Friday, July 17, 2015

Life Lately | Part II

(Part I here...)

Because life would be boring if Jude was the only one needing extra assistance, Sloane decided she'd hop on the bandwagon!  It all started with this picture I posted on Instagram three months ago...

Since Sloane was a year old, people have commented on her long legs.  When standing on tip toes, she's always looked so graceful.  It makes us laugh because a) neither of us had long legs as toddlers (instead they were short and very, very chunky) and neither of us are graceful.  Scratch that, Michael is extremely coordinated.  Me?  I constantly trip while walking.  But back to the Instagram picture.

It was a sweet moment I was lucky to capture.  A few of my IG friends commented on Sloane's legs and I replied that she always looks graceful on her toes but, like her dad, severely overpronates while walking. And then reason #452 why I love social media: Tracey, a fellow twin mom friend, left the following comment:  Funny you mention the pronation... being a pediatric PT that's the first thing I notice on kiddos.  I always wondered if she was clumsy.  You may consider an insert. We use SureStep SMOs here in Indy for kiddos who overpronate and need a little more stability.

What she said wasn't news to us - we'd mentioned Sloane's feet to the pediatrician several times and she never seemed concerned.  However, the fact that a pediatric physical therapist had noticed my daughter's feet from pictures on Instagram... that was a big deal to me.  Tracey and I emailed back and forth and she was so helpful.  She mentioned Sloane's flat feet and I remember thinking, "But she doesn't have flat feet, she has a great arch."  The next morning I saw her standing next to Michael and her ankles were rolled in so much that her entire foot was flat on the ground.  They looked exactly like the feet of the guy standing next to her.

Due to her ER visit, Sloane had a follow-up appointment at the pediatrician so I mentioned her feet to the doctor and asked if she could be evaluated (if you can't tell, I am the queen of asking for evaluations).  The doctor agreed and referred Sloane to a physical therapist in town.

A week went by and the physical therapist came to our house to evaluate Sloane.  She asked all sorts of questions before she even looked at Sloane's feet.  When did she start walking? Just before 11 months. How often did she trip? Quite often, but typically because she's not paying attention.  Was she able to run and jump?  Very fast and very far.  She lifted her eyebrows at my last response but kept writing.  Then it was Sloane's turn to strut her stuff.

She asked Sloane to walk down our long hallway and Sloane immediately put her arms over her head and walked on her tip toes (we'd been to ballet the day before).  I couldn't help but smile.  The PT explained to Sloane how she needed to walk and Sloane did as told.  After two steps I heard her say, "Oh... that's bad.  That's really bad."  She asked Sloane to do a number of things.  Sloane did everything with a huge grin on her face.  Extra attention and showing off skills - this was Sloane's dream come true.  She even took a bow a few times.  Such a ham.

After the test was done, the PT told me Sloane did not qualify for physical therapy.  "But... you said her feet were terrible."  She grimaced and said they were... but Sloane was able to complete all tasks with no problem.  Because of that, insurance would not cover therapy because overpronating didn't prevent her from doing anything.  It was such a backwards compliment.

The PT showed me a few stretching exercises I could do with Sloane and then told me about SureStep SMO (shoe inserts - read more HERE).  Tracey had already told me about the inserts so it didn't take much convincing before we agreed Sloane would absolutely benefit from them.  I had a laundry list of questions.  Would she have to wear them forever?  No.  Would she have to relearn to walk?  No, but she may be clumsy for a bit because they would completely realign her legs/feet.  Would they hinder her from doing everything she loves to do?  Not at all.  Would she be able to wear normal shoes or only giant white tennis shoes? (Let's be honest, I'd seen them on the website and was not thrilled.)  She could wear normal shoes - not all, obviously, but the plastic inserts are thin and flexible enough they don't cause many issues.

So that brings us to the present.  Next Tuesday someone is coming to our home to measure Sloane's feet and make inserts specifically for her.  My kids are barefoot 90% of the time.  If we are not in public, they are barefoot. This will no longer be the case as she needs the extra support from her shoes.  The hope is in a relatively short amount of time the inserts will teach her how to walk correctly, which will help with stability and alignment.  It will also take unnecessary pressure off of her knees and ankles.

With the exact same issues as Sloane, Michael managed to be an incredible soccer player and one of the fastest guys on his team.  She's already following in her dad's overpronated footsteps (harhar) so I have no doubt she will handle this like a pro.

If you have any questions about ECI (Jude's post) or SureStep SMO, please ask.  I'm in the beginning stages myself but would love to help you or point you in the direction of someone who can.

(Take a good look at her feet and ankle bones - YIKES)

Life Lately | Part I

A lot has been going on around our house and I wanted to wait until I had some answers before I shared anything.

Sounds ominous, yes?  Good news: It's not.

Today I'll start with Baby A, Jude the Dude.  When he's not provoked, Jude is as laidback as they come.  He happily plays with friends or by himself, loves to give hugs and kisses, and always, always wants to know where his twin sister is.  He is a free spirit, full of energy, and would rather jump off your table than sit in a chair.

I can't continue this tale without also mentioning his sister.  Sloane is charming, deliberate, and so very sneaky.  More than all of this, she is a people-pleaser.  If I tell the kids it's time to pick up their toys, she's the first to oblige.  If I ask a question, she answers.  If I need something, she's on it.  This is wonderful - I have my own personal assistant - except when it comes to Jude's communication.  When I ask Jude a question, she answers it; when I ask Jude to bring me a book, she grabs one.  At this age, it is such a delicate balance of asking her to hold back while telling him to move forward.  One of my daily mantras is "Do not break their spirit."  Do not force Jude to sit still if what he needs more than anything is to move.  Do not tell Sloane to quit helping when her daily desire is to do just that.  It's tricky and what it's led to is a sweet sister who communicates for her brother.

Jude has always been a bit delayed with speech.  If you've read my blog at all you already know this.  I took him to Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) at 18 months and he passed.  I was shocked.  Since then he's continued to learn new words, speak in phrases, and has a clear understanding of what we say to him.  But even though you're told never to compare, I couldn't help but notice his sister having full blown conversations with me while he sat back.  He is strong enough he can help himself to most anything and his needs are few.  I decided it was time to have him tested once more at ECI and we had his evaluation a few weeks ago.

It was almost three hours of testing in a tiny room.  They covered everything from communication to motor skills.  Jude was on his WORST behavior that day.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't embarrassed.  I watched him throw toys, hide under chairs, and completely shut down.  I realized for the first time that I have never made him continue an activity if he doesn't want to do it.  With two kids, you just try to get through the day in one piece and sometimes that means you fix things that would be helpful lessons if left broken.  I watched my happy-go-lucky son refuse to point to his feet because he was so frustrated.  It was hard to watch - I just wanted to grab him and run.

Once they scored the test, I learned he passed everything but receptive communication.  Example: "Jude, point to your feet."  The therapist told me Jude would've passed but each time he was frustrated and refused to cooperate, they had to give him a 0.  Jude knows his body parts but wouldn't point to anything.  0.  He knows that milk goes in a cup, but wouldn't point to the cup.  0.  The therapist was sympathetic and said she truly believed he could do these things but without seeing it, they couldn't assume.  And so she left it up to me.  Did I want Jude to have a speech therapist until he turned three?

It took me less than two seconds to say YES.  I looked at my frustrated son and realized we both need help with his communication.  Just as much as he needs to learn how to better communicate, I need to learn how to help him.  A speech therapist will come to our house once a week for an hour.  She will sit right next to him, teaching him new things, and I will be on his other side, taking as many mental notes as I can to make sure I can help him the other six days.

Today was his first appointment.  Lauren is his therapist and they really hit it off.  She made him laugh, which made her laugh (this child's laugh is second to none).  They worked together on a letter game and while he was reluctant at first, he listened.  And then he smiled.  And then he participated.

He will receive help over the next three months and then he'll be evaluated again to see if he needs to continue speech therapy once he turns three.

I don't think any parent wants to hear their child needs therapy.  At the same time, every parent wants the absolute best for their child.  I'm proud of him every day but today was exceptional.  Twins get so little one-on-one time and Lauren did such a good job of making today FUN. I got to see my son be the center of attention when he has allowed Sloane to carry that title for 2.5 years.

My prayer over the next three months is that Jude will not only gain words but also confidence.  I have so much confidence in him and now it's his turn to realize it for himself.


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