Handwriting

Handwriting. Yup, handwriting was one of the two key reasons that led us to occupational therapy (OT). Yes, believe it or not, it was handwriting (or the lack of) that convinced me.

We were recommended to send Hubby-jr for an OT assessment way back when we first looked into his speech/language development delay in 2007 (he was four then). But when we received the news he had mild/moderate hearing loss in his right ear – which helped explain most of his developmental delays – we didn’t pursue the OT assessment. We thought we had it figured out, more or less.

Perhaps my judgment was clouded at that point in time by the initial shock of his hearing loss and formal confirmation of his developmental delays (social and language). Looking back I think I was simply overwhelmed and I found all of it hard to digest. So much so I couldn’t bear the thought of one more assessment. Why go through it if it was not absolutely necessary?

Well that was then, I was wrong and in hindsight I regret not going through with the OT assessment.

So what was different this time round that made me take that step? Desperation? In part I guess. But honestly – his serious difficulty with handwriting tipped the scales. It gave me a tangible reason to seek OT. To me it was the only visible symptom.

Okay, some of you may be wondering how bad could his handwriting have been. Hmmm…let me count the ways. His letters were poorly aligned, for example his “r” was as tall as “h” and “t” was as short as “a”. There were no spaces where there should be (in between words) and random gaps between letters where there shouldn’t be. This despite me having taught and drilled him in K2. It was also either too dark (too much pressure on the pencil) or too light, there was no middle ground.

I also received feedback from his class teacher (and his previous kindergarten teacher) that he was very slow in his written work. At the beginning of the year (P1) he was always the last in copying from the board and he almost never could complete any written work in time. If the teacher gave him time to complete his work, she had to ask the rest of his classmates to do some colouring while waiting.

At home, I could see for myself how labourious it was for him. It took him tremendous amount of time and effort just to write neatly. A five sentence handwriting assignment could take him 30-45 minutes just to complete!

I began to seriously wonder why it was that difficult for him to do something that shouldn’t be all that difficult. I also knew I had to do something. How on earth could he survive school if he continued writing at this rate?

Hence when I was recommended to send him for an OT check (the second time), I was very open and we just went for it. Like I said, I was desperate. I was desperate for any explanation, more importantly for any solution.

Having said that, the results of the OT wasn’t what I expected. I kept thinking it had to be his fine motor skills. Well turns out, Hubby-jr’s difficulty with handwriting had little to do with his fine motor skills. It had more to do with poor core muscle tone which probably is a result of his vestibular and proprioceptive sensory issues.

Poor core muscle tone?! I must have gaped when the occupational therapist told me that. Hubby-jr is an active boy who has amazing stamina. He climbs, runs and slides down “fireman poles” at the playground which he visits almost every evening since he was almost 2?! As a friend of mine aptly exclaimed when I told her the diagnosis, “that is SO BIZARRE!” She has often seen him at play.

Well, I guess that’s why we pay the experts. They can pick up stuff that seemingly look normal to us. For more information on the basic skills needed for handwriting check out this link.

The occupational therapist was right (in case you were skeptical). Since we started OT in March, Hubby-jr’s handwriting has improved signficantly. His pencil control is much better, he can write neatly (when he wants to) and quickly now. In school, he can now complete his work in time! Amazing.

But he is not done with OT. He still needs it. Handwriting was only the tip of the iceberg.

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Tim Burtonesque?

Thanks for dropping me encouraging notes in my previous post. Life has pretty much swung into a routine (albeit a new and more hectic routine) these days. And yes, I will elaborate more sometime down the road.

But for today I thought I’d post something on a much lighter note.

My other child, Little Missy  (who by the way turned 4 quite recently) loves to draw (and colour and even learning to write!) Yup, the total opposite of her older brother. Drawing people is one of her most recent acquired skills. When I saw her first “person” it spooked me out. Seriously.

See what I mean?! What’s with the eyes and mouth? I swear neither hubby or I have exposed her (or her brother) to any of the Tim Burton DVDs or books in our house. Err… yeah, hubby and I are fans… The picture by the way is supposed to be her and her Kor-Kor (older brother).

In an attempt to lessen the spookiness without dampening her spirit, I suggested drawing eyeballs within the eye and coloring only the eyeballs. I couldn’t make her do away with the teeth. It has to be drawn she insisted. Here’s the result.

What’s with the eyelashes at the bottom of the eyes? At this point I gave up and decided to just let her “talent” evolve naturally. No more intervening from me. I love Tim Burton stuff anyway. It’s just a little baffling since she loves Strawberry Shortcake and Hello Kitty type of things… yes,  see! I’ve been surrounding her with sweet, cheery stuff. Nothing dark. I swear.

Then a few days ago I discovered this.

The teeth is still a little creepy but it is a whole lot less spooky don’t you think? 🙂

I just had to post my little girl’s first drawings. They sure did spook me but they also made me smile (cos I found them funny), made me a little teary on the inside (she’s growing) and made me beam a whole lot (I’m so proud)!

Writing again, at last

Has it only been more than 2 months since I last wrote? Somehow it seems like decades ago to me. Yes in part it is because I enjoy writing and have missed doing so but mainly because SO much has happened during that time. 

In early February 2010, I brought Hubby-jr to a speech therapist for an assessment. Why? Well, even though I was hoping – hoping so badly I almost convinced myself Hubby-jr was doing alright – my gut told me he wasn’t. I knew in my gut that he wasn’t socialising or expressing himself as well as his peers and in a sea of primary school students it became more obvious. So I brought him for a speech assessment just in case (I was still hoping my gut was wrong). 

As it turned out, he not only needed to start speech therapy again (weekly for at least a year) I was also advised to send him for an occupational therapy check. Which we (hubby and I) did and bingo, he needed weekly occupational therapy as well. Apparently my son has sensory issues as well, perhaps due to his hearing problem (hard of hearing in his right ear). He has… here goes… vestibular and proprioceptive sensory issues. If you’re going WHAT?! Yup, sensory integration was a whole new world to me too. I’ll try to elaborate more in my next post. Promise. But for now, you’re stuck with just the jargons as I’m writing an as brief as possible update. 

At the same time I also came across some blogs and articles about children with mild to moderate hearing loss. It made me question if Hubby-jr seriously needed a hearing aid. So I emailed his audiologist and asked for a review of his records and asked for a recommendation. Guess what? They called me and said… yes, with his hearing profile his right ear should be fitted with a hearing aid! So my son has been wearing a hearing aid since 30 March 2010. Thankfully he adjusted to it very well right from get go and he told me it helps him hear better in school. 

So there, that is all (well not ALL but the more significant events) that’s happened over here in my home since I last posted. 

I battled through a wide spectrum of emotions as each news came. It has not been easy or painless. I grappled with God and tears accompanied quite a number of my prayers. But through it all I could see His faithfulness and feel His love. I may elaborate in my future posts. 

These days, I am hopeful (in the Lord) and… plain exhausted at the end of most days. Besides bringing him for the therapy sessions, I have to do follow up exercises (speech AND occupational) at home with him as much as I can. On top of that I’ve to help him with school work (homework, spelling). Not forgetting I DO have another child who still needs a fair amount of my attention. Yes, there’s also laundry, dinners to prepare… 

But by the grace of God I am coping, some days rather well and some days, not. All in all a whole lot better than I expected. I am learning to let go and let God. He is the source of my strength. 

Isa 40:28-31

28 Do you not know?
       Have you not heard?
       The LORD is the everlasting God,
       the Creator of the ends of the earth.
       He will not grow tired or weary,
       and his understanding no one can fathom.

 29 He gives strength to the weary
       and increases the power of the weak.

 30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
       and young men stumble and fall;

 31 but those who hope in the LORD
       will renew their strength.
       They will soar on wings like eagles;
       they will run and not grow weary,
       they will walk and not be faint.

If The Stool Fits

Stool as in the furniture piece and not human waste. Now that that is clarified…

Last Friday Little Missy, who by the way is turning 4 this year, was in one of her must-be-with-mommy moods in the morning. As always, such moods have to coincide with one of my more-busy-than-usual period. I had already spent about 1 hour of one-to-one time with her but it was not enough. I could not extend my time with her as the laundry had to be hung or… let’s just say we’d some serious clothing crisis.

But I really didn’t want to have to deal with a tantrum situation and so I was searching hard for a solution in my head.

Just as I was thinking my little one announced that she wanted to draw and a little light bulb turned on in my head. Tink! I remembered this brilliant idea I read in one of my favourite sites – ohdeedoh. I took my Ikea Bekvam step stool, placed it near me and then I tried to “fit” my petite daughter in. Fit she did. And ta da! Just like that the stool became a mini table where Little Missy busied herself doodling while I got to hang my laundry to dry.

Here’s a picture.

Yes I still had to entertain her here and there. “Mommy can you draw a frog please?”, “Mommy can you please draw a fish?”, etc. But that was alright. Nothing stressful. I got to finish hanging up my laundry to dry. She got to draw and we got to spend more time together. And best of all I avoided having to deal with a tantrum or a “fight”. 🙂

Life will never be the same again.

I can’t remember the last time I was so overjoyed when the weekend arrives. Last Friday night at the dinner table I looked at hubby and just burst out with both my hands up in the air, “there’s no school tomorrow! Hurray!!!” And hubby echoed my sentiments with equal gusto (both hands in the air), “Yay!!!”

You have no idea how the last two weeks has been for us.

No, Hubby-jr did not have any problems adjusting to primary(junior) school which started 2 weeks ago on 4 January 2010, much to our relief. He’s taking it amazingly well and we’re just brimming with pride. He likes his school (thank God) and is quite thrilled to be in primary school! Incredible huh? Given his past.

Hubby and I on the other hand are suffering. Life as we had known has completely been altered. Our lives will never be the same again… ladies and gentlemen, dear friends and loved ones… hubby and I now have to wake up every school day at some ungodly hour, before the sun even comes up, 6.45am to be exact.

I know, I know, some of you are probably thinking, “what?! 6.45am is not that early! We have to be awake by…. blah, blah, blah”

Well for hubby and I, 6.45am is ungodly enough an hour. We are not, absolutely NOT morning persons. The last 2 weeks have been sheer torture. Torture!!!

P/S: I started out wanting to write a longer update but my poor brain has yet to fully adjust to the seismic shift of waking up early. My brain has been on perpetual screen saver mode since but… the last 2 days have been a teensy weensy bit better. Alas, a glimmer of hope. I may just be able to get used to this waking up early thingy. Sigh. That’s life being mommyfied!

Blessed Christmas!

I should learn a lesson and just declare December a post-free month. A time of rest, reflection and fellowship with loved ones.

Anyhoo, it’s just TWO more days to Christmas and I could not, NOT wish you guys a wonderful, wonderful Christmas. Hmm…. I guess that just thrashed the December-post-free thingy… well, what-e-ver!

Here’s a video I like which celebrates the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Saviour on earth, Jesus.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”– Luke 2:11-14

I wish you Jesus. Blessed Christmas everyone!

The Marshmallow Test

What does one do when one is stuck at home? Well this one here, i.e. moi, surfs the internet a little more than usual. When the kids are watching DVDs, of which they are doing more than usual as well. Sigh.

Anyway, found this rather amusing youtube video. Do take a look. Great comic relief.

P/S: Latest update, Hubby-jr has recovered from HFMD but Little Missy got infected a few days ago and so the house arrest has yet to be lifted. Two kids trapped at home. Huge sigh.

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