Sunday, June 17, 2012

Doctors and Therapists and Teachers, OH MY!

Sam is so engaged during his sessions,
it's great to see him connect and
make great eye contact!
Sam has had a busy couple of weeks as we get rolling with our summer therapy and special education schedule.  So many people have asked me what types of therapy you can do with a two-month old infant and how it can benefit them, and truth be told - I wasn't even sure of the answer.  So I asked and did a little research...and I learned.  Now I know. (a little bit anyway)

We are teaching Sam to suck on his hands to strengthen
the muscles in his cheeks and tongue to aid in speech
development down the road.
We meet with Sam's Occupational Therapist about every other week this summer.  Sam is a real trooper!  During our sessions, our OT flips him this way and that trying out some different exercises with him.  With a diagnosis of Down syndrome, it is known that there will be delays in Sam's development - delays in cognitive, sensory, motors skills and communication to name a few. The purpose of early intervention is to help ensure success later in Sam's life.  We take for granted the natural progression of other children when they move from rolling over, to sitting up, to standing and finally walking.  Sam will rock all of these everyday tasks someday, but it's going to take work.  For a really great explanation of the benefits of early intervention, check out this link - it covers all the basics for you.

On the 6th of June, Sam had his two month checkup.  He weighed in at 11 lb 2 oz and 23 1/2 inches.  He's finally  growing!  I can even say we are starting to see the beginning of what looks like a fat roll folks!  When it's fully formed, I'll snap a picture!  The doctor listened to his heart and lungs and everything sounded in tip top shape, which we were relieved to hear.  He's in the 25th percentile for weight and 50th for height, which is all new to us because all three of the girls were in the 90th and 95th percentile for height and weight most of their first years.  Babies with Down syndrome are generally born at a "normal" size, but tend to grow slower physically than many of their peers.  The average adult male with Down syndrome measures in at 5 feet 2 inches.  Sam could likely be taller than that, because although he has a different genetic makeup than you or I, he still has Kevin's genes, and well, at 6 foot 4 inches, Kevin will probably pass some of that height on to Sam.

Studies have shown that children with Downs have a lower basal metabolic rate, which means that over the course of a day they will burn less calories than other children.  Obesity is often associated with adults with Down syndrome and sometimes children as well.  It's important to watch diet and activity levels to be sure that extra pounds don't sneak up on Sam.  It will be our job to make sure that Sam's diet is good and his activity levels are high.  Of course, just trying to keep up with his sisters should help with keeping activity levels up there!

Sam also had to have a variety of vaccinations at this checkup.  Before we went ahead with any vaccinations though, I asked about the use of mercury to preserve the vaccinations.  I have heard and read that some people believe there is a correlation between vaccines with mercury and Autism.  I truthfully don't know if I agree or disagree with that theory, but with the fact that 1 in every 10 kids with Down syndrome can have Autism as well, I'd like to take every precaution possible.  In children without Downs, the rate is 1 in every 100, so it's a pretty significant increase in occurrence among kids with Downs.  I was informed by the nurse that our clinic and hospital are now using all mercury-free vaccinations, so check, one less thing to worry about.  That's not to say that Sam won't have Autism, but if mercury-free vaccinations are one way to help avoid it, we've done our part in that department.

Generally, the weeks that we don't have OT, we meet with Sam's special education teacher.  This past visit wasn't real great, as Sam was having an off day and didn't want to do much of anything other than put his head on my shoulder.  On a good day though, during his special ed meetings, we do fun activities with him like singing, playing peek a boo, introducing him to different sounds and textures and work more on some similar exercises from OT.

Everything we do with Sam is part of a set of goals that us as his parents, and his teachers and therapists have set for him.  We all have an idea of what we'd like to see him do this first year, but in reality, Sam's in charge of our pace.  If he decides there's no way in the world he's going to bring his feet to his mouth, that's that.  But there are other things he's already doing ahead of schedule, like rolling over and bringing his hands midline.

Each new stage brings new hopes and goals, and each accomplishment brings us a sense of pride.  Instead of reading the "text" books that tell us what he should or shouldn't be able to do, I think we'll let Sam write his own text book...I know there will be many wonderful chapters.

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