According to the weathermen here in Chicago winter isn’t quite over yet but in our house spring is in full bloom. Instead of budding trees we have Aleck’s mouth budding with teeth, and now that we are done with most of our spring cleaning, we’ve cleared up a lot of space in the house and in our heads and hearts for all the things we are looking forward to as the weather gets warmer. For the first time since he was born we are no longer staring down the barrel of surgeries, hospitals, and medical procedures. And for the first time Aleck is free to really grow and develop, exploring himself and even getting into some cabinets in our living room. His therapists are all in agreement, Aleck is starting to bloom. He’s going through a developmental growth spurt and he’s at a critical point in his therapies. He wants to move. He wants to be on his feet. He wants to walk. He also wants to crawl, but his idea of trying to crawl is turning onto his tummy and banging his head (not hard, he’s not hurting himself) into his mat, changing table, or couch and screaming (boyah, boyah, boyah, boyah). It’s not effective but it’s hilarious.
We’ve been working on walking a lot lately. Holding him by his upper torso and encouraging him to kick each leg out while we sing, “Step, step, take a big step”, we are slowly teaching him about walking. He’s definitely interested in moving and kicking out those legs, but we have a very long way to go. Standing is still a regular therapy activity. He spends time each morning in his stander playing with toys on his tray and watching the baby channel on our tv. Sometimes he tolerates it for up to an hour which is just amazing for me so I get some time in the morning to clean up from breakfast, answer a few emails, or start the laundry all the while he’s getting a full dose of physical therapy. I’m pretty sure I’m more of a fan of the stander than he is but he’s such a good sport. And of course I feel so guilty throwing him in front of the TV while he’s standing, but it really keeps him happy and developing these muscles regularly will not only help him work on walking but it will also help his hip heel faster. Practicing standing is such a regular part of what we do now that we aren’t really working on it in therapy anymore. During his morning books he practically climbs out of my lap to stand at the ottoman in his room, pushing the books off and onto the floor. It’s so exciting to see him on his feet, even if I’m behind him hands poised and ready to catch him if he falls or give him a break if he gets exhausted.
What’s also really exciting is how motivated Aleck is now by seeing other kids running around, walking, and moving. When we go on play dates he really watches the other kids very carefully and is trying to figure out how to be just like them. So last Saturday we went to the Shed Aquarium with some friends who have a son who is about 9 months older than Aleck and he proved to be such an inspiration it was amazing. Aleck wanted to do everything Ori was doing. And Ori was walking, Ori was standing up against the glass watching the whales and the dolphins, so Aleck wanted to stand against the glass and watch the fish as well. At one point I set him on the ledge and he started kicking his feet out with such vigor I just cracked up at how enthusiastically he wanted to walk. And so he did. With my help we stood at the main aquarium upstairs and walked to the glass. We stood and reached into the water to touch the starfish. We stood and touched the barnacles. We stood and walked to the glass to see the whales, the penguins, the dolphins. After about an hour Aleck had completely worn himself out and it was adorable. The entire visit was one big PT session and we couldn’t have been happier.
On Wednesday we took the biggest step we’ve taken yet, we put Aleck in a walker. His PT at home felt he was ready for it so I spoke to my PT at the RIC and we made it happen. He’d never been in one before so for the first time there is always that fear of the unknown for him, what is the contraption and why is it going to do to me. But with a lot of help from the games on my phone and the Ipad we were able to get him all the way around the floor where they do pediatric outpatient therapy. I even made a video of the tail end of the walk and you can see it at our video page on this site. Now we are working on getting a walker at home so it’s on to testing out different walkers and seeing what works best for Aleck. That also means it’s time to try out the treadmill and other gait training devices which is so exciting for all of this. We’ve put a bunch of our usual PT activities on the back burner for now. Aleck can sit up, but he still can’t put himself in a sitting up position or get himself down from sitting. We’ve been working on those skills for months and he’s just not making anymore progress in these areas. Our PT at home thinks that he’s just going to do it one day and it’s not a top priority. When he understands more about how his body works and what he can do it’ll come naturally for him since he has all the strength to get the job done. He also doesn’t crawl yet either which I mentioned before, but we’ve been told that it’s not something he needs to do in order to walk. Instead of crawling he rolls and inches his way around our living room, his OT has dubbed him “inchworm”. Lately I’ve taken to try to teach him how to crawl just because he seems like it’s something he wants to do, he just wants to “Go”, which is one of his favorite words right now. And since Aleck wants to go, he’s going to do exactly that, Aleck is going to walk. We don’t know if he’ll walk independently or with assisted devices. We don’t know what type of assistance he’ll need as he gets older, it may keep changing, and even if he walks independently we really don’t know what that will look like either. The only thing we know right now is that he’s going to be a mobile little boy sooner than later and that is something to get us out of bed every morning. Guess it’s time to finally baby proof the house!
See the video of Aleck in a walker here: http://smartaleckpersin.com/videos/?entry=qRvtqPHGsoM