Back to PT

by Kayte

The New Year means a new benefits cycle for insurance, so we were able to re-start Lola’s PT at the clinic. It was a happy reunion with our two favorite therapists. They were impressed with Lola’s progress over the last few months, and they really increased her workload. She worked on balance, did strength exercises, climbed stairs, navigated the obstacle course and stretched her legs. We’re looking forward to having this session back in our weekly rotation.

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Bright Star

by Kayte

After thirty-six sessions our insurance benefits finally ran out for the year, so today was our last day of private PT at the clinic. We had grown quite close to some of the therapists in the last six months and it was a bittersweet session. On the one hand we said “Hopefully we’ll see you next year!” [when the insurance restarts] but on the other hand it really would be better if Lola didn’t need extra PT. In the meantime Lola will continue to get PT at school and we will supplement with lots of park play and fun exercise.

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Run Lola Run

by Kayte

This is a new milestone for Lola – running! Up until recently she would speed-walk when she wanted to move quickly, but now she’s actually getting both feet up off the ground. And having fun doing it.


Therapy Approved

by Kayte

Lola hasn’t been been to physical therapy in a couple weeks because we’ve been waiting for our insurance to approve additional visits. We finally got the approval letter yesterday and were able to schedule a session for today. Lola (and Max) were SO excited to be back; they really love the therapists and the facility. The therapist said Lola was looking really strong, so hopefully we didn’t lose too much momentum over the break.

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Obstacle Course

by Kayte

Lola has been working very hard at physical therapy. We’ve been going three times per week for the last month, and we’re definitely seeing some progress. They’ve been working on a lot of strengthening of both her legs and arms, plus a lot of balance exercises. One of the biggest improvements is that Lola can walk up a step without holding onto a hand/railing (= balance + strength).

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 Best of all Lola loves going to therapy (and Max gets to play too). Lola really likes both of the therapists she works with and responds very well to their instructions. Sometimes getting Lola to participate in activity is half the battle so it’s nice to see her having fun and willingly participate in PT.

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Today was Lola’s first time using the kiddie treadmill and she did a great job! I wasn’t sure if she would understand it, but when the belt started moving so did Lola’s legs. The therapist kept increasing the speed faster and faster trying to get Lola into a run.

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Stair Climb

by Kayte

Lola’s first week of private PT went great. Lola responds really well to the therapists, and I like sitting in on her sessions so we can work on things at home. They’re focusing a lot on leg strength (see the ankle weights in the pics) and balancing on one leg. It’s not easy for her, but I definitely noticed improvements since our first session on Monday.

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PneumoVax 23

by Kayte

No rest for the party-weary. Max & Lola both went to school, then we took Lola to her first private PT session. Afterwards we stopped by the pediatrician’s office so Lola could get a PneumoVax shot. It’s a pneumonia vaccine that protects against 23 different kinds of pneumococcal. They are using it to test her immune memory. We will go back in 3-4 weeks for more bloodwork to see how Lola’s immune system reacted to the vaccine and hopefully that will tell us what we need to do next.


PT Eval

by Kayte

After Lola’s PICU stay she was having a hard time walking. Even though our doctor said it could take up to six weeks to recover, he still gave us a referral for private (insurance) physical therapy to augment the PT that Lola gets at school. I never posted an update, but after I came back from the wedding weekend Lola was miraculously walking better, pretty much back at baseline. (Brody credits this to two days of walking in the sand at the park.) When I talked to our pediatrician he still thought it would be a good idea for Lola to get some extra PT, so today we went to the new clinic for her initial evaluation. The therapist noticed that Lola tenses all her muscles to control her gait, which is why she moves so stiffly. The therapist wants to take a two-pronged approach of stretching at home to loosen Lola’s muscles while strengthening them during PT so Lola maintains control. They also recommended that we start with therapy three times per week. The therapist said there’s something about that number 3 – she notices a huge difference between 2 and 3 sessions a week (but not 3 and 4 session). So we’ll give it a try and see how it goes. Meeting with a therapist made me realize how hands-off we have been since Lola transitioned from Regional Center to the school district one year ago. We were very involved with therapy when the therapists came to our house every week, but we don’t see the school therapists very often so we’re a little more removed from the process. Hopefully we see some real improvement over the next few weeks with our 3X/week PT schedule.


Play-Doh

by Kayte

I finally broke down and bought Max & Lola some brand-name Play-Doh. The homemade stuff was great in theory, but it only lasted for a couple weeks (in the fridge) before it got messy and tough (or moldy). Now we have some on-hand for all occasions. The kids played with it for an hour and a half during child development therapy today. That’s the most focused I think I’ve ever seen them on one task.

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Gym Monkeys

by Kayte




CDS

by Kayte

We felt a little cooped up after the rainy weekend, so we met our Child Development Specialist (CDS) at the park for some sunny, outdoor therapy.

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The Gym

by Kayte

Last January we first started doing physical therapy at the gym. A year ago Lola wanted nothing to do with the swing, trampoline, rings, ropes, slides, or mats. Fast forward to 2015 and it’s amazing to see the progress she (and Max) have made. PT is now by far their favorite day.

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Zip Zoom

by Kayte

We are still totally loving our new-new OT. She is so good at getting the kids to focus on tricky fine motor tasks and giving them fun homework.

This week Max was to work on his vertical (zip) and horizontal (zoom) lines while Lola’s task was to draw in a circle (ring around the rosy). While this seems like just fun nonsense drawing, it actually hones Max & Lola’s pre-writing skills. To be able to write, you need to be able to draw straight & curved lines, and copy/imitate a figure.

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Transition Meeting

by Kayte

Today we had our transition meeting with the local school district to talk about preschools. Up until now Max & Lola’s therapy services have all been coordinated through a county program. When they turn three, those services transition to the school district in the form of a preschool program. Max & Lola will undergo an intensive evaluation with the school’s own therapists and teachers (child development, PT, OT, speech, PE, psychologist, etc.) to determine their ongoing needs. Based on that evaluation they may (or may not) be placed in a preschool program with a specially-trained teacher. The therapists would come into the classroom and work one-on-one during the school day.

Part of me just wants Max & Lola to graduate from all this therapy and be declared “caught up,” while the other part of me wants them to continue to get all the support they can get. We will know more after the evaluations. Either way I’m starting to get really excited about the thought of them going to preschool. Not JUST because I will have a few FREE mornings a week (although that concept is awesomely mind-boggling) but also because they just seem ready. I know Max will love it, and I think it will be very good for Lola’s growth. It’s the next big chapter in their childhood.


New OT

by Kayte

The new OT that we’ve been working with since April suddenly took a leave of absence, so now we have a new new OT. Our first session was last Saturday and the kids and I really liked her.

She agreed with our old-new OT that Max & Lola are both doing great with sensory perception and are ready for more social interaction. However, I was surprised to learn how far behind Lola is with her fine motor skills. Her most recent evaluation put her fine motor skills in the 3-6 month range with spikes up to 10 months. That’s a pretty significant delay. I’m a little upset that we haven’t been focusing on that more these past months, but am happy that it’s at the forefront now. Max has good foundational fine motor skills, but they need to be fine-tuned to his age level.

The new-new OT is really great about explaining the why behind her therapy activities. She also helps us focus by assigning one specific task for “homework.” Last week Max worked on drawing horizontal & vertical lines (vs random scribbling) and Lola practiced opening a ziplock bag (which takes a lot of strength/coordination for her). This week Max is supposed to practice using one hand to stabilize something while his other hand performs an action (such as holding his plate while trying to stab with a fork). Lola’s homework is pretty fun – picking up coins and putting them into a piggy bank. She sat doing it today for a long time, and didn’t even try to eat any coins. Kind of amazing.

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Piggy hugs!


Park Therapy

by Kayte

We doubled up on therapy today and met both our occupational therapist (OT) and child development specialist (CDS) at the park. It sure is nice getting out of the house with an extra set of hand(s) to help chase the kiddos around.

The new nap schedule is going great. Being at the park at 10am is SO much more pleasant (cooler) than at 1pm. And after a full morning of play, Max & Lola are ready to crash for a few hours in the afternoon.

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Another family was nice enough to let Us borrow this very cool push-car. Max & Lola took turns pushing and riding.


Speech Session

by Kayte

Today’s speech therapy went better than last week. Lola was able to concentrate on two whole rows on two different worksheets, which was a big improvement over last time. We’ve also been practicing at home, and she’s much more willing to sit and focus for a few minutes at a time than when we first started.

I talked to the therapist a bit more and asked lots of questions. The purpose of the worksheets is not necessarily to perfect a “t” or “p” sound. Lola is able to make those sounds, but she has a tendency to leave off the end of words when she talks. So we’re trying to get her to slow down, focus a little more and close off the ends of her words to make them more intelligible.

We have decided to stay with our current therapist for now. Even if we don’t prefer her style, the main concern is whether or not it is effective. In the last month I have noticed a big boost in both Max & Lola’s language. They’re putting together 2-3 word phrases, using verbs & adjectives, and picking up a lot of new vocabulary. We’ve been working at it a lot at home, but the therapist is the one giving us guidance. So maybe it’s just the little boost that we all need.

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Slide

by Kayte

PT is so much fun these days. Max & Lola did lots of walking, climbing, jumping, and sliding! I feel so fortunate that we’re able to use this great facility.

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Articulation

by Kayte

Lola finally had her first speech therapy session today. It was just okay. Max has had two sessions already which has been enough for my gut instinct to kick in. I’m definitely not feeling this therapist, but due to some issues with our insurance I’m afraid we may be stuck with her.

On the one hand she is working toward getting Max & Lola to slow down and focus a little more, use their words instead of hands, complete a task before moving on to the next. All good qualities, except Max & Lola are pretty normal two-year olds and don’t exactly have an attention problem.

On the other hand, she keeps them strapped in a high chair for the entire session and tries to direct the activities based on what she wants to do, not what seems to interest Max & Lola. It’s completely not engaging. Honestly I’m bored myself 30 minutes into a session.

For example, this week the therapist wants Lola to work on annunciating the last consonant in her words. We’re supposed to practice using a “T” sound. Dot. Hat. Knot. Light. Net. The therapist gave us the following worksheet and we’re supposed to sit down and say the words and then stamp/color the pictures we’ve done. Lola pretty much wants nothing to do with the high chair, paper, or stamps. So instead I’ve been incorporating the activities into our play time. If we’re playing with a toy cat, I’ll have Lola practice saying “Cat.” It just seems so much more organic and natural than sitting down and doing what feels like “homework.” At age two.

I’ve talked to quite a few people about it and it sounds like there are two schools of speech therapy though. The first is very textbook, focused, directed, exercises. The second is more organic, incorporating learning into play. From all our experience with many different types of therapy I have to say I much prefer the natural/play approach. But unfortunately it seems like we may be stuck with the drill sergeant approach. Luckily Max and Lola are not so delayed in their speech as to make me overly concerned. I guess only time will tell if this more rigid approach is effective or not.


Early Learning Center

by Kayte

In our quest to get out of the house for OT, today we found ourselves at a local Early Learning Center. The facility has a little library, a tree house, an art/drawing area, pretend play (dress up, kitchen, doll house, trains), music, and an outdoor space with a garden, sandbox, climbing structure and water play.

Max & Lola both had a blast. The sand and water were big hits, as were the kitchen, slide, and climbing things. Although it was a neat place, the OT said she prefers the sensory gym and the park, which both offer a lot more in terms of motion/movement. It’s always good to get out and explore new things though.

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