Extra Sensory Input = a good thing

We have been trying to increase Eli’s sensory diet in a practical way.  It simply isn’t practical to go to the mall every day.  So I’ve been trying to figure out ways to give him what he needs while staying inside of our usual routine.

Both his OT and his ST came on Monday.  It was a short session and really didn’t yield much of anything new.  Eli did sign more when he wanted more puzzle pieces and he showed them the sneeze game.  He had them both sneezing shapes from the shape sorter off of their heads.  G worked with him while A asked me questions.  They’re trying to get a good feel for where he is and what his needs are so they can really tailor things to suit his needs.

One thing I’ve been doing for more sensory input is going outside more.  We take a walk at least once a day.  He is usually in his wagon and at some point I take him out and let him run through grass at the field or walk holding my hand up and down our street.  I will take him outside and hold him and he likes to watch the neighborhood kids play.  He loves to run in the field with the dogs and chase after them.

Another thing I’ve been doing for increased sensory input is very physical games.  I encouraged Eli to run at me and then I catch him.  When I catch him I give him a squeeze and a kiss and let him go so he can do it all over again.  Sometimes this turns into the squeeze game where I squeeze him and make exaggerated sounds and then he squeezes me back grunting and turning red.  It’s too cute.

We play the flying game.  I lay on my back on the floor and put him on my legs and bounce him up and down counting and on three I flip him over and dangle him in the air.  He LOVES this and will push me to the floor and climb on my legs to get me to fly him.

I’ve been changing up how he plays, at the suggestion of his OT.  She says that he seems very set in his routines of playing and that he always does the same things and we should try to help him vary it.  So instead of just stacking blocks up, we’ve been stacking them to the sides and putting figures on top and making trains and pushing them.  When we play at the train table together I make obstacles on the track for him to push through.  We play a lot of catch and we play a lot of sneeze game.

When I’m not playing with him, he is so very content to just play by himself.  He is always more content doing his own thing and is often bothered when I try to play with him.  But usually once we get started he’s happy to have me.  He loves to take a cr or train and just drive it everywhere on every surface, just walking around driving it on things.  He spends a lot of time with his puzzles and shape sorter too.

Since increasing Eli’s sensory input I have definitely noticed some changes.  He is happier over all.  He is eating better and more things.  He will consistently eat cheese, strawberries, mac and cheese and apples now!

He is asking to go to bed when he is tired and will happily go to bed.  He still requests to nurse to sleep and we snuggle and he goes right to sleep.  Some days he lets Daddy snuggle him to sleep too.  Mostly though he will ask to go to bed adn he will ask to nurse.  He asks to go to bed by saying “nigh-nigh” and he asks to nurse by dragging me into his bedroom and tossing himself into bed and laying down ready to nurse and sometimes he says “mama” while doing it.

We have been working on adding the signs for help and done to his vocabulary.  He hasn’t signed help, but he says “help!” anytime he climbs up on anything.  I’m thinking he associates help with climbing up because he first started to say help when he was climbing up on playground equipment.  So we are working on using “help” in other contexts.  A couple of nights ago at dinner he threw his hands up in the air and said “duh! duh!” and I figured out he is signing and saying done!  He’s done that consistently for the past couple of days now.  It’s always when he is done eating or drinking.  So again we are going to be working on using it in other contexts.

He has been really big on his up/down game.  He says “up” and everyone in the room has to raise their hands and say up.  He will keep saying up until EVERYONE has their hands up and then he ever so cutely says “down” and flicks his hands downward.  He also loves to make a sound and have the big kids echo is back to him.

Today has been a shoe day, yesterday was too.  He’s been out of sorts today but I can’t really figure out why or what’s going on.  Just an off day I guess?

Overall his sleep has been better.  He finally cut all of the teeth he was working on, which I think has helped.  But I also se that the extra sensory input is helping him out in the sleep department as well.  He goes down and most nights stays down until 3 or 4 when Daddy can usually go in and soothe him and then about 5 or 6 he cries for me and wants to nurse.  He nurses and we snuggle and he is usually back to sleep until 8 or so.  It works for now and is so much better than when he was getting up every 20 minutes!  Naps have been better too.

I worry that I might be desensitizing him to touch and making him calloused in a way with all of this physical sensory input.  But he is hardly spinning at all, bounces more for fun and less out of compulsion and is banging his head less.  He still loves to touch everything with his forehead.  I have noticed that he walks on his toes almost all of the time now though.  I’m not sure what that is about?

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To Grandpa’s house we go .. in pictures!

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The Past Bunch of Days

Eli had OT on Monday.  They played a bit, he wasn’t too interested in her toys this time, he was much more interested in his own toys.  He did however start saying “up, up, up” while stacking his blocks.  And he’s made a game of kicking them down these days too.  His OT didn’t have much different to say this week.  It’s a lot of the same stuff.

There’s been a lot of compulsive jumping, spinning, and chanting the past few days.  It’s like he *has* to do it.  I try to distract him but it doesn’t always work.  He’s been so cute lately with the alphabet … when I say a letter he makes a sound.  Until today it seemed kind of all over the place and like he wasn’t making any letter sounds, but things changed today … more on that later in the post!

Sleep has been a huge issue.  Sleep?  What is sleep?  You’ll notice it’s after 4am and I’m typing a post!  Eli just doesn’t sleep well.  It can take hours to get him down to sleep and then often he wakes up 20 minutes later.  It’s been a real mess lately.  D and I are zombies.  Some days Eli doesn’t seem any worse for not sleeping though.  Other days, like today, he’s a giant tired mess!  Or I thought it was because he was tired, but his ST today may be on to something!

Eli had speech therapy today (make that yesterday, but it’s still today to me since I haven’t actually gone to sleep yet!) and it was mostly talking about Eli while she observed him.  This was this ST first real visit with us so she was getting a feel for things.  She is also his therapy coordinator so she talks the business end of all of this stuff too.

He was mostly a hot mess for his ST today.  He was over tired and just not feeling being social today.  He played for a bit at first when she got here.  He played with his blocks… stacking them and then touching each stack with his forehead.  He ran around bouncing off of things too.  He drew for a bit.  He was kind of all over the place really.  He ended up needing a nap in the middle of ST but when I put him down he only stayed down for 20 minutes.  We were trying to do a sensory question thingy with the ST but we didn’t get to finish.

After observing Eli and talking with us for a bit, A (the ST) started to talk about some sensory stuff.  She said that sometimes a child needs more sensory input than other kids and when they don’t just get it they seek it out.  So that would be why he will jump for a very long time, or spin, or bang his head and other such stuff.  She says he may need more sensory input than he’s getting to feel okay and so he doesn’t know any other way but to display these behaviors.  She also explained that time he could be learning or doing other normal activities is taken up by the time he spends spinning or jumping or chanting.

So we decided to test her theory.  He was pretty much non stop crying after she left and we figured it would do everyone good to get out of the house for a bit.  We decided to do a lot of sensory stuff to see if giving him way more sensory input helped things any.

We first went to the mall where we sat in the food court and had some lunch and did a lot of people watching.  He very happily ate lunch while looking at everyone and everything around him.  After that we walked around a bit, he was in his stroller, but he wasn’t complaining, just people watching.  He ate chicken nuggets for lunch and after we got him a fruit smoothie and he slurped that up while we walked.

Before leaving we took Eli out of his stroller and let him walk around Macy’s.  He didn’t grab at anything and he wasn’t wild, so I figured I would just let him go and follow him and see what happened.  First he walked around the racks, in circles over and over again.  Then he found full length mirrors and has a blast looking at himself and saying “he-woah” (hello) to himself.  He kept laughing at himself.  He’s been randomly laughing a lot lately, but this was definitely him laughing at himself.  He would fall down on the floor and watch himself and say down and he would jump up and watch himself and say up.  This is when he started to get pretty lively and very happy.  He walked around Macy’s for a good half hour and I just followed him.  He at one point banged his head into every single stack of clothing he could find .. and being in Macy’s that was a lot!  Towards the end of the half hour it was obvious he had had enough and to avoid a melt down I picked him up and we went up and then down the escalators and then we went to the van.

From the mall we went to the playground.  He had a blast running through the grass, relocating the wood chips, climbing up stairs, going down slides, walking (ever so carefully, it was adorable!) across the drawbridge and just over all having fun.  He was very happy.  He had trouble climbing up a few times and each time we would ask him, “do you need help?” and sign help.  Eventually he walked over to where he had trouble and would yell “hell!” until we rescued him and helped him up.  It was so sweet to hear him talk and use a word on purpose and with meaning!

After the playground we came home for a few minutes and then we took the dogs for a walk and went to a nearby fenced in field and let Eli run around with the dogs.  He loves the dogs and spent quite a bit of time chasing them and yelling “dee! dee!” after them.

Then we came home and I made dinner.  As dinner was cooking I sliced up some apples and gave some to Dave and handed a piece to Eli.  I didn’t think he would eat it, but I always try anyway .. well he ate it!  And loved it!  And asked (signed “more”) for more!  Then he started stealing Dave’s pieces from his plate.  I am beyond excited that he happily tried a new food and one I’ve never put before him before!

After a rather healthy sized dinner Eli had a bath and then we sat on the sofa and read book before bed.  When he picked the book he wanted, (Buzz Buzz Busy Bees) he brought it to me saying “butt, butt” (buzz, buzz I suspect and if you’re keeping track he says die-die-die to people as they leave while shoo’ing them out the door, he yells “hell!” and now says butt, butt) and we sat together and read the book.

After that book we did our abc game.  I start by saying a and it was that he was just making sounds .. but when I said “a” .. he plain as day said, “bee!” and then a lot of the letters he would repeat after me and they sounded so close!  Some letters he just made a sound for and other letters he anticipated.  When I said “h” he said “i” and he perfectly said “p” too!  I was impressed and so happy and excited!

I don’t know if all of the day’s sensory input helped him to be more content and able to focus and talk and eat .. or if it was just a coincidence?  I am more than willing to put this theory to the test though and really pay close attention to what he’s had for sensory input each day compared to his behaviors for the day.

I want to provide him with all the sensory input he needs.  I would love for the spinning to stop so he doesn’t bump his head and I would love for him to jump because it’s fun not because he feels the urge or need to … but how on earth do I provide him with all the sensory input he seems to need every single day?  That’s a lot to do every day, all day.  I don’t know how to meet his needs in a more realistic way.  I also don’t want to over stimulate him either.  I guess this is where his EI team is going to start to come in really handy!

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Spinning Circles

Eli spins a lot of circles.  He spins every single day.  I can see that it obviously makes him happy and he enjoys doing it.  I don’t want to stop him from spinning, but I don’t know how to keep him safe.  He spins around and around and around and then he gets wobbly so he runs a bigger circle instead of spinning, but then he almost always falls down.  He’s hit his head a few times now and it really concerns me.  I’ll be putting in a phone call to his pedi on Monday I think.

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A good day!

Today was a good day, a really good day.  Eli was so spirited and happy.  He wanted me to play with him.  We did puzzles and for every animal he neighed.  We played with the shape sorter, well he played, I watched.  He sat in my lap and next to me a lot.  We read the same book (Buzz Buzz, Busy Bees) over and over again.  He signed more anytime I asked him if he wanted something to eat and he did.  He shook his head no when I asked him something and his answer was no.  He was gentle and loving with the dog.

He asked to nurse around bedtime, by climbing into my lap, snuggling my chest and saying “na-na” .. and so we did our bedtime routine and we laid down and he nursed and then all of a sudden he popped off, looked at me and said “he-wa” and climbed off the bed and ran off to the toy room.  He said “he-wa” several more times, as he passed the dog, when he saw the cat, when his daddy got home from work .. and then he was waving when he said it.  We’re pretty sure it’s “hello.”  It’s so cute and sweet!

I was sitting with him in the toy room as he was running around dumping out every bucket and basket as fast as he could and running to the next one.  He picked up a plastic hat (it goes on a plastic horse figure) and put it on my head and said, “ha” several times.  We went back and forth putting the tiny hat on each others heads saying hat.

He still wore one shoe and was upset if he didn’t have his shoe on.  He was particular about his clothes.  He made sure drawers and cabinets were shut.  He rocked and head banged.  All of that was still there today, but he was also so responsive and happy and cuddly.  It was a nice day!

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“more”

Eli was eating cheerios (yup, again!) and he finished what was in his snack bowl.  When I asked him if he wanted more, he handed me the bowl and signed “more” by slamming his two little fists together!!

When he’s eating “eat” and “more” regularly I think we may add “all done”  to the mix.  I am so excited that he is starting to sign!  We’ve been working on it for so long!

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Circles, chants and “eat”

Yesterday our oldest, V, who has diabetes, had a routine appointment with her D-nurse.  We go to Boston for this and we try to make it fun, not just an appointment.  After the appointment we decided to check out Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.  These are very crowded, busy, noisy places.  I wasn’t sure how Eli would react.  Sometimes he freaks out and shows huge anxiety, sometimes he is very chill and it’s like he’s tune it out so it won’t bother him.

He fell asleep in the van on the way from the hospital parking garage to the way over priced parking garage near where we were going.  He stayed asleep for a while in the stroller as we were walking around and he woke up at the tail end of lunch.  He munched on some bread, had a quick drink and then we walked around and watched some street performers do their thing.  He wasn’t too happy sitting in the stroller watching, but when I took him out and sat him on my lap and let him jump up and down as he watched he was very content and happy.

He got a little antsy, but overall he did really well, especially after running around in the hospital for a little over an hour!  While he and his brother and his father were waiting for V and I to be done with her appointment they hung out in an area of the hospital that has a stage.  Eli had a blast running back and forth across the stage.  He interacted with another little boy there by stopping and jumping up and down anytime his path crossed the little boy’s path.

He is often so aware of the people around him and sometimes he really seems to want to play with people he comes across.  Of course he usually does this by either running circles around the person, or getting a little too personal or throwing himself on the floor at their feet, but I am encouraged by how much he really tries at times to socialize with other people.  Would I prefer he didn’t greet other children by poking them in the eye? Heck ya, but I’ll take his eagerness and willingness to be with other people.

Today has been a very spinning circles and chanting kind of day.  He has spun in circles for quite a while today.  He spins and hums or just spins and then he stumbles to regain his balance and then he spins again.  He always seems to content and relaxed when he’s spinning.  He’s been very interested in the ceiling fans today too.  He likes to look up and them and smile.  He’s always been that way with ceiling fans though.

Eli has been so vocal today.  I love hearing his voice.  Of course he was mostly chanting… but it’s a sweet sound anyway.  He’s been a big fan of saying the sound that P makes and a sound that almost sounds like pop, but not quite.  He yells it over and over, usually while running back and forth or jumping up and down.  He’s been making another sound pretty consistently, but I’m pretty sure I can’t spell that one.

This afternoon Eli brought me a box of cereal.  He sat down on the sofa next to me.  I asked him if he wanted some, he didn’t answer.  I signed more and asked him if he wanted some more (he had just had some) and without prompting he signed “eat”!!  He repeatedly while looking at me put his little fist up to his mouth and tapped it against his face.  I gave him his cereal and a big cheer while crying (happy tears) on his little head and hugging him.

We have been working on signing “eat” and “more” with him.  We don’t just give him things, we usually try to encourage him to ask for things or make some attempt at letting us know what he wants.  For example, I’ll say, “Eli would you like some more water?” and I will sign more.  He doesn’t usually respond.  I’ll do it again, and usually he gets a little grumpy that I haven’t just given it to him already, so I will take his hands and help him sign more while I say more and then promptly hand him his sippy cup.  And we do the same with eat.  And today he signed eat!!  Very excited mama over here!

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