Tuesday, April 23, 2013

This little guy is 4! Octonauts Party!

J has finally turned FOUR!  Very exciting around here, lots of talk of being a big boy now.. and he really is, he can do pretty much everything for himself now.  He also gets to move to a booster seat in the car which is pretty exciting.

We had an Octonauts themed party for him this year.  This involved a sea theme through the house - green and blue crepe streamers around the lounge room, green and blue helium balloons with curling ribbon dangling from each one.  We almost had to remove the balloons as we lost about 4 at the very beginning and the birthday boy was VERY fearful of more popping!

We put out J's new Octonaut toys for the kids to play with (bit risky but worked out well with our bunch of kids).  There were also other boy toys such as trains and cars and the kids had a ball just playing on their own.  We had Octonauts hats for the kids to wear.  We had a couple of activity stations:

    Bean bag throw:  I made the bean bags with fabric square pouches and rice which counts this as a small sewing activity! Yay Mum!  The kids stood about a metre away and threw the bags into hoola hoop rings on the ground.

    Egg and spoon races:  This was tricky with 4 year olds but this set from ELC is just fantastic for use with little kids where they can put the egg back together and carry on.  The kids loved it and the winners received little medals at the end.

    The cake was a Kwazaii cake and the inspiration came from AJAntics - AJ has an absolutely brilliant post on the Octonauts party she threw for her little boy.  The cake decorations are licorice strap, licorice (Natural Confectionary brand which I was so excited to find!!), marshmallow halves and a pink smartie for the nose.  Decorating was the easy part, its actually cutting the shape and icing it all together that is hard!

    Here is our birthday boy getting ready to blow out the candles!!

    Here is the birthday boy opening up some presents after the party.  Oh, he LOVES that buzz outfit that his friend gave him :)

    Happy 4th birthday beautiful boy!!!

    Saturday, April 13, 2013

    Apraxia / Dyspraxia - Part 2

    Food sensitivity

    When we were first finding out about J's delays, I found out that I had a food intolerance to sulphite preservatives in food.  I then started to realise that J was reacting to the same foods as me.  We changed the whole family diet around, removing sulphites (E220-228) and also reducing the amount of additives and colours in our diet too.  Mostly it means avoiding processed foods (junk food) and eating more wholesome meals of meat and vegetables.  I feel that this made a big difference to things with J - he had always looked somewhat confused/conflicted and the dietary changes seemed to help clear his head.  We made the food changes in December 2011 so we've been on it over a year now.  I do realise that his attention span improvements may have happened through maturity and age but I always felt I knew when he'd eaten badly, that he'd get his foggy head back and would pull back on his speech etc.  It wasn't until later on in my research that I read that it was thought that children with Apraxia were more likely to have a food intolerance/allergy.  If you Google "Apraxia food intolerance" you'll get plenty more comments on this.  I do think that you need to be wary of strident health claims - hey, we're all looking for a miracle cure and its too easy to be taken for a ride on this journey - so my advice would be to try some elimination diets and see if you feel a difference has been made or not.

    Speech Therapy

    We have been recommended to use Cued Articulation and/or Prompt for speech therapy (Apraxia).  We went with Prompt and have a very lovely therapist now but we did have to test our relationship with others beforehand.  For us, we needed a lot of behavioural help as well - my little guy just would not sit still and if you gave him an inch he'd be off and running around the room trying to find his own activities.  We used visual cues and had rewards for the end of the sessions (free play with favourite toy).  We also found a therapist who worked out how far she could push him and who got him sitting down in the one spot.  J really responded to the touch used in Prompt therapy - it was like a lightbulb moment for him, he understood this and his sounds were coming out right when this therapy was used.  I can only imagine how miraculous that moment must have been for him.  We made some great gains at the beginning of therapy.. we still do but its very slow, slower then I expected it would be.  Its really hard for him, so hard that he does not like to practice with me.. thank goodness for chocolate and bribery!

    Challenging Activities

    We've made particularly good progress in January of this year when J dropped his daytime naps.  I don't know why that mattered (he'd always been very big in needing those naps) but after dropping them he seemed to grow in maturity and purpose.  It was also school holidays and we had a lovely vacation by the beach, so he had both his parents around and full exposure to his big sister who had just finished her first year of school (so he's missed seeing her).  We also put him into kindergarten this year (with slightly older kids) and he relishes it!  J is VERY motivated by his peers.  This peer interaction seems to give him a much better motivation to practice his sounds and words - I can't rate our paediatrician highly enough who gave us this advice to put him in with older kids.

    J has just turned 4 so I will put up some birthday pics next post and then I reckon I've got one more post on Apraxia stuff and then will put my mind towards some sewing!! :)

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    Apraxia / Dyspraxia - Part 1

    OK, this post has been a long time coming.  It might well explain why my craft blog has dwindled a bit as I've had a bit more on my plate.  We're a fair bit down the track though, so most of this is just summary.  I guess I feel better about talking about it now as I feel I finally "know" what is going on.

    My son has Apraxia / Dyspraxia - two different words that are used to describe the same thing.  I do prefer to use Apraxia, its just slightly nicer to say. 

    We first noticed a delay with J's crawling and sitting and it was quite clear that he did not talk very much, barely made any sounds at 18 months.  We had some testing done and found that J wasn't hearing very well because he had 'glue ear'.  We swiftly moved to having an operation and had grommets put in J's ears (21 months).  After the grommets were put in we saw improvements in J's balance and he started walking unaided about a month later (roughly 22 months).  The surgeon told me they got a LOT of gunk out of his teeny little ears.  However, his ability for speech and even sounds didn't improve.  The hearing test now came up fine and the ENT said that something else was going on which we needed to investigate.  Initially we were told he had a global developmental delay.  We started seeing a speech therapist to help with his talking.  He was quite young and we mainly worked on alternative communication (Makaton signing and PECS) and on extending his attention span (this little guy did not like to stop and sit still for very long!).  We were often told that it looked like Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS).  Eventually our speech therapist told us that she was a generalist speechie and that we needed someone specific for Apraxia (3 1/2 years).  She suggested that we try PROMPT speech therapy.  The PROMPT speech therapy is a very hands-on process where the jaw and mouth are moulded to help the child make the right shapes/sounds with their mouth.  Apparently there is some neurological feedback that the child gets from the touch on the face as well.  J really responded to this new therapy and he started to make bigger gains.  I'll explain more about where he's at in another post.

    I intend to take a little diversion from the craft stuff and talk a little about the Apraxia for a little bit.. I'll be back with more.