Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Small Things Add Up

A few days ago, I awoke to the sound of crinkling plastic. It was about 4 in the morning. I got out of bed, wondering what in the world it could be. What I saw was certainly a surprise, and a great one at that! David had turned 180 degrees and crawled off his "floor-bed," found the suction catheter and was playing with it. Progress, sweet progress!

I keep a journal of David's newest activities and this post is dedicated to sharing the progress he has made in the last two months. The fact that I write something down in there almost daily has been great motivation. It is difficult to know precisely what treatments or therapy in particular have brought about specific types of improvements, but I imagine that somehow, they are all working together to help heal his brain.

Each day, it seems as if David is doing more. Many of the things he is already able to do have become more frequent and consistent:
  • Lifting his head in prone position
  • Moving his arms and legs in prone position
  • Pushing on the floor with his hands during tummy time, sometimes with both simultaneously
  • Vigorously trying to roll over from supine to prone position by swinging his arms
  • Moving and lifting his legs more while in supine position
  • Moving toes and fingers
  • Grabbing his hair
  • Swallowing correctly and more frequently (moving secretions down the esophagus as opposed to the trachea) and anticipates swallowing emotionally (On 4/17 he swallowed four times in a ten mintue period. On 4/24 he swallowed eight times in a thirty minute period.)
  • Biting down during when pressure is applied to his gums and applying more pressure when biting
  • Closing lips during oral stimulation (responding to Z-vibe and other tools, temperature and taste)
  • Moving eyebrows and facial muscles, especially more mouth closure
  • More blinking
  • Tracking up and down with his eyes and raising his eyebrows (noted by his physical therapist too)
  • Consistently responding to environmental sounds (The phone appears to be his favorite.)
  • More responsive to voice

David is also developing new abilities and these are also becoming more frequent:
  • During tummy time, turning his head from side to side while lifting it completely off the floor
  • Anticipating the incline floor by engaging neck, trunk and hip muscles and putting hands out to reach it.
  • Lifting his head and hips while sliding down the incline floor
  • Continuing to try and crawl when he reaches the bottom of the incline floor
  • Lifting his hips while in the prone position
  • Both his physical and occupational therapists have noted that he is looser in his hips and legs
  • His occupational therapist says it is easier to get him into different positions
  • I am now able to touch his hands to opposite knees and also hands to feet (and he enjoys this!)
  • Putting his hands on his legs
  • Crossing the midline with arms (one at a time, but we have seen it!)
  • When I help him roll into the prone position, he is starting to prop himself up on one arm and lift his head.
  • Pushing on my with his hands while I am holding him, also grabbing my arms and wrapping his left arm around my neck.
  • Engaging muscles during patterning, especially lifting head and bringing right knee forward.
  • Pushing back with his legs during joint compression and bearing weight in legs while on the exercise ball.
  • I am now able to hold David in the upright position consistently instead of the cradle hold (This has also provided him more opportunity to lift his head and to see his surroundings in motion, as well as manage his secretions.)
  • Marked enjoyment of tactile stimulation, especially on his hands, and in response to alternating hot and cold packs
  • More sensorily aware of his face and body, moving his arms and legs to feel his surroundings
  • Grabbing his face
  • Putting his hands in his mouth, responding with his lips and then responding with his hands (feedback loop)
  • Grabbing and reaching for faces, toys, his blanket and other objects, and responding emotionally (He is able to grip objects for longer amounts of time and takes his blanket with him when I roll him over. During trach care, he reached up and grabbed my shirt, little stinker!)
  • Responding vocally to story time and sing along songs, also tries to grab the book during story time
  • Responding to voice, especially his name (I jokingly told him to swallow and he looked at me and swallowed. Sometimes he will hear the word "swallow" and do it.)
  • Interest in visual patterns, three dimensional objects and movement (floral print on a dress, print on a Vera Bradley bag, Starbucks logo, metal can, Legos, Donnie running by, wind up toys).
  • Tracking from left to right
  • Looking at his own hands
  • Looking at people and responding emotionally and vocally
  • He recognized me from across the room (I waved at him and called his name and he made a face at me, pursing his lips.)
  • While carrying David around he house, he vocalizes in anticipation of entering a room.
  • Immediate response to oral stimulation
  • Following oral stim tools/finger with tongue
  • Tolerating his Passy Muir valve (last time was 30 minutes!)
  • Tone in facial muscles more relaxed
  • His subcutaneous layer feels more pliable throughout whole body
  • Vocal expression, especially excitement
  • Deeper breathing
  • Sleep and nap cycles appear to be deeper and more solid
  • While awake, David is significantly more energetic, alert and active

David's world is a lot more exciting these days

Tolerating the upright position. We are wearing blue for Autism Awareness Day, April 2.

David and Caesar, doing some dog-bead-Lego therapy

Lifting that head up and grabbing a mallet!

Conversation with Dad while wearing the Passy Muir

Determined to play with the Legos

Playing with Donnie's hair

One of the most significant changes in my opinion, is David's head growth. I see it as an indicator that he is using his brain and it is healing. At his most recent pediatrician visit, we found that in the last six months, his head has gone from the sixth percentile to the twenty seventh. A neurologist told us that brain injured children tend to experience short lived head growth. So far, David's head circumference is still increasing, and at a fantastic rate. Everyone who knows me has heard me talk about this frequently. It blows me away every time I think about it!

I am thankful for each new thing that David is able to do. I am glad The Institutes have provided a solid program for brain injured children, and thankful the work of Glenn Doman and his team. I am thankful for G-therapy and the work of Dr. Oswal and his team. I am thankful for Dr. Harch and his team and his knowledge of hyperbaric treatment. I am thankful for the caring therapists who work with David and the doctors who are open to the therapies mentioned above. I am thankful that all of this help is available to him. I am thankful that Emily is with us. I am thankful for all the wonderful and amazing people who have taken the time to come pattern and also to visit!

Having so many family and friends in our lives agree in faith for David's complete healing is making an impact and for that we are truly grateful! Most importantly, thanks be to God!


  1. I am so happy for you that all of your hard work is paying off. I am also so glad you are able to see joy and progress in the little things. So often as parents, we forget to celebrate the small steps.

  2. Shana~

    I am SO happy for you, your family and most of all DAVID!!! Every single one of those accomplishments is so insanely EXCITING! As I read, my smile just kept getting bigger and bigger. Thank you so much for this awesome update. Such a great way to start my day!!

    I LOVE the pictures with Caesar and also where David is playing with Donnie's hair. They are so cute!

    You guys are doing such an amazing job :o)