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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

WarriorTherapy Mom's Blog

Mr. Sugar, age 4

This is copied from WarriorTherapy Mom's Blog at http://www.warriortherapymom.blogspot.com/  I found her blog when I started blogging.  I was truly inspired by her writing, her passion and her committment to her little man.  She reminded me of myself, or at least of who I want to be.  I am sharing her latest post with her permission~it was too good not to share with others.  I pray that I can write a similar entry when my Luke turns 4.  ;)

What a year this has been. On January 1, 2010, Mr. Sugar had just turned three. He had five words and still only a handful of sounds. For the most part, he was totally nonverbal. His level of activity (proprioceptive sense) was off the charts. He was very aggressive and very frustrated. He could NOT sit still. The only speech therapy he would participate in was play based therapy. My husband and I were praying a lot. He was going to speech 4 times a week and OT 1 to 2 times per month. He also participated in an after school class for receptive language and not to far into the year we started music therapy one time a week. We had just been given the diagnosis of Apraxia of Speech. I was confused, worried, felt like I was the only mom out there going through this, exhausted and praying for the best possible outcome.
Fast forward- Mr. Sugar just turned 4. We are now in a better spot than I or anyone of his therapists may have imagined. Now, people who meet him have no idea the journey we have been on and those who have not seen him in awhile can not believe the progress that has been made. They keep reminding me that his progress has been astounding and better then anyone had expected. We just had him tested to see where his expressive and receptive language is. They completed three tests.

The first test was an articulation test. (Articulation Goldman Fristoe 2) One year ago (he had just turned three) he was at a 9-12 month level. Now he tested at age level. He can make all the sounds an average 4 year old should make. WOW!

Next they tested his vocabulary. (I forgot the name of this one) One year ago they could not complete this test because he was nonverbal. Now he scored where a 4 year old should score in vocabulary. Again, he is at age level- Amen!

Finally, they tested his comprehension and general receptive and expressive language skills. (PLS4 test) One year ago this test indicated that he had a huge gap between his expressive and receptive language. Now, he has closed the gap and his receptive and expressive scores were almost the same. He has made huge strides, but did score a little below age level on this one. He missed questions like- 'Point to the black cat with the red sweater that is sleeping'. He was then shown a set of pictures including a white cat in a red sweater sleeping and a black cat in a red sweater jumping and a black cat with no sweater sleeping. You get the idea. Since he was a little behind on this test, the speech therapists will now focus on auditory processing, in addition to using his expressive language appropriately in communication with others.

Going back to the proprioceptive sensory issues (what others may see as hyperactivity). One year ago he was bouncing off the walls many of the time. He was more aggressive and frustrated. A year ago he wore his weighted vest for maybe 5 hours a day. We used a weighted blanket at home when he needed to calm down and sometimes when he watched TV. We did lots of "proprioceptive therapy" at home: jumping in a bounce house, trampoline, wheel barrel walking, carrying heavy items, etc. A year ago, speech therapy was partially about getting him to focus on what they were even doing in the session. It was all play based because he would not sit on a chair for 5 minutes and focus.

Fast forward- Now, he only wears the vest during the time at preschool when he needs to focus (maybe 1 hour) and sometimes at speech therapy. He doesn't like or need the other weighted therapy anymore. In addition he doesn't want to wear the vest in front of others. He has become extremely aware of others attitudes towards his vest and doesn't want to be seen as different. (This is when I surely wish people- often times adults- would not judge the vest) During his speech sessions he focuses for long periods of time at a table and works just on comprehension and articulation. He is learning how to help himself calm down and focus when there are too many outside inputs. He is so much more gentle with others and so happy. You can just tell how much less frustrated he is in his daily life.

He is the hardest working boy I know. We are still going to speech 4 days a week and OT once a month (for his high proprioceptive sense). I am not sure how long we will need to go 4 days a week, but right now he is growing and learning in leaps and bounds. I guess as long as I don't go crazy driving to speech and as long as he loves to go, we will continue. He is doing awesome in school and it makes my heart smile to see him interacting with the other children. He has come so far and while we still have room to improve (as does every child) we are in such a good spot right now and thus I don't have as much to blog about anymore. We no longer do music therapy and we don't use any state therapy anymore.  In general things are all going relatively well. My biggest difficulties with Mr. Sugar as of late are typical 4 year old boy things- I guess thank goodness for that!

And I am in a completely different spot myself.

One year ago I would have described myself as an emotional wreck and totally overwhelmed. I started this blog to reach out to other parents across the country to try to connect with and feel not so alone on our journey. So many of you have written me beautifully uplifting comments and emails. Thank you all for helping me learn and grow this year.

This blog was an incredible outlet for me to vent, to reflect and sometimes ask for suggestions. I have learned so much this year about myself and am in a stronger place now than ever. I am SO SO thankful for this journey! I have become a better mother to both of my children and all around more zen- like.

I wish you all the best on your journeys. I am going to take a break from blogging (as I don't have as much to talk about anymore) and concentrate on enjoying all the precious moments with my kiddos. While our therapy journey is not totally over, WE are ALL in a much more "ZEN" spot. So, I guess we found some Zen in 2010. Bring on 2011!

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