The three of us trudged out in the snow and across town today for Stay N Play. We were the first ones there (a new goal of mine to NOT be late to things) so we got to chat and such with the students and the supervisor before things got under way. They really are very willing to do whatever we would need or like for Braska to be a part of things, and I appreciate that.
The topic today was communication, like how does your child communicate with you. (Here's Braska's version of the day, complete with video and pictures.We started with our Hello Song, then they explained that there would be toys around the room to play with, most of which the child would need help with. There were containers that needed opened and such things, so they were looking for what ways the kids used to communicate that they wanted a toy, that they needed help with it, or that they did not want it any longer. Mary-Kelsey, our student contact, led the group today, and she obviously knows ASL pretty well. She gave the group a few signs to use like open, help, mommy, daddy, and more, to have the parents use while playing with the kids.
When they turned us loose, Mary-Kelsey had set a little clear tub with a orange tube-shaped thing in it near us. It was totally the perfect thing for Braska, as you probably know if you're familiar with her at all, because she is all about tubes, ropes, cords, strings, anything that shape. I didn't figure she'd even understand the idea that it was visible through the container but she couldn't get it, so I took the top off, and she reached in for it. We've been working on container play with Miss Judy, our developmental therapist, so Braska has become faster with reaching into things to get a toy. The tube thing was a strange texture, like a gummy worm almost, and very stretchy. She liked it, initally just checking it out thoroughly with her eyes, and then grabbing it to pull. She took it with both hands, pulling it by both ends while I held the middle. We called it the Baby Bowflex, good resistance training for her little arms. She even went after it mouth-first at one point, which is not something she usually does. She took little breaks, but stayed with it for quite a while. There are some pics and videos on her site, of course, if you would like a visual example.
She also did plenty of her favorite thing the last few days...squats. She's decided that she needs to be moving all the time, and this is SO NOT been her pattern up til recently. And it's taking some getting used to for me, that's for sure. She will reach around when she's sitting in my lap, grabbing for something to hold onto, but more so that I will pick her up. Then she plants her feet on my legs and straightens up to a stand. I have to steady her right at the hip joints on both side, but otherwise, she's good to go. She holds that for about 10 seconds or so then drops to a squat, but not all the way to sitting. She waits a second or two then goes back up. It's amazing to see her working with all this strength out of nowhere, it seems. She'll do this about 6 or 7 times, then she'll plop down for a break of about a minute or two, and she's reaching around and ready to go again. She spent most of the rest of the playtime doing this, not interested in the toys so much.
When it came time for snack, they told us that they had the snacks in containers that would need opening, so they wanted to see how the children showed that they wanted the food and help getting it. M and I just laughed, thinking how long we would be waiting if we waited for her to show that she actually desired food. But we took her to the little table, gave her some of the colored goldfish, and figured that was it.
Then came our breakthrough of the day.... I feel like a need a drum roll here. I told M to put one of the goldfish on her lip or tongue so she could get a taste, just because this is what we try to do when food is in front of her. Showing her that it has flavor different than a toy, thinking that it might peak her interest at some point. Well, today was that day. She smacked her lips a bit from the salty fish, and then out come the tongue as she leaned forward toward her dad's hand that was holding it. He wasn't paying attention at first, so I poked him and said, "She wants it!" He held it up there and she licked. Again, and again, and again. She would take a little break here and there and push his hand away, but then she'd always come back to it. When she'd lick all the salty goodness off, he'd get a new one. And there she would go again. It was crazy. The students were video taping, as they do each class, so they were getting it. We were cheering, but not too loudly to startle her or distract her too much, and the other kids were totally uninterested, which was totally fine. One of the fish got kind of soggy with the licking, and she was opening her mouth just a tad with her tongue out, so M stuck it in to see what she would do. She didn't spit it out immediately via big messy raspberries that she usually does. She kind of held it in and just looked at us. I was trying to get her to take a little water from the sippy, but that wasn't going to happen, so I took the lid off and kind of poured it in her mouth to moisten things up. She managed it well, only a little came out later, with a slight little gag reaction, but not bad at all. She ended up getting two by the time it was over.
Needless to say, we were pretty excited, as were the students and supervisor. It was fun to watch her do something new. But we are not calling to have the g-tube scheduled to be removed just yet. She's famous for doing something amazing once and not repeating that show. There was the bottle in the hospital last April (took the whole darn thing several times, only to refuse it once we got home, never to take one again), then there was feeding herself with a spoon of baby food, also never to be seen again. So we celebrate our little breakthrough, but we're not unrealistic that this is a new trend. If she continues to explore foods more, we'll be very happy, but if not, it's ok. She'll get there one day.
All in all, a good playgroup day. I didn't do nearly as much watching and interacting with the other kids today since Braska was busy with things the whole time, but everyone was nice and greeted everyone else. It seems to be a really nice group of people. I feel better about the whole thing, and I think it will be good for Braska, most importantly.