This post might mostly be of interest to others in the T21 mom club, but I am planning to come back with birthday pictures after her party tonight. And tomorrow, her actual birthday, we hope to have a little surprise for you.
As always, if my update leaves you with questions, please, ask away!
Q: Are you still giving Verity supplements?
I squeeze a softgel of cod liver oil and one of vitamin D directly into her mouth daily.
Coconut oil has been shown to possibly help organize the brain in people with Alzheimer’s, in addition to many other health benefits. (People with Down syndrome are at greater risk for early-onset Alzheimer’s.) Verity thinks her daily dose of extra-virgin organic coconut oil is a great treat!
The ginkgo is Verity’s brain helper. She is more alert on her “ginkgo days,” it is easier to capture and hold her attention, and she remembers things better. If I skip it, we can tell a dramatic difference. Because of this, I rarely skip a day.
And the rest are basically immune boosters, including the mama’s milk. Her immune system has impressed us this past winter, with just that one brief illness which responded very quickly to medication. Is it the supplements? Who knows! We plan to keep them up.
In addition, I take many supplements myself. Some of them I take purposefully so that they will get to her through my milk, such as the choline, another possible brain helper.
Speaking of mama’s milk…
Question: I’m confused. Is Verity nursing?
Answer: Verity’s nursing has been on-again, off-again due to several factors. Right now her second tooth has just finished cutting its way through next to her first one, and I haven’t attempted nursing since my last attempt came to a bloody end. That’s not to say I won’t try, try again.
Because of her aspiration issues, she does tend to cough and splutter if we give her thin liquids, so we are not expecting her to nurse for more than the occasional snuggle-ness of it.
I plan to keep up pumping as long as my body continues to cooperate. We have been reluctant to push solids in place of my milk, so at this point, we still give her the bottle before the solid food.
Question: What solid foods has she tried?
Answer: We are adding solids slowly, and choosing among foods loaded with nutrients, because she doesn’t have a large appetite. She loves cooked pears, applesauce with blueberries, and sweet potato, as well as raw strawberries, raspberries, avocado, banana, cantaloupe and watermelon. She loves her sweet potato and strawberry Happy Baby puffs, too!
After doing a lot of reading on the subject, we have also decided to keep her diet dairy- and gluten-free as a preventative measure. (Yes, those puffs are gluten-free!) We plan to keep added refined sugars out of her diet as well.
Question: How much therapy does Verity get?
Answer: Miss Marcia, her occupational therapist, comes every other Wednesday for one hour. Miss Karen, her physical therapist, comes every other Thursday for one hour. We have them both come the same week so that we can have “therapy week,” and “no therapy week.”
How does such a small amount of therapy help her?
Well, we think of therapy in the same way we think of piano lessons. We have always scheduled piano lessons every other week rather than every week. The teacher runs the student through his paces, observes, corrects, instructs, demonstrates, and gives assignments for the next two weeks.
If a child receives lessons, but doesn’t practice correctly between those lessons, they will not be of much benefit.
So it’s our responsibility to remember our instructor’s teaching and assignments and fit the practicing into our everyday life. Which we are greatly motivated to do when we see how much she is learning!
Question: So what new things has Verity been learning?
Answer: She’s learning what “No,” means!
For instance, here she is brushing her teeth. See that hand soap pump sitting temptingly near her left hand?
Yes, Mama really said you may not have it! The following face was repeated over and over until…
…she finally decided Mama really meant “No,” and didn’t try it any more. And then Mama gave her big squeezy hugs and praised her most enthusiastically!
(Now don’t you feel sorry for her and call her poor little baby! I have to think further ahead than the next poochy lip!)
A couple of months ago, we began using some Dorling Kindersley Touch and Feel flash cards with her. Our current method is to make sure we have her full attention, then flash our way through several of them while naming the item several times and having her touch them. It’s all input at this point. We’re not asking her for output yet.
She’s learning “So big,” and tries to say it.
She also says, or tries to say, “Dada,” “Mama,” “All done [while signing],” “Peekaboo [while playing the game],” “bottle,” and several other common words.
She has started chewing her food.
She’s learning “right hand,” and “left hand,” and yes, she is right-hand-dominant like all her brothers and sisters.
She understands what, “Verity, put your tongue in your mouth!” means, and is generally quick to comply. If she doesn’t respond to a verbal reminder, we gently give her fishy lips while nudging upward under her chin, and she will pull it right in. Generally, we see her tongue most when she is sleepy, so when our reminders avail nothing, it’s naptime.
“Good girl to put your tongue in your mouth!”
There is nothing dull about this child. It is just incumbent on us to learn how to teach her best.
She is still working hard on her transitions! Belly to sitting, sitting to belly, sitting to kneeling, kneeling to sitting, hands-and-knees to sitting, sitting to hands-and-knees, first on the right, then on the left, upright kneeling to sit-kneeling, sit-kneeling to upright kneeling, sitting to standing, standing to sitting, over and over and over again. We help her body move before she has the ability to do it herself, so that when the time comes for her to make these moves on her own, her body already is comfortable and familiar with the proper ways to accomplish them.
We try to make her work hard at everything she has to do.
For instance, we never pick her up off her belly. We first guide her into a sitting position, then get her attention, hold out our arms to her, and say and sign, “Come, Verity!” When she responds by raising her arms, then we praise her and pick her up.
Here she is going from sitting to belly…rotating, weight-shifting, and putting one arm down to prop herself…
…curling that leg underneath herself…bringing her other arm down…and then she either flops onto her belly, or changes her mind and sits back up.
She flops instead of lowering herself gracefully because her upper body strength still needs some work! We can tell this by how hard it is for her to lift her arms up above her head, so we incorporate this move into several different games. For instance, we have her reach up for toys and hold onto them so that she has to “Pull, pull, pull!”
Here she is practicing sitting to belly going to the left. Doesn’t she have the dearest little dimpled fingers? *smooch, smooch*
Hands-and-knees is her least favorite position, but she will stay there, and happily, as long as we are singing the “Verity’s Rocking” song, while rocking her front to back and side to side (weight-shifting).
She will stay in a sit-kneeling position for a long time to play, and has to be encouraged to move from that to an upright kneeling position.
We’re so proud of our little dumpling!
Oops! I see a “space-out” face! Time to kiss her chubby cheeks and get her mind moving again!
“Verity, where is the LIGHT? Look at the LIGHT, Verity, LIGHT! YES! That’s the LIGHT! Big girl!!!”
Isn’t she just so very smart?
Twinkle, twinkle, little Verity-star…
How we LOVE you just the way you are…