Charlie’s communication has improved lately. A few weeks ago, she started using “Yay!” in context. She has since built upon that initial skill. Her progress was apparent throughout today’s activities.
During music therapy, she was more vocal than usual. She played with toy animals that are used for props during Old McDonald. She picked up a cow and said, “Moo”. Later, the therapist instructed, “Go to mommy. Find mommy.” Charlie turned, crawled toward me, and climbed into my lap.
Next, we had lunch after music therapy. I tore off and handed her a manageable slice of grilled cheese. Mostly, she gnawed and kind of sucked on it. Then, she dropped it by accident. Rather than scream, she signed “More” to me. I obliged and handed her another piece.
Recently, Charlie has begun trying to repeat simple words. Some times, she does it. Other times, it’s a valiant effort. She continued to do this most of today as well. Most notably, she correctly sang “La la la la” with the characters in a video during a song.
Later in the evening, she called for her dad using “Dada” and holding out her arms. It was her second word.
Days like today are wonderful. It is exciting to be able to notice leaps of progress. Now, if only we can get her to eat (taking food up to her mouth is a huge step in the right direction).
Charlie cut her first tooth last night!
After a crazy night, we visited James River State Park. It was our thirteenth Virginia State Park. Charlie was busy playing most of the morning and early afternoon. Because she and I were alone, I did not get to take many pictures.
These are the pictures that I took…
There was a kids’ exploration area. Charlie practiced her standing (as suggested by the PT yesterday) in the stump garden. She also played with the drums, climbed on the logs, and played in the sand pit that was in the kids’ area.
She had her first fudgesicle and impromptu feeding therapy.
We wrapped things up by playing by the river.
Charlie did not learn several of her newly acquired skills from me, her dad, or her therapists. We tried. Oh, how we tried. We repeatedly used modeling, hand over hand, and anyway we could think of to teach her the skills. Regardless, Charlie did not master them. As it turns out, other kids are much better teachers at things like crawling and self feeding.
Charlie learned how to crawl during the baby story time at the library. It started when a baby broke loose from her mom and crawled across the circle towards Charlie. The embarrassed mom quickly wrangled the baby and apologized profusely. Immediately after Charlie saw the baby, she assumed the crawling position. She was unable to figure out how to propel herself forward. The sight of the crawling baby was an epiphany for Charlie. She continued to attempt to crawl until she mastered the commando crawl.
A few days ago, a toddler boy was eating pretzels while Charlie and I were at the park. Charlie watched him intently. He (and his mom) asked if he could give one to Charlie. After I gave my approval, the little boy handed a pretzel to Charlie. She played with it. The little boy wanted to know why Charlie was not eating the pretzel. His mom explained, “Because she does not know how to.” While his mom and I gabbed, he tried to teach Charlie how to eat the pretzel. It was very sweet how patient and understanding he was. She gave him her undivided attention but did not eat. At the most, I was able to hold it up to her mouth while she cautiously mouthed it.
Yesterday, Charlie had a not so great feeding therapy session. She smeared the banana on her tray and cried because her hands were sticky.
Afterwards, I went grocery shopping. I walked the aisles in search of things for Charlie to practice self feeding. The pretzels reminded me of the boy at the park. I purchased a bag along with a few other things. Once home, I dumped some pretzels on Charlie’s high chair tray to keep her occupied while I put away groceries. After a minute, there was not any of her usual banging or knocking. Panicked by the silence, I turned to see what Charlie was doing. She was feeding herself the pretzels! She did not stop even when she gagged and retched a little. That little boy did an amazing job teaching her.
When Charlie gets older, peer influence may not be such a wonderful thing. Currently, it may be what she needs in order to help her master otherwise challenging tasks.
Charlie seems to know when I’m starting to feign enthusiasm for her therapy. I think she may strategically choose those moments to master a skill. It is almost like she is saying, “Don’t give up on me!”. Similarly to the day she learned to use her arms, today was one of those days that she unexpectedly moved forward when I greatly needed it.
Because I did not sleep well last night (Charlie was restless and decided she needed a mid night feeding), I have been dragging through my routine today. Halfheartedly, I carried out her lunch time feeding therapy. Afterwards, I fed Charlie her bottle and seated her in her seat. She watched intently as I started to devour my lunch. As I often do when she seems interested in my food, I handed her a sliver of my grilled cheese sandwich. She grabbed it and stared at my blankly. In return, I maintained eye contact with her as I took a bite. I dramatically said, “MMMMMM, that’s so yummy!” as I chewed. She responded with a laugh and smile.
As I turned away, Charlie squealed. I looked and she had taken her piece up to her mouth. She was gumming on it and making her “mmmmm” noise. I cheered. She reveled in my delight. We (her feeding therapist, dad, and I) have been trying to teach her hand to mouth feeding for weeks. I suppose she decided that today was going to be the day. To have proof for her dad, I snapped a picture.
She continued to gum and gnaw at it. After transforming it into a manageable texture, she consumed about a quarter of what I gave her. In addition, I offered her a peach slice off of my plate (which did not turn out so well). She drifted off to sleep shortly afterwards. I found myself rejuvenated by the pleasant surprise.