This has been a very exciting week and a half for Yirmiyahu!
One of the challenges of T21 is hypotonicity, which means that he has low muscle tone. For this reason, children with T21 have to work much harder and it takes them longer to do the things that I took for granted with my other kids. With Yirmiyahu, even our youngest (almost 4) is excited about his accomplishments! All of this is even more gratifying since Yirmiyahu became extremely hypotonic when he got so sick; he lost all muscle strength and control for a while, and it’s really wonderful that’s he’s back on track.
As Yirmiyahu approaches his ten month birthday, here are some things he’s doing.
Firstly, as of a couple of weeks ago, he independently holds his bottle and feeds himself. We worked on helping him keep his hands on the bottle for months, and it was really nice when he had the muscle strength to be able to do this. We hold out his bottle in front of him and let him take it himself and put it into his own mouth – this is really cute to watch.
Secondly, he began rolling from his back to his stomach. He’s been rolling from his stomach to his back since he was two weeks old, and from his back to his side for months. But until this week he needed a very slight assist to make the final turn from his side to his stomach.
He was moving around on the floor, but now it’s noticeable – he turns himself totally around in a circle (180 degrees), moves backwards, and inches forward.
Before he went to the hospital, he was able to hang in the air supporting all of his weight while holding onto our thumbs. This was a big deal – when I first read about this exercise I couldn’t imagine him ever being able to do it – but he did, until he was hospitalized. Then he was too weak. That is, until this week! He’s getting strong again! This is important for his grip and will later assist in his fine motor skills. (This was something we’re doing based on Glenn Doman’s work.)
And he now sits totally independently without support! (I asked dd to hold her hand behind him as a precaution while I took a picture so that he didn’t suddenly topple over.)
He wasn’t doing any of this (except the bottle) a week and a half ago when we took him to Shalva in Jerusalem, and I’m looking forward to them seeing his progress! (Since they understand the challenges of infants with T21 as well as what a normal timeframe for various accomplishments is, they’ll be much more excited about this than his regular therapist.)
It’s also gratifying since we’ve helped him develop physical strength and development of the core muscles (that are needed to sit or turn over) by giving him lots of time on his tummy – not what his therapist recommends, but his results are better! She’d like to see him practicing standing for at least an hour a day, but our goal isn’t for him to stand until he has the muscle strength to support himself well. This was our goal with sitting as well – we felt that when his muscles were strong enough, he’d sit, and so it was! (For you homeschoolers out there, you may be reminded of things I’ve written about teaching children to read and you’re right, it’s a similar philosophy in a different framework).
The next major goal is crawling, which he’s already showing the beginning signs of. This is something his regular therapist wants to forgo – she wants to work on standing and get him ready for walking – but it’s so critical to his development that there’s no way we’re skipping that. Lest you think that we’re tightly focused on his physical accomplishments and constantly doing therapy with him – we’re not. We’re enjoying every day with our delightful Yirmiyahu!