Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sadie's first OT

After our experience with PT on Tuesday, I didn't really know what to expect with OT. But we already had some positive things: 1. I'd met our OT before and knew she liked Sadie, 2. She was coming to our home, so we'd be in a comfortable environment and no car screaming, and 3. She's a woman. Call me sexist, but I just think women are more naturally gentle and sensitive to babies, maybe it's hormonal...

Sadie had an okay night last night, but she woke up way too early, and I got her to go to sleep for another hour or so, but still, she was going to be ready for a nap, right in the middle of therapy. Then I realized why she was awake...there was poop ALL OVER the bed!! (that's a new place we haven't had poop yet!) So, I got her up, cleaned her off, stripped the bed, started the laundry, put some clothes on her (and me) and just as I was starting to eat my breakfast the doorbell rang! It was okay, though, because Sadie was in a good mood, and that's what mattered. This is Jessica, she is out Occupational Therapist (and she reminds me a lot of Bethany Jennings, don't you think?)

Jessica brought this orange foam wedge with her, and the first thing we did was use it for tummy time. You can see here that Sadie wasn't in the mood to lift her head up. Brian got her to do it, but I didn't get the picture because the camera battery died and I was switching it. One thing we've noticed is that when Sadie is mad or not feeling well, she can't be made to lift her head, even when she's being held. That PT we visited Tuesday, he said that when she has such a powerful emotion it takes over in her brain and her motor skills shut down. So, it's not that she won't lift her head, it's more like she forgets she knows how. Anyway, she doesn't look too upset here, so I don't know what her problem was!

When Jessica came to do the eval, we talked about how Sadie really likes the bouncy chair. Today she asked about that and she taught me a new word: vestibular. (another thing I like about Jessica is that she didn't assume that I didn't know what vestibular meant, because she understood that I know a lot about my child.) Your vestibular system is related to your inner ear and mainly effects your balance and spatial orientation. You can read more about it here. The immaturity of Sadie's vestibular system could be why she likes the bouncy chair so much, it resets her with the rhythmic, organizational movement, and she perceives order through that and is able to calm down. But our concern is that she's about outgrown the bouncy chair, and once she can sit unassisted, it will no longer be safe for her to sit there, so what do we do then? She showed us how we can make a blanket like a hammock and swing her back and forth, which stimulates and resets that vestibular system. Granted, it's a lot more work, and it takes two people, but it might be all we've got until she can regulate herself.

One of Sadie's big goals is to be aware of and use her hands. So, Jessica put this ring on Sadie's arm to try to get her to recognize something is there and bring her arms together in an effort to remove that ring. Of course, Sadie can't do that yet, but she did move her arm across her body as if she was trying to get that ring off. She seemed to be aware of it, so that's good. This is definitely something we can practice more. She even showed us how if we lay Sadie on her side it encourages bringing those hands together and that will help.

One thing she said was that Sadie seems to still be stuck in many of her newborn reflexes, so positioning her body and repeating motions (like reaching out to touch something, rolling, sitting up, etc.) will teach her brain to USE her muscles, not just succumb to reflexes. I bet you didn't realize all this reorganization and brain-training happens in your child, because most children's brains learn to do this stuff with minimal assistance. My child, however, is going to need a lot of help with these things, but I'm confident she'll get them eventually!

She also worked on loosening up Sadie's legs. She is very tense all the time, so we tried to put her on her hands and knees, with legs bent (crawling position). She didn't last long...but we did more after Jessica left and Sadie took a little nap.

She worked on sitting with Sadie, which we do a lot of. Sadie is very close to doing this on her own, and I bet in another couple of weeks she'll get it. It's a hip-relaxing thing that's holding her back. Because of Sadie's high tone, she can't (won't?) turn her hips/knees out, which she needs to do to sit.

Jessica also came bearing gifts. She gave us this new toy that vibrates. It's supposed to vibrate as a reaction to a baby biting it. But I guess having the vibration in the mouth helps with that oral aversion. Sadie, of course, being how she is about things in her mouth (which is precisely why we need this toy), didn't bite down hard enough to make it vibrate. So, Jessica had to squeeze it and put it in Sadie's mouth. I think she kind of liked it!

Overall, it was pretty low-key. Definitely no screaming, working with Sadie at her own pace instead of forcing her, and lots of letting her adjust to new things. I'm looking forward to having OT again, I think Sadie will really start making progress quickly now!

P.S. I talked to our therapies coordinator from the State and she said I should definitely not go back to that PT! But the good news is that he did the eval so we can take that eval wherever we decide to go and start therapies. We don't have to start all over from the beginning. We're on a bunch of waiting lists, so hopefully someone will call soon!


  1. I am a friend of the Newbolds and Elisabeth has been keeping us informed about Sadie's development. The OT session is great! That's what should be happening! I am also a PT. I was so angry when I read about your PT experience I needed to write. Get a new PT. Ask your OT for a recommendation - we often work or go to continuing ed together. Try talking to your local school systems Director of Special Education and see who they use or call a nearby Children's Hospital and ask the director of PT for a local recommendation. Having a recommendation may also get you into a place that was " not accepting" new patients. Your instincts are right, that PT was a disgrace - many of the things you describe showed his lack of understanding or lack of respect for Sadie's unique sensory needs. Above all else don't let the influx ofall these therapists overwhelm you - you are Sadie's mother and her primary "therapist.

  2. Sadie is such a cutie! She is doing so great and is very lucky to have parents that love her so much. I'm so glad you are able to do these therapies with her.