Successful Day of Therapies

Today I took Liam to speech therapy and occupational therapy. We go every week and he spends an hour with each teacher back-to-back. Last week he had a hard time focusing for 2 hours straight, most likely from just being away due to the holidays. Today he was much more focused and really showed off his skills! We have speech the first hour and he impressed Ms. Molly with all of his sign language. She read a few books with him and he would point to something on the page and then do the sign. He has been doing that for a while now but just recently his signing vocabulary has really taken off! He seems to be so proud of himself because he smiles every single time he does a sign or imitates Ms. Molly. It’s too cute! He REALLY loves books and could sit and read them all day long!

Within the last week he has begun to imitate many different sounds which is very exciting for me! For example, I was reading a book to him yesterday that had a picture of a snake on a page and I said, “Liam, look at the sssssssnake”. And he went, “ssssss” right back to me with a smile on his face of course. He also says “ba” when I ask him what a sheep says, “ooo” for a cow, and “ufff” for woof. Those are just a few of the sounds he is confident in. The speech therapist told me about a helpful resource for children with Down syndrome entitled, See and Learn Language and Reading. She also sent me to the website Up For Reading for helpful tips on teaching children with Down syndrome to learn to read at an early age. I am going to try and get the starter kit from the See and Learn site and start that with Liam! Karis will benefit as well!

Oh and just for the record… he did well for the most part at OT today! He is pushing and pulling all the things she gave him to do and is really starting to master a particular puzzle with animals and their sounds! But that is another blog altogether.

I’m very grateful for the many resources we have and all the wonderful therapists we have access to! I really enjoy the challenge of learning how to best work with Liam. What a gift he is!

1 year update

Here is a developmental update on Liam. At his one year appointment he weighed 23 lbs. 3 oz. and 30.5 inches long! Our pediatrician is still using the typical developing child’s chart instead of a DS chart, because he is doing so well growth wise. For height he is in the 80th percentile and for weight he is in the 55th percentile! I’m so proud! He is such a big boy!! However his head circumference falls in the 5th percentile which is typical for DS. They checked his vision at his appointment too and it came back within normal range and they’ll recheck it every year to make sure… I’m so thankful for this result!!

Physical Therapy update – Liam will get on all fours and rock and make a tiny attempt to crawl, maybe 2 movements forward. He’ll move his hands forward and then usually either move to sitting or just fall on his belly;). He moves from laying on the floor to the sitting position really well! He often gets on his hands and knees and then up on his toes… it’s pretty cute! He loves to stand so right now we are working on cruising. He’s still a bit slow at it but will move his feet with a little guidance and will sometimes do it on his own. He also of course LOVES to bounce! His DS allows him super flexibility… I mean he can do the splits and lean all the way forward. So we have a little hip band that I put on him throughout the day that helps him keep his legs from sitting too far apart when he is playing; they are called at-a-bands. He does a good job playing on his knees but prefers to stand… and he can pull to stand from sitting or kneeling pretty well as long as he can get a good grip and I’m behind him to catch him in case he falls because he’s still a bit wobbly. He stands up in his crib now… as of two days ago and I think he’s pretty proud of himself. The first time I went in to get him and saw him standing he gave me a big smile and started bouncing;). For a while I was pretty emotional about him not crawling yet, but at this point I am thankful that he’s not getting into everything while I’m getting bigger and heavier these days!! I’m so proud of him and he’s so fun to watch just make his way around a room to get to his toys. He’s a pretty content happy little guy with his toys!

We are going to have a speech evaluation done on him in the beginning of January and hopefully begin speech therapy shortly after. He has just recently (the week he turned 1) started to become talkative and saying ba ba, blah, blah, da da, and some other consonant that I don’t think is in our alphabet;). It’s sure fun to listen to him now!! I have been using some sign language with him for a while and he understands a hand full of it. He knows what these signs mean – eat, juice, up, all done, and milk. He doesn’t do them back to me yet. The only one I think he does sign is momma… not completely sure, but I think so! He is also a good waver and knows when I wave to him and say ‘hi’ he usually waves back… so cute!!! He loves to wave and often gets carried away staring at his waving hand!

He also holds his own bottle now when he drinks! I’ve been working on it with him for a while now so it’s so good to watch him do it all by himself. He does need a little refocusing once in a while but for the most part he has it down as long as I’m holding him and he’s not too distracted;). He also drinks juice out of his sippy cup all by himself. It’s time to start weaning him from the bottle and onto a cup… we’ll see how that goes. I’ve tried a couple different kinds and he’s just not interested yet.

His gross motor skills are great and his fine motor skills are pretty good. His pincer grasp is still a work in progress… like he can’t quite grab a puff (if you have little kids you know what this is) off his tray yet with his pincer… but can every once in a while with the raking motion. If it’s something bigger like a banana or carrot he can handle that. He has such a great Early Intervention teacher who has been helping me work with him on his OT. Right now we are working on dropping a toy with purpose. He can pick them up well and bang two toys together and pull toys out of a container, but he won’t put them back in yet.

Oh and he is teething! He got his first tooth on December 10th and has been working on the second one that should pop through any day now. The one he has is on his lower left side, front tooth. It’s so cute and a bit crooked;). Because of this it’s been a rough last week and we are ready for daddy to come home. How come he’s gone when sleepless nights happen… interesting timing;)!

I can probably put down a whole lot more but it’s time for my nap… because it’s time for his;)! I live for his naps these days! Baby sister is going to be here before we know it!

Speech and Communication Points

Last week Jeremy and I attended the Down Syndrome Association of Middle TN conference called “Fired Up”. We sat in on 2 seminars; Speech and Communication from Birth to Two, and one on Medical Updates. Here are some points I learned in the speech class:

  • Speech therapy can start as early as 8 months of age.
  • Start to teach baby sign language when the child can wave bye-bye.
  • First 2 signs to teach them are ‘more’ and ‘finished’, to give them a sense of empowerment.
  • Bring awareness to an object and make it pop out of the environment – more colorful, funnier, louder etc.
  • Use a swivel chair to work on sound localization. This helps them learn to hear something and know where it comes from.
  • Keep them attending to an object longer, and talk about the object.
  • Use bubbles for visual tracking. Help them learn to pop the bubbles.
  • Teach cause and effect by helping them switch the lights on and off.
  • You cannot do too much work on oral motor skills.
  • Begin using a pacing board (definition below) while they are in the one word stage.
  • DS children generally start speaking between 3 & 4 years of age.

I’ll post about what I learned in the Medical Updates seminar later… I’m tired and ready to get some much needed sleep!

A pacing board consists of a series of dots (either black dots or color coded dots related to intial, medial, and final sounds) placed across a cardboard sheet. Depending upon the age and need of the child, there may be as few as three or as many as 10 dots placed across the board. The professional uses the board to help the child identify and produce initial and final sounds of simple words, syllables from bi-syllable and trisyllable words, and later the production of different words from simple and complex sentences. For example, the child is taught to touch a dot each time he or she says a syllable in a multisyllabic word. The advantage of the pacing board is that it provides both a visual and a tactile cue. It also provides the child with structure and the necessary pacing for proper articulatory movements of sounds, syllables, and words in sentences.