Of the many appointments we have with Elias, my favorite has to be physical therapy. I've learned so much in the few times we've gone and feel like I can effectively play wiht a baby instead of making strange noises and waving endless toys to elict a smile or reaction, It's amazing to me how God has made reflexes that naturally teach an infant so much to make crawling and walking possible. I thought I'd share a few things I'd learn, but keep in mind this is a lay person's attempt at explaining
When we first heard that infants had physical therapy (PT) we were a little surprised. After all, they just kind of lay there, right? Apparently not, learning and growth is occuring all the time so we had to learn what motivated them. In children with Down Syndrome, the muscle tone is low and therefore will often just lay there with very little movement. Elias was blessed to have more tone than is typical so it was a matter of helping that along.
Tracking (or where the eyes follow a moving object) is one of the first things they do. But I'm sure you've all waved a toy in front of an infant only to get a glazed expression. Apparently before 3 months of age, the typical child sees constrast more so the colorful toys you offer are yet to be appealing. Our PT used a toy with flashing lights which quickly got Elias' attention and he'd turn his head to just see the object. We used this alot since he had a tendancy to turn only to one side, leaving the other muscles on the other side underdeveloped. Despite his attractive toys he still tended to the one side and we had to place him right up against a wall. Supposedly it gives a rather suffocating feeling without fail he looks upward and when he's bored he turns to the weaker side.
I love his hair!
I gave Elias alot of tummy time, something that almost all babies hate initally. The head is nearly 1/3 of their body and rather heavy so it's amazing to see how quickly they can gain the strength needed to hold it up. Elias took a while to figure out how to put his arms forward, and grunted and strained much like a beached whale. With a little practice though he figured it out and now Isaac loves to cheer him on when he does his 'baby push-ups'. Being the bright little cutie he is he used stronger arm and leg to roll back over onto his back to avoid tummy time.
Gently pushing downward on their lower back to stretch the muscles can encourage them to lift their heads. Be warned though, it tends to release alot of gas and Keila and Isaac had a few giggles when this happened.
At some point they begin something my PT, Sarah calls a warrior pose. As they lay on their back and look in the direction of the out stretched are and the opposing arm becomes bent. This is really a point where they're moving towards rolling from their back to their stomach as the bent arm will reach over to the opposing side. Sarah taught me rotate his hips and to tickle Elias side to get him to do this. He hates being on his stomach and will resist by wiggling like a worm until he whips his arm over to keep you from tickling his side and momentum takes over.
He's Mr. Bobble-head no more!
Who knew so much happened in the first 4 months of life! Most of this occurs on their own so that they're able to sit up and begin eating solids. It amazes me all that is possible. Obviously in Elias' case, some of this if not all will be delayed but it makes reaching each milestone ever so much more to celebrate because we worked so hard to get there. He often comes back after these PT appointments utterly exhausted. He may be little, but I'm ever so proud of him as he works harder than the average child to grow and learn. He's my darling little man!