Saturday, December 6, 2008
Shhh, don't tell yet
Two interesting things have happened this last week.
Firstly we have started "brushing" Matt - and I am not talking about his hair and his teeth. I am talking about brushing his body. A good friend of mine, who is an Occupational Therapist, introduced me to this. The brushing provides deep pressure which can help the child with his sensory modulation. And what is this you ask? Sensory Modulation "is the ability of the nervous system to regulate, organize and prioritize incoming sensory information, inhibiting or suppressing irrelevant information; and prioritizing and helping the child focus on relevant information. Children with problems modulating sensory input may exhibit difficulties with learning, social relations, behavioural and task organisation, attention and purposeful interaction with the space around them" (Katz and Bailey, 2005)
We have noticed with Matt that he tends to shake his head alot and do other odd movements. We were wondering if this was a sensory thing and that is why we were open to trying this brushing thing.
This is what the brush looks like:
The idea is to brush his arms, legs and back at regulary intervals during the day. The first time I did this I was so surprised by how calmly Matt sat and it looked like he was loving it. In fact when I finished brushing his back he lay down again and looked up at me as though he was saying "more please". For the last 4 days I have been brushing him at least 3 or 4 times a day and each time he has enjoyed it. It has become a bonding moment for us. But the best news of all is that his falling asleep has drastically improved from the first night that I had started the brushing. I must acknowledge that we have been doing a variety of things to assist him to sleep (getting a night light, gently training him to sleep) so I can't say his improvement in sleep is 100% due to the brushing. But I am still impressed with the impact it has had on Matt.
Secondly Matt has started walking but we must pretend he hasn't. Matt is able to walk a distance of about 3 meters as long as my finger gently rests on his one shoulder (providing no physical assistance, only moral support). However the minute we get excited about his steps or praise him, he sits down and stops. It is as though our praise puts too much pressure on him to perform, maybe it even makes him scared to fail and disappoint us, so he opts to not try any more. So although we are jumping up and down on the inside, we have to make as though we are not noticing - and then he is happy to continue taking steps. On Friday he initiated the walking by himself - from me to a friend, a distance of about 5 steps. We all just sat there calmly pretending that it wasn't a big thing - although with our eyes we were all communicating great celebration. I am struck by the enormous impact the psychological side has on our physical abilities. So keep this a secret until Matt is ready for the world to know that he can actually walk.