Thursday, 31 January 2013

My Oral Motor Needs a Tune Up!

Have you ever really thought about what it takes to speak?  Or how many different skills are required to eat?    Before I had kids, I never really thought about it.  It's all just supposed to happen, right? Well, generally speaking, it does.  Most children tend to follow similar stages of development in similar timelines, but every once and while you encounter....

An Owie.  Cue cricket noises.

It helps if you open your mouth Honey.  Just sayin'

I'll be the first one to say that his developmental timeline is officially upside down, backwards and turned around.  It is disordered, delayed and disorganized.  And because of this, we never know what skill he needs to work on so that the next milestone will work out for him.

It has been challenging, and has taken a very long time to get to where we are now with oral motor.  There is still a very long road ahead too.  Since we are on our own for therapy now we build lots of things into our day that help him with oral motor strength, awareness, coordination, movement, and endurance of the jaw, tongue, lips and cheeks.  We say funny words over and over.  We use vibrating toothbrushes for sensory awareness, as well as helping desensitize his gag reflex.  We practice sticking our tongues out in every different direction, which we all find terribly amusing!  We are now attempting to move things around in the mouth using the tongue.  I'll be honest with you all here.  I find this activity nerve racking- because Owen chokes A LOT.  And late last year we lost a very close relative.  To choking.  I know, things happen beyond our control- and I'm trying my level best to remain calm and continue with all things feeding related.

The Sucker Dance
I felt most comfortable using a lollipop or toothbrush for this activity, since I was asking him to move it from cheek to cheek without using his hands, I knew that I could grab it if I needed to.  Oral motor excercises are always done while sitting at the table.  To help with awareness I asked him to touch his cheek as he moved it from side to side.  Sometimes I let him use a mirror, just so that he can see where it is and where it needs to go.  I found it kind of interesting that he drooled excessively during this activity.

Bubble Gum Gumption
Like most kids, he really relishes the idea of Bubble Gum.  Those appealing little colourful packages of sugar and artificial flavour...  Not my favourite thing in the world for the kids to be chomping on, but since he really only keeps it in there for a few minutes before he says he's done, I caved.  Again, we do this at the table, so that he stays in one place, and is less likely to get side tracked and choke on it.  It goes in, he moves it side to side in his mouth once chewed.  I'm still trying to get him to put it under his tongue.  He desperately wants to blow bubbles with it, but so far, his tongue and lips are not only not strong enough to do it, but they just won't cooperate.  We end both activities with a thorough tooth brushing - as soon as we're finished!

Do you have any ideas for Oral Motor Activities that you do with your own little ones?  I'm always looking for more ideas!  If you've stopped by to take a peek inside our lives, please feel free to leave a little hello down in the comments!

From the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

"Occupational therapy is the art and science of enabling engagement in everyday living, through occupation; of enabling people to perform the occupations that foster health and well-being; and of enabling a just and inclusive society so that all people may participate to their potential in the daily occupations of life (Townsend& Polatajko, 2007, p. 372)."

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Tough Guys DO Dance

.......And then, she asked: "Is he Crossing Midline?"

"Um, what's that?" I asked, and felt the red rising up my neck and into my cheeks.

"Does he reach across his body to pick up toys or to touch an item of interest?"

"Well, come to think of it.... No.  He's more likely to move himself closer to the toy than he is to reach across...."

And so began the journey.

What is so important about crossing midline anyway?  Well, in short- crossing the midline is an indicator of bilaterial coordination, meaning the “ability to use both sides of the body at the same time."  It is a prerequisite (of sorts) for climbing stairs, riding a bicycle, catching a ball.  Not to mention the development of cognitive skills like reading, writing and learning.  Laterilazation is important in the process, as is establishing side dominance.  And one of the biggest challenges for Owen has been bilateral integration- where both sides of the body working  simultaneously and independently in body-related, as well as mind-related actions.  You've all seen the kid on the playground that can't jump with his feet together (step one), couldn't do a jumping jack if his life depended on it (step two), let alone put toothpaste on a toothbrush (step three)?  That's Owen.  Love him for all of these quirks and more, because he makes me think outside the box!  For a more indepth look at crossing midline, there is a great article available here:  Establishing Dominance and Crossing Midline

So.  What do we do to help?  Lots of everyday things like playing games at the table that force the kids to reach across their bodies to pick things up.  And of course, we dance. Twenty minutes each night, as a matter of fact.  And sometimes, when you least expect something, it happens....

Crossing midline AND alternating sides, Gangnam Style!
The best Occupational Therapy is doing the things you like to do, regardless of how good you are at it, and doing it as often as you can.  So my challenge to you readers, is to turn up the music, and DANCE with your children.  Even if they are typically developing kids, and you are a typically developing parent, I guarantee that you will both benefit from the experience.  After all, as Maya Angelou said ~~

"Everything in the universe has a rhythym.  Everything dances."

I knew he was up to something, but it didn't know what....

I plan on writing a post on Thursday for the next little while to give you a glimpse inside our lives.  Thursday will henceforth be known as Therapy Thursday, and I hope that you will join me.  Post a blog, or tweet about it using the hashtag #TherapyThursday.  Feel free to post a link below in the comment section!  Remember that there are many different types of therapy- Occupational, Physical, Feeding, Speech Language and Behavioural to name a few.  I hope it will serve as yet another way to spread awareness of special needs!  If you have stopped by to visit today, please don't be afraid to say hi, or leave a comment below.

From the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

"Occupational therapy is the art and science of enabling engagement in everyday living, through occupation; of enabling people to perform the occupations that foster health and well-being; and of enabling a just and inclusive society so that all people may participate to their potential in the daily occupations of life (Townsend& Polatajko, 2007, p. 372)."

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Year in Pictures

Some of our most memorable moments of 2012.


The first time she looked like a big girl
Do you remember the first time you looked at your little one and saw a glimpse of the person that they were growing into?  This is it.  I saw it through the camera lens and managed to capture it.


It was cold, but worth it!
The boys on our first real family vacation.  Splashing in the surf of the Atlantic.  One of the most cherished moments of my life!


I CAN do this.  I just have to figure it out....
He struggled, and we tried everything we could think of to make it easier for him.  This was not the day that it all came together, just one of the many steps along the way.


2012 will be known as the year of the cat.
Daisy has spent the entire year pretending to be a cat- sometimes with costume, sometimes without.  


The Mud Men- before,
And after...
I'm pretty sure that this is the third change of clothes for the day.  But as you can see from his face in the top picture he had the time of his life!


Not so smooth this time around
June was busy- so it deserves two photos.  The picture above was taken at Kingston General Hospital as Owen was waking up from anaesthetic for his second MRI.  This wake up was not very pleasant- but it came tempered with positive results- no change!  The picture below was taken the next day.

Skateboard Luge Team


Where is everybody?
Summer is the busiest time of the year, therefore July and August will have two photos as well.  Above, the boys walk through a nearly deserted section of Union Station after taking their first ever ride on the GO train.

And below, my two monsters wait at the GO station for a friend.


The BIGGEST toad in the world
She goes from finding the biggest toad in the world to defying gravity all in one day.....


Work it Baby!
Beautiful Boy!

You don't have to be scared, you've got each other.
 Please excuse me while I dab my eyes for a moment.  I didn't think it was going to be so hard to let them go- but I was wrong.  They take good care of each other though, and for that I am truly thankful.


And we're ROCKING the two wheeled scooter!
By October Owen had mastered the three wheeled scooter, the larger two wheeled scooter (WITH a backpack on!) and was regularly pedalling his two wheeler with training wheels.  BIG news!


Hi!  It's me...
You don't normally get to see me in these posts.  Here is a bonus shot.  Hi!  November was the month that we managed to get out sans munchkins not once, but twice.  


Catching Snowflakes
 As you can see, I'm terrible at narrowing down pictures.  I cannot decide between these two- so I'm sharing both.
We will remember these times....

What are your most memorable moments of 2012?