A couple of weeks ago we noticed a big change in Aleck’s behavior. He started complaining and screaming more during therapies, screaming “No” at the top of his lungs while arching himself backwards became a signature move, and I was finally the parent desperately trying to put her out of control with rage and tears child into their car seat, only to look up and see a group of people looking at me with lots of empathy. Techincally Aleck turned two back in October, but now he’s really two, in mind and spirit too. We’ve all been laughing about it, we thought maybe we had skipped this lovely stage in developement, and since he usually has such a charming little personality it’s quite comical to see him start to scream and cry because I can’t tell him the name of the song on the radio. Our nutritionist assured me that it’s a really important stage in his developement and that she was happy to see him start on this fun filled and very loud adventure. His poor therapists get the brunt of it as they keep calm and smiling while barely getting him successfully through his sessions. Last week we even cut one of his physical therapy sessions short when he went for my leg, wrapped himself around me and wouldn’t let go. My mom tried to tell me that maybe our therapists were pushing him a little too hard, which I didn’t agree with, but I did think we needed to change our tactics for success since our little man was going through a huge change himself.
And then we started to see it physcially as well. About the same time as the temper tantrums started Aleck started cruising along our furniture, using the couch, chairs, and coffee table to make his way around the room. Playing with our home phone (yes we have one, don’t ever use it), pulling out records, looking at the glass bowl of lollipops and asking, “What’s That?” to everything he could get his hands on. Suddenly I’m moving all of this breakable stuff out of his reach and smiling with each move, after all, I wasn’t sure we’d ever get to this point. Ali (his PT) and I were talking about all of this as we conspired to create a new routine in his sessions to accomodate all the changes in attitude. What was spurring on all of this physical change? Was it the botox? Did the metal plate coming out loosen him up? What happened recently that now has Aleck exploring what his own body can do? I’ve spent hours just monitoring him as he’s cruising, holding onto a bucket of balls and squatting down as far as he can, reaching into the bucket and grabbing a beach ball between his arms, reaching for his basketball toy declaring that he’s going to play basketball all by himself. His other therapists were asking these questions too, what has changed recently that has allowed Aleck to open himself up to his own physicality? When did he turn into my little “Daredevil” as I call him when he starts walking all the way around his shopping cart?
Ali suggested that he’s going through a huge cognitive developemental phase. It’s all part of the temper tantrums, the screaming and crying, not letting his therapists be as hands on and controlling as they’ve been over these last two years. He’s literally standing against his train table thinking, “hmmm…what else can I do? How far can I go?” Then, on Monday, as we are waiting for orthotics I’m reading him a story and I look down and he’s inched himself away from the little desk he was holding onto and is independantly standing in front of me while I’m reading. Petrified that if I called attention to it he would fall or cry or be discouraged since that’s what’s been going on in his therapy sessions, so I just turned to the woman next to me and mouthed cheering faces and noises. He’s done some of this in therapy but usually while screaming for “mommy”, crying, and once we got him up to about 1.5 minutes or however long it took him to sing his ABC’s that day. And when I’ve tried to do it with him away from therapy sessions he’s refused to even try, leaning against me so hard it’s made it impossible to even move away from him to encourage the independent standing.
We really noticed this dramatic change in him on Saturday when we took him to the Kohl’s Children’s Museum for a party, we had been there at the beginning of January, but there was a huge difference in the way he was interacting with the exhibits. Now we were able to put him on an exhibit and step back while he cruised from one end of it to the other, leaning against it or using his hands for support. I couldn’t believe the difference. It wasn’t even the same child as the one back in January. With his walker in a corner he could interact and play just like the other kids and you couldn’t tell he was any different. It was awesome.
But today, today was above and beyond awesome. Today I was cleaning out his toy bins while he was standing at the coffee table playing with a toy. While watching him I noticed he was playing with his independent standing, taking steps away from the table and then back, like playing his own game of “chicken”. Then he turned and asked me about playing with the marbles I had on the floor, and just as I was giving him the speech of playing with them on the train table and not throwing them off the train table I looked up to see him walking towards me. That’s right, walking towards me. I just sat there, completely stunned and had no idea what to do. If I called attention to it would he fall? Do I stop him? Do I run over? Instead I sat there while he made his own way across our living room and as soon as he was in arm’s reach I wrapped my arms around him and just started to cry. And that’s how my mom found me when she walked into our house.
About 30 minutes later Ali arrived and I caught her in the hallway before she walked in to tell her what had just happened. I wasn’t sure if it would be duplicated, if asking him to walk would discourage him from walking again, if we put all of this attention on him would he freeze? Well, it took a little coaxing but then he was walking all over the place. Making turns, going from the floor to the rug, walking down our hallway, even holding his remote for his car while standing without any help. I can hardly digest what just happened, I was crying the whole time, mom and I hugged and cried, Ali and I hugged and cried, I’m crying again right now.
On Monday he gets his new orthotics to help correct the position of his right leg and I know it’s going to be a big step backwards in his walking. I also know that he’s going to recover from it pretty quickly and we’ll be making new walking videos in no time. In the meantime, please enjoy all of these new videos and see for yourself, we have a toddler.