Wednesday, September 17, 2008

All about Ryan and how we finally discovered he had been dealing with Sensory issues since his babyhood

When Stephen was getting close to being 2, we decided it would be nice for Stephen to have a sibling. I got pregnant right away and was overjoyed and shocked at the same time. I worried about pre-term labor again, but even with all the early contractions I never went into actual pre-term labor. Ryan was born in the spring of 2002 (just 2 weeks before he was due). Right from the start he was very alert. He looked a lot different than Stephen. He was shorter, but had more fat (of course Stephen was a premie), but even more than that his skin coloring was much lighter, his hair (peach fuzz really) was more of a strawberry blond, and his eyes were light. He was a very beautiful baby and we fell instantly in love with him. He was also a rather fussy baby who did not sleep much even the first few days after birth. Ryan wanted to be held constantly and seemed to need extra touching, patting, and constant bouncing/movement to calm him. (Although the vibrating bassinet and the swing did not usually work to calm him). I realize now in hindsight that even from the beginning he was extra sensitive to noise and light and needed so much physical contact, and needed more stimulation than other babies – he had sensory issues but backk then we didn't have any ideas as to what made him a hard baby to soothe and why the “Colic” didn’t get better at 4, 5, 6, 9 months (etc. . .). He was always on the move and could never sit still. In many ways I enjoyed having a baby that was super cuddly and super attached to mommy (would cry when I was not holding him most of the time). Stephen had been a more laid back baby and didn’t need or even want to be held all the time. Although it was exhausting to have such a needy baby, it also made me feel so needed and loved. Of course there were days when the crying jags could last several hours at midnight even as he was getting to be a year old and we would hope maybe this was just a “growth spurt” or just getting a new tooth or had gas. We were always trying to figure out why he spent so much time being fussy. When he was happy he was such a sweet and cute little baby. He’s always been a pretty rambunctious kid who didn’t seem to fear anything. He walked early – just as he was getting to be 10 months he started walking. He was short for his age, so it looked so incredible to see this little baby walking around! He was also extremely verbal. He just loved to talk to everyone and when we were out at stores or malls he was constantly walking up to strangers just to chat about any old thing. He looked at everyone as his friend and would try to make friends with everyone (and a lot of times he did). Ryan has this sweet, fun loving, wanting to be super friendly side of him since he became a toddler. Everyone would tell me how cute and precious he was and how they enjoyed talking to him. He was usually pretty good when we were out, (the new environments – he seemed to get bored with the house and toys and always needed a new person or environment to keep him stimulated or he would become super crabby). At home he would be extremely restless, always seeming to need more attention and not be able to do anything for more than a few seconds – could never sit and watch a ½ hour TV program, never finish a game we played. He also would not want to do things for himself such as eating, drinking, dressing himself, going down the stairs. And, I guess I furthered that along as he was my baby and I didn’t really like thinking about how fast he was growing up, so I generally did a lot of things for him that I should have let him do for himself. I never saw this as a sign that he lacked motor skills (grabbing a fork, zipping a coat, cutting with scissors). He loves to be silly and try new things, meet new people, but things like counting to ten and learning numbers did not come easily to him as it had to Stephen when Stephen was 2 and 3. I started wondering if there was something wrong with him or something I should be doing to help him learn his letters and numbers and help him be more focused. He could be with a group of kids at story time or Little pros ( a mom n tot program at the park district) and all the kids would sit on the mat for circle time. He would never sit on the matt till everyone went off into doing a motor skills activity or a craft. Watching him interact and play with other kids made me see that he is not quite the norm, but everyone told me he was a sweet little boy (and of course he sure was!) and he was fine but I wondered if they were right. At his 3 year check up I brought up my concerns to the doctor. She pointed to a piece of paper on the wall and pointed to the yellow section and Dr asked him what it was and he said a number. We also talked about how he couldn’t sit still for any length of time, and couldn’t focus, had a hard time with changes in routines, hard time following a 2 step direction. Our pediatrician told me I should consider having him evaluated as he would be entering pre-school in the fall and the school will do evaluations if the parent and doctor request it. It’s not as if he had any major issues, but just little things that seemed very quirky so I decided why not have him tested. It will give me peace of mind if they tell me he is fine. I went into this meeting waiting for their reassurance that my son was just fine. I expected him to say he was just high energy and everything was normal, but that is not what they told me. They told me he shows fine motor skills delay and has some mild developmental delays and the school would provide OT for him for his motor skills once pre-school began. They did not seem very concerned about his developmental delay. I hoped he would catch up once he saw all the other kids counting and naming alphabet letters. He did very well in pre-school. He had many friends and made slow but steady progress in all areas but not enough to drop his IEP. Potty training became a big issue, but finally just before turning 5 we had him potty trained. We were so happy when he was potty trained. It had become such a big hurdle for us. While he struggled with writing, drawing and counting, we saw his creative and imaginative side emerge. He started to really love trains (especially Thomas) and would make train layouts that were pretty impressive. He also started to build things with Leggos. We were thrilled to see this because not only was he staying in an activity for more than 5- 10 minutes, he was really planning and thinking and the building required using fine motor skills. He has made such wonderful progress with his fine motor skills – he can cut with scissors very well and drawing and coloring pretty good too. I worried about kindergarten and how he would do in a larger class (27 instead of 14) with one teacher (and maybe one aid versus pre-school with 2 aids). He came home and each day I would ask how school was and he would always tell me he hated it. He always loved preschool and wanted to go even on Fridays when he didn’t have school. But after a month or so he got more used to the new school and wasn’t “hating” it anymore. He made lots of friends and the teachers and aids enjoyed having him in class. Close to the end of the first semester, he started acting out more at home and at school, but overall he was still a good student – very bright and very eager. He is now 6 and going from 5-6 has been quite a year. Pre-school to kindergarten, learning to ride a bike, losing his first tooth and he has finally overcome his fear of putting his face in the water. As I mentioned, Ryan had sensory issues that I never knew about or understood until Trevor went through them. I see now why he struggled with certain things and needed more attention at times. He would over-react to certain noises. But now he is facing those things – he covers his ears when he is in a place that he finds too noisy. He is learning to swim this summer and putting his face in the water. He’s also trying gymnastics but tells me its boring. He sleeps really well now (how did that ever happen!) and doesn’t stir at every little noise. He is doing well at school despite his having focusing and attending issues. Its amazing to look back and see all the sensory issues he had and how he has outgrown a lot of them. He is still extremely afraid of bees and spiders (so am I) and going through a germ phase (can’t touch or eat things if he thinks someone else has touched it)

In his short life he is already becoming a great little boy and has overcome a lot of his sensory issues. Ryan at six is a boy who is stubborn, very energetic and lively, extremely personable and friendly, always thinking and asking questions and ready for adventures. He likes trains and cars and building things, playing with playdough and sand, he also loves collecting pokemon cards, riding his bike and playing outside– pretty much your typical 6 year old. We have just begun the new school year. He is now in first grade and I am hoping this school year goes well!

Books I have read

  • Friday Night knitting Club
  • The tale of Edgar Sawtelle
  • Island of Lost Girls
  • The Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio
  • Nineteen Minutes
  • Kite Runner
  • Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons