Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ingenious Nonsense: Tugging at Blankets and Ablebodied Fetch

The pediatrician suggested I try to have Kid O be on her belly. I knew she hated that. Even so I thought it may not be a bad idea. It was essential she learned to move. I placed two baby blankets on the floor. On one end I placed several of her favorite toys. On the other end I placed her. And then I left the room. She was pissed. I knew she had to figure this out for herself. I went into the kitchen. She was tantruming loudly. I thought I'd give her a few minutes. She was carrying on something fierce. And then silence. I rushed back in and was both surprised and amused by what I saw.

With crabbed claws Kid O had pulled the second blanket, bringing the toys to her. No attempt at crawling. That stubborn cuss had thwarted me on that. She solved the problem the way she wanted to. And was content. And probably a little bit amused. To me it remains a remarkable achievement and a testament to the sheer determination she was born with.

When she was born, Kid O had fisted up hands. Her dominant left hand even turned outward, yet that was and remains her stronger side. That gives you an idea as to what tenacity she has. I have yet to meet anyone who is harder working or more focused. When she was two, a Feldenkrais instructor, with many years of experience, told me that Kid O had the best attention span of anyone she'd ever worked with, including many adults. Even when it looks as if she is not doing much, Kid O is always trying to figure out how to move, and, occasionally, how to speak. The last word I heard her say was something that sounded a lot like "book" and that was several years ago. She obviously must think about what she wants to say. Back in January 2001 when Kid Q was born, a proud older sister would tell anyone who would listen, "Momma, baby, momma, baby, momma, baby." The people at school were entirely surprised. We were not surprised. What is perplexing to us is why she seems to be able to express herself and then suddenly not. The acceptable explanation is that she is focused more on movement over speech. The nervous system can only do so much. Perhaps.

Kid O likes to play a game we call ablebodied fetch. On the surface it looks much like what toddlers do. They drop objects over and over again to see what happens. Problem is to convince educators that there is more to Kid O's game than that. She is practicing her fine motor skills in a very focused way. If one pays attention, the observer would see the look of concentration on Kid O's face as she does things like rummages through a crayon box, for instance. This is all practice for her, even if it seems silly to the casual observer. This is a serious past time for her. Little by little, Kid O gains in dexterity. In just the last few months, she has gain use of her right arm and hand that shows a reduction of spasticity and an increase in intentionality.

When we go to visit my mother, one of the things we do is roll Kid O up to her piano and see what happens. This one time I rolled her up with her right side closer. Kid O was stymied at first, but, after a little bit, her right hand slowly rose up and hit the keyboard. She solved the problem. In all likelihood she had been working on that problem for many, many, months, trying to get her brain to send the proper signals to her right hand. To us, looking for signs of progress can be like watching paint dry. We don't see the day to day progress. We need confirmation from occasional visitors that something is going on. And it is.

Kid O is always thinking about how to get her limbs to move past the spasticity that seems to always impede her progress. Anyone who looks into those smoldering amber eyes would know that there's all kinds of mischief and a wicked sense of humor behind them. When I have moments when I feel like giving up, I see how hard she is working and why I must continue to seek out those who would help her reach her full potential.

No comments:

Post a Comment