Friday, October 4, 2013

What is therapy like?

In my "before Ds" life, I knew a few families who had some sort of therapy for their kids.  And I always wondered, how do you do therapy on a baby?  Especially occupational therapy...are they training for a job already?

For today's 21 for 31 post, I thought I'd show a glimpse of what therapy is like for Cade.

Cade has an occupational therapist who comes to our house twice a month.  Her name is Elaine and we really like her.  The first time she came, Cade was only 5 weeks old.  On that very first visit, she explained about the palate in the mouth, how it forms, and how its formation effects the rest of our lives.  The way you eat, the way you drink, how clearly you'll be able to talk, etc.  Cade's first set of therapy exercises were oral.  I massage the roof of his mouth in a certain way 3-4 times a day.  I rub his gums and teach his tongue how to curl for proper swallowing.  (This usually falls under speech therapy, but our OT also does ST work.)  Here's a fantastic video of a dad doing the same oral exercises with his daughter.

Around 9-10 weeks we started working with a peanut ball to strengthen his legs and core muscles.  By placing his arms in the proper position, it also helped teach him to raise his head and chest at tummy time and prepare him for crawling later on.

Then we moved on to other forms of exercise to help strengthen core muscles.  Cade has spent a LOT of time on his tummy. We found a few toys that really helped make this more fun.

Now that Cade has mastered tummy time, lifting his head, and propping himself up on his elbows, we focus more on the muscles needed for sitting.  That was one surprise for me: that each muscle group is conscientiously worked until the goal is achieved.  With our other babies, they didn't need our help learning to sit.  We propped them up a few times and then they did it on their own.  Cade would eventually learn on his own, too, but if we can give him a head start then he'll learn other things, like crawling and standing, more quickly.


My lovely dirty-mirror photos of Cade.  Taking the pics in the mirror is the only way I can take photos during our therapy!   Here he's working on sitting while playing with a new toy.  All of the lights and mirrors are part of the visual stimulation mentioned in the Caesar's Palace posts.

He's working on rolling right now, too.  Technically, he's rolled from both tummy to back and back to tummy, but he doesn't do it intentionally yet.  Almost there!  Light-up toys like the stacker and small toys that he can easily hold are his favorites right now.