On The Go

It’s been a busy week here at the House of Peevish. Some weeks are like that. But it has been “good” busy, so that helps a lot.

  • Early in the week, we managed to get out for a walk on an overcast morning. We walked up to That Baby’s favourite park. It was amazing how still and quiet it was. Everybody was either at work or out of town for holidays, it seems, because it was quieter still than a regular work day morning. So we played there for awhile, and then began to explore. We followed a path into the nearby schoolyard, only to find a path leading through some trees to a hidden park. Houses were built around the perimeter of this grassy space, where there was a baseball field and a soccer field and some climbing equipment and a slide. It is all completely hidden from the roads and neighbourhoods around, and completely sheltered and green and quiet. We’ve lived here ten years, and walked by hundreds of times, and I never knew it was there. It’s like a secret garden.
  • My kid is a water baby. She loves to be in the water (provided it is warm enough). Just like her parents. I am amazed at how brave she is. Yesterday we went for our regular play date with our friends, and they suggested we go swimming in another friend’s pool. Well, hot and sunny… OF COURSE WE WILL. So we got there and got our gear on and off we went to the pool. Stinkerbelle went in without hesitation — well, a little hesitation, and she got used to the temperature of the water — and within minutes she was jumping in off the side of the pool. She has no problem going underwater, although her standard response to any exciting or interesting situation is an open-mouthed, open-armed “O-face”, and so whenever she’s excited and in the water, she ends up getting a snoot-full of water. So under she would go, and I’d haul her up and out and onto the pool side coughing and sputtering but grinning, where she would choke out “MORE! MORE! MORE!” and leap off the side again. She even went off the slide a few times yesterday. The kid’s part fish.
  • Stinkerbelle has some issues with eating — specifically, she won’t eat anything that is a) not pureed to some degree, or 2) not solid and crunchy. She likes the taste of almost everything we offer, but she can’t seem to handle the textures. This makes mealtime a challenge as she will choke on things, doesn’t chew, and will cry if she thinks she can’t handle swallowing something. She doesn’t self-feed much, because we’re so concerned with keeping her full and her weight up that we can’t afford to spill much. Mealtimes can take hours. So we have been concerned about this for some time. Related to this, her speech is not progressing as it should be. Her communication is advanced; her speech is not. So we’ve been stressing. On Wednesday, we finally got our appointment for an assessment with a KidsAbility team of an occupational therapist and a speech therapist. It was FANTASTIC. We were relieved to find that she hasn’t likely got any sensory disorder issues, because of the things she CAN do. So that was good. What we have learned is that she is delayed in eating and speech, most likely by the first five months she spent in the transition home in Ethiopia. As they had one standard size of bottles, nipples and soothers for all the children, it likely was too much for her to handle as an infant. That first 6 months of oral development is key, and hers was likely affected by the giant, fast-flow nipples and whatnot. Therefore, the sensors in her mouth did not get a chance to learn to cope properly with what she was being given, and she is still learning to cope with different shapes and textures, and learning what is safe and what she can handle. So, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we were relieved to find that it’s very easily remedied with time and patience.
  • Based on the assessment we had, which was so much fun — they played with Stinkerbelle and were so impressed by how bright and funny she is, and once they had her belly laughing they were COMPLETELY smitten — we got a few referrals. We’ll be seeing a speech therapist to work on speech and an occupational therapist to work on chewing and the technical stuff around eating. We’ll also be seeing a nutritionist to help us plan out her introduction of new foods and textures, as well as how to load up her food nutritionally until we get fully into the solid stuff. We’re also signed up to be part of an organization called Trellis, which is a huge community resource that we can use to find specialists, childcare resources, day cares, and other resources for us and for That Baby until she is school aged. It sounds really awesome. I never realized how much is out there for parents to access to help raise their kids. But my favourite part of the assessment was hearing the therapists say “Oh, we can’t WAIT to write up this assessment! It’s going to be so much fun! Stinkerbelle is just AWESOME!” It’s great to get validation that your kid is doing well, and that as a parent, you’re not screwing up. All that worry has just vanished, knowing that my kid is healthy and happy.
  • We are working on documentation for Stinkerbelle’s citizenship. (“Ontario — where paperwork is a way of life.”) After having our paperwork for her name change rejected THREE TIMES, once it finally came back we were all “SCREW YOU, GOVERNMENT” and could not face doing any more for a little while. But now we are back at it, and we needed some photos for our citizenship application. So off we went to the mall to get photos done. And let me tell you, taking passport photos of a toddler is no mean feat. The photographer got her to stand atop a step stool. Keeping a toddler ON a step stool, and still enough to photograph is, we have learned, a LOT of work. We had to make sure Daddy was not in the shot, so holding her up there while keeping out of camera sight took some coordination. Then, we had to get her looking AT the camera, which involved me standing behind the cameraman, who was waving a fuzzy toy bunny at her, and me also waving a toy, and simultaneously calling her name, snapping fingers and/or clapping. We finally got a shot fit to print. And, having seen it, now we don’t want to give it away to the citizenship people, because it is so CUTE.

A busy week, to be sure. But it was a good one. And now, the humidest, rainiest day of the summer thus far is upon us. So, aside from a trip to the grocery store (if we even do that), it will be nice to have a down day.

7 thoughts on “On The Go

  1. T has the same issues around food and speech. Is there anything concrete you are doing, or just continuing to encourage? I was going to bring our concerns up with our Ped next month, but it is definitely a sign of something that they both have exactly the same issues.

  2. We will be seeing the speech therapist and the OT both, but we will also be doing exercises around speech and eating. I would recommend getting an assessment, just to rule out any oral input or sensory spectrum disorders.

    The first exercise we have for speech: don’t say “say X”. It confuses kids who are struggling, because what was one word that they are trying to say comes from you as a two-word structure. They will mimic repeating a word; they WANT to do it… so just say the word you want them to say slowly and clearly over and over a few times. Then the same applies when you move up to two-word structures. We’ll get more exercises once we get our paperwork from the ST, and then when we start formal ST visits.

    As for the eating, we are just going to proceed slowly, week by week, with the introduction of foods, until we start seeing an OT and get some exercises. Because she’s eating mixed texture things already — so, regular oatmeal, finely minced veggies with soft rice and pureed meat mixed in, or chopped up spaghetti and sauce, that kind of thing. The mixed textures are a BIG hurdle, but she’s fine with it. So, let’s say this week we are starting with cheese. We’ll cut up some little sticks of cheese, and put them on the table in front of her where she can see them, not even on her tray. They’re just there. Every day. Then the next week, we’ll move them to her tray. Then to her plate. Then, maybe we’ll smell them. Then touch them. Then try tasting. A slow progression, one food/texture at a time, until it becomes normal. The other exercises we are to do are hand textures, to help normalize them so it helps all the senses (particularly her mouth). So, hiding things in playdoh or a bucket of rice. Fingerpainting with pudding or yogurt (she does this already). Water balloons. Sand. All the textures she can experience then get normalized over time so her mouth will have an easier time accepting them.

    But like I said, an assessment will rule out a lot of factors and, if there is a disorder of some kind happening, then all this stuff can exacerbate the problem if you don’t know where to start, and make everybody miserable.

  3. Thanks! We have actually had three OT assessments in the past year and they have never been concerned about anything, saying these “little things” would all improve with time. Seeing your post just got me thinking that at 21 months I was hoping we would be farther along than we are with these issues. I will mention it again to our Ped and see if she wants another OT assessment or maybe a speech therapist. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wow, three assessments, and they didn’t think to help you out with this? That must be so frustrating! Especially since it is a relatively easy fix.

    Definitely pursue the speech therapist — it’s apparently a great experience, from all the parents I’ve spoken to who have done it. And also, get an audiologist consult too, just to be on the safe side. That’s one thing I forgot to mention in my post, but we’re going to see one, just to make sure there’s no fluid causing her hearing to be muffled or anything.

    Good luck!

  5. Oh, THE FOOD ISSUES! I think that’s been the hardest thing for me. We can’t afford for any calories to be wasted, like you, so I’ve ended up feeling very paranoid about every single meal. For awhile Dinke thought it was funny to throw up if she didn’t like something. Totally intentional vomiting, which you can’t recognize until you’ve actually seen it. It was horrible. Ugh…I could go on and on about this, but it’s your blog, so I won’t. Rest assured I share your pain!

  6. We had to get passport photos – and it is a killer – get them to LOOK at you but not SMILE at you. AI AI AI AI AI…. what a drama. Who knew?!

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