Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Maggie Update: Words, Words and Ballet

Over the last two days we have had the very best kind of tears shed as Maggie has started to cry when it was time for her therapists to leave because she was having so much fun that she didn't want therapy to be over.  The tears haven't developed into full blown tantrums and minutes later she's back to playing, but the idea that she's enjoying therapy so much right now that she's sad when it's over makes me feel much better about the direction we're headed in right now.

Her vocabulary is exploding.  She's spontaneously saying between 40 and 50 words just about every day now during her sessions, apart from the words she's prompted to say.  For a kid that would go a month without saying a single word a mere seven months ago, this feels huge.

Today's words included "rectangle" and plenty of counting.  Maggie loves to count now, usually in English, but sometimes in Spanish too.  And she really enjoys giving me instructions in
Spanish.  She'll come to the kitchen gate and shake it and shout "abre" with a smile, or will squirm when she's been picked up and is ready to get down while singing "Abajo!  Abajo!" over and over again.

She also loves puzzles.

Midway through therapy she put together a puzzle of a ballerina (with twelve pieces, all by herself!) and stopped and jumped up and ran into the living room to carefully look through several outfits that were in her little outfit box until she found a tutu with flowers that met with her approval.  She then brought it to me to help her get her feet through the leg holes, since she wasn't about to remove her shiny pink patent ballet flats to put it on and wore it over her leopard print stretch pants.

She even did a few ballet steps, putting her little arms in the air and her foot up to her knee when she heard "passe" (because Sadie insists that's what a passe is and Maggie looks to her big sister as her role model for all things ballet).

Her therapist and I talked about how she needs new objectives now, because while she struggled with these when they were first set when we were in the midst of various accidental exposures to gluten, she's flying through those same objectives now and they need more for her to work on during "school."

There are still difficult moments that we stumble through on most days, hours where the loudness of the colors and sounds in the world seem to well up to overwhelm her.  A couple of days ago I lay with her on the couch layering blanket after blanket over her as she attempted to bury herself under mounds of quilts, finally relaxing and then crying until the moment passed.  But the highs are higher too as she excitedly has begun to realize how well her words can communicate what she wants.

It's not quite a perfect process, our attempts at connecting words and meanings.  Earlier today I stood in the kitchen making dinner.  She appeared at the kitchen door, suddenly teary.  "Boat! Boat! I wanna.  I wanna!  Boat!"  I stopped and looked around the room.  Picking up a few of her favorite snacks and trying to hand them to her as she looked progressively more distressed.

"I'm not sure what you're saying?"  I finally said and she frowned and repeated "boat" several more times.

Then I turned and saw them. Three large yellow bananas sitting in the fruit basket, looking not unlike little boats with their unusually long shapes.  I picked up a banana and she relaxed instantly and waited quietly while I peeled the banana and handed it to her.  Then she went happily back to playing with her little banana "boat" in her hand.

More and more lately I find myself reminded of how far we've come in such a short span of time.

Now to begin a week that will include our very first occupational therapy evaluation.  We've finally made it to the top of the wait list (being classified as a "safety hazard" because of her climbing skills helped make that happen "faster" than it otherwise would have... with faster meaning a little over half a year on the list).

One of Mae's therapists has volunteered to meet us there, which should be a huge help, because sometimes answering all the questions about Mae's sensory problems can be overwhelming and it definitely helps to have more than one mind pointing out all the little clues to her sensory seeking behaviors.  I'm so excited to get her started on OT, especially since this therapist is supposed to be really good with sensory stuff!

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