play and more hearty gross motor play!  I like what one book said about sensory processing disorder treatment.  It said that good old fashioned, get dirty, roll in the mud, get active play is just what these kids need!  Cannot wait to see her belly crawling all over the yard soon!