Therapy: Where We Are At Now

(Random, not part of this post update: Barry has been offered a job! He is stay at home dad no longer! Thank you to everyone who prayer with us through this time 🙂 10 months is a long time to wait for a position but we believe this is the perfect one!)

Ok, so I figured I would do a therapy update for those of you who are following along. 🙂 We just had a visit at the DS Clinic in Houston, which always makes me freak out because you have all these therapists that come in and evaluate Eli’s progress…I hate being evaluated. lol They are so wonderful there, but they won’t really count what I say Eli is doing, they are more interested in what they see. We were lucky to have a former OT who’s worked with Eli working at the clinic. So she knew what Eli had been doing (Hi T!!!)
Anyway, because no 2 year old will perform on command, Eli’s developmentally not showing where I think he actually is. I’m ok with this because we know how awesome he is and what he is doing already 🙂
We are so blessed to have an amazing team for Eli. They push and challenge him (and us!) in some amazing ways. 🙂 We love them!
Eli is 22 months old and this is what we are doing right now:

Standing Practice: We are working on building Eli’s strength to stand. He stands with his back against the wall, while Barry reads to him, he stands to watch his iPad which is proped up on the couch, he stands to reach for snacks or drinks, he stands to grab the desired toy off the table…etc. Just to build strength and encourage standing. It’s been a great way to encourage him plus he gets a work out. In PT we have been working on going from sitting to standing. He can do it, but he’s stubborn like usual. He will sit on Barry’s knee, and then have to push to stand to reach something. Out of complete frustration he will suddenly push up and stand just because he is angry. lol He’s done it several times without assistance but it’s hard for his little legs (I blame his father, who is the genetic carrier of “chicken leg”).
We also added his AFO’s. He’s been primarily using his SMO’s for stability, but now that he is trying to stand in the middle of the room, he is ready to use them. But…He HATES them. Like cries and cries when they are on hates them. He will get used to having them on and already, it has improved his walking and he’s getting more brave about standing independently. So proud of him! He’s getting so so close!! We are excited for him!

OT: In OT we have been doing a lot with fine motor. Picking things up, working in his mouth, touching new textures, matching shapes, following directions. I don’t have a video on this but he’s doing really well here!

SLP: You guys saw his last video spam, which included all the signs he is working with right now. This has been huge! He’s exploded with signs and we couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s so much easier to communicate with him and he is so proud of himself. We literally went from only signing one sign (ball), to over 35 signs! It feels like he added a new one every day for a while. We are also doing a lot of reading and mouth work. When we read, we hold the book close to our mouth so he can see the words we are saying. We also point at all the words as we read, or make sounds as they are appropriate. It’s been fun!
We let Eli watch Baby Signing Time once a day and he loves it. It’s one of his favorite things to do and the only show he will sit still to watch. He has started to sign with Rachel and even has favorite songs. 🙂
Signing has been huge for us, but we are doing other things too.
I just started PECs. I have a few things in the house that I need to put labels on, and I just printed all the kinder sight words on note cards.
We’ve introduced flash cards too. We got some at Christmas that are touch and feel with the word so Eli loves them.
We have really enjoyed ABC flashcards on our iPad too. Eli anticipates certain letters and gets excited when he sees his favorite symbols (like bird for b). Hehe it’s so cute.
We are doing mouth work too, which has helped greatly with brushing his teeth.

Now if all of this could translate to verbal talking! One thing at a time…I know it will come 🙂

Behavior: Eli’s understanding of language and directions is very strong. His desire to listen, not so much. I guess this is the “terrible two’s”, huh? He has started hitting with purpose when he is mad. He will look me right in the face, I mean straight in my eyes and hit me! When I tell him we don’t hit, or to use gentle hands his typical response is to laugh or hit me again.
I’m not sure if he understand time out yet…so we haven’t really enforced that. Plus I don’t really have a place to put him that won’t be automatically associated with being bad all the time, even though it’s not supposed to be a bad place lol
I’ve tried a tap on the hand and he doesn’t seem to get that either.
He even hits himself.
We’ve been working on “gentle hands” since before Ruby was born, but he’s decided he would rather slap Ruby on the forehead than listen to “gentle hands”…
We ignore the behavior when he hits himself or throws a tantrum. Often we just walk away and he will fix the behavior.
But the hitting with purpose doesn’t stop unless we redirect or remove him from the situation. Any suggestions on this one? I just asked on my FB but I thought I would ask here too lol
Otherwise, he’s a sweet, loving boy, just trying to express himself. It’s rough being two. 😉

Potty Training: No, we haven’t started yet. We aren’t crazy! He isn’t walking…so it doesn’t seem like there is a point right now. But we have discussed introducing it to him. I think we will get him the Baby Signing Time: Potty Time video set. He’s on his way, though. He wakes from most naps and in the morning pretty dry. He’s fussy when he fills his diaper up too, so these are all good signs. I will be totally honest, though, this part really scares me. lol I think if I were a SAHM it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming, but I just don’t have the time to dedicate to him with this right now. Thank goodness he isn’t ready. lol
Once he begins walking, we will look into our options. I’ve already seen the potty ramp, and we have 3 potty chairs or seat covers haha. Any one else have some good tips?
It’s so tempting to push it because the thought of 3 in diapers is enough to drive anyone over the edge, but I know he’s just not quite ready.
We need to add “potty” to his signs. lol

So I think that is the therapy update right now! Thanks to our awesome team and my amazing husband for working so hard with Eli! It shows! 🙂 What are you working on with your kids?

Feeding Therapy- Sitting Pretty

We have been revamping how we feed Eli and how to make him as successful as possible. Some new stuff we have learned this week? That he is one fiesty boy!
Our SLP suggested giving him his own spoon to hold. He promptly threw it on the floor.
She said that if he does that, then he doesn’t get another one.
Then he started to throw food and sling food that he could grab- even knocking over an entire bowl of stew on Sunday. -_-
Fun stuff!
When he is stuffy, forget about feeding him at all. lol
And when he is really being difficult, we can break out a jar of baby food and pretend to scoop his dinner from it. Even if it’s not what was in the jar, he thinks it comes from there and happily eats it up. I didn’t realize he even knew what the jars were! That sneaky little boy!
Some days he does awesome- self feeds, and chows down on all his food. Other days, we have to sing, play movies and fight him to eat. But we are getting there and we are so proud of how far he has come so quickly!

We decided to up our game. We recently bought a new high chair. This is Eil in his chair before: photo 1
It’s a Graco booster. He is slightly reclined in it (it does not adjust to sit up straight at all). As a booster, he has no foot rest (though as a high chair, there is a foot rest but he cannot reach it). We don’t use the tray at the table because it doesn’t fit. But even with the tray on, he can pull his legs up in his chair and bend all sorts of ways while sitting for meals.
Our SLP said this positioning is super poor when it comes to getting focused on eating.

This is Eli in his new chair. It is a Svan Signet High Chair: photo 4 What a difference it makes!! So many reasons I love this chair! It is much much smaller than it looked online. It fits, with the tray, at the table and matches my furniture. It has a cushion but it was in the wash. It is completely adjustable, so it grows with him (see the video below). The best part? He sits just like he would if he were sitting in a chair. Back and legs at a 90 degree angle, with feet firmly planted on a surface. He cannot, no matter how hard tries, pull his legs up in the chair. 🙂 Happy mama!

We are very hopeful that this will help his feeding. The chair is new, and we are waiting for our SLP to come see it, but from the pictures I sent her, she is pleased 🙂 And so are we! He’s been stuffy this week, so we can’t tell if it’s made a difference or not. I will keep you updated. Love this chair and now I want one for Ruby! 🙂
photo 2

Food Troubles

If any of you follow me on FB then you will have likely seen one of my frantic posts about feeding issues.
When we began solids at 5.5 months, Eli was an eager eater. He liked everything except frozen cold stuff and avocado. When we moved on to more textured items he fought back, but in general did very well. He only has two teeth and low tone, so he has to work extra hard but he gets the job done.
Now over the last two months, feeding has slowly become an issue. It has gotten to where it takes 45 minutes to shovel food in, we sing, dance, trade off, play movies…anything to get him to take one bite.
Most of the advice I got was that he would not starve and eventually he would eat when he was ready. Which was great advice. But didn’t work for my kid. He won’t eat, I promise. Not even his favorite foods.
We were down to him eating strictly veggies sticks and drinking pediasure.

I spoke with ECI and they sent a feeding specialist to watch Eli this morning. Eli performed quite well, refusing all food. We tried some of her suggestions and talked about Eli’s development. After an hour, we decided it was down to this: scrap everything and start over. No gluten, no dairy, no snacks, offer solids before liquids, reduce the amount of liquids he’s taking in/change his eating schedule, go back to more pureed foods but don’t loose texture or chunks if he tolerates it, let him play in the food, if he doesn’t eat try again later, praise/positive experience, try playing videos/apps to encourage eating (we will wean these away, but right now it’s *anything* to get him to eat) and finally get in with a GI doctor to have his reflux examined. (He’s 15 months and still spits up daily…I know I wouldn’t want to eat if I was throwing up all the time…).
She wants a Ph probe test, an upper GI, a velopharyngeal closure exam, and a gastric emptying test. And when I looked all those up I was like woah!
It seems like a lot, and I’m wondering if it’s the route we should go, or if we should try some of her techniques before doing all these invasive tests.

The feeding therapist feels like because this has been such a sudden and drastic change that it might be a gastro issue that has turned into a behavioral issue.
What we did notice is that he won’t eat for anyone else but Barry and I, and tends to eat better when we are in an unfamiliar location (like out to dinner, or even in the car).
It did feel good to be validated in what we had already tried and our stress over the whole situation. I totally own that fact that I have removed all pleasure from the eating experience- mostly because the goal of nurturing Eli hasn’t been being reached, so I zeroed in on one task- eating only. I’m a meanie like that.

After our session, Eli ate all his breakfast, ate all his lunch and had all his dinner. No snacks and offered less liquids. He only spit up once today and in general was in a good mood.
We also added 2 cc’s of apple cider vinegar to his milk- it’s supposed to reduce acid?? I don’t know. I’m not sure if I see a correlation with using it or not, but it was worth a try.

Maybe I’m just a stressed out, over sensitive ball of hormones and crazy right now, but it felt personal. It felt personal to not be able to feed Eli and give him the basics of what he needed. The goods news is that we are trying to do something about it and so far it’s been a better experience already.
I never thought we would face feeding issues with Eli, but just when you think you know your kiddo, they throw you a curve ball. lol
Thanks to all my friends and family for your advice and support. I’m sure we aren’t done yet, but I’ve taken a chill-pill so we will see! 😉