Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Garrett's Story Part 2 (Learning to walk)

This is a continuation of Garrett's Story Part 1. See here if you haven't read part one yet.
At 13 months, Garrett started Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy through ECI (Early Childhood Intervention). The OT and PT came to our house once a month, checked on Garrett's progress, and gave me exercises or activities to do with him daily to help him improve. His OT, Irene, was especially helpful. She diagnosed him with Sensory Integration Disorder, which is a catch all term for kids who don't process the input from their senses correctly. Click on this link for a more complete description of Sensory Integration Disorder. http://www.kid-power.org/sid.html

Garrett is a sensory seeker, who seeks additional stimulation like swinging, tickling, getting dizzy. His vestibular system was especially underdeveloped. The vestibular system is in the inner ear and controls balance, but also regulates how much pressure your muscles should apply to the ground to walk, where your body parts are in space, even some behavioral aspects like impulse control and reasoning. The therapy for stimulating Garrett's vestibular system was spinning him around in a laundry basket that was sitting on a lazy susan. Once he was good and dizzy (your eyes shift back and forth when you are dizzy), I would have him follow an object with his eyes from side to side, up and down, and far and near. Almost immediately after beginning this therapy, I began to notice a big difference in the way Garrett interacted with the world. Before, he was content to sit and watch everything happen. After just a few spin sessions, he started trying to reach for things, attempting to crawl, just generally more of a go-getter; trying to do things instead of just watching. In addition to the spinning, he did a lot of swinging at the park and I would throw him up in the air or spin him around, anything to get his inner ear moving around in space to help develop his sense of balance.

By 18 months he was crawling, and he was a power crawler. People used to comment on how fast that boy could crawl on all fours. He was trying to keep up with his older sister on all fours, while she was on two legs. By 21 months he was taking his first steps. Learning to walk was a very slow process for him and he continued to fall frequently for almost a full year after taking his first steps. At almost 3 and a half, he can now walk without falling and run well, but there are other coordination milestones he is behind in, like climbing stairs with alternating feet. I can see a difference in him when we go to McDonald's Playplace. Other kids his age have mastered a lot of the climbing skills required to play at McDonald's, where Garrett still struggles.

Here is Garrett at 23 months, fighting to keep his balance.

But he loses the fight and falls.

He used to love (and still does) pushing thing, especially if they are pretty heavy. I think holding on to something to push helps him keep his balance and the pushing increases his awareness of his body in space. Here he is pushing his sister, Erin. Of course, Erin loved being pushed.

He also used to love this rocking horse. More vestibular stimulation with the rocking motion. Ride 'em, Cowboy!!! Yeeee Haaaaa.

No comments: