This entry may not be of much interest to my family and friends, but if anyone from the DS community ever reads this they might be able to use something from it...
This morning Sweet Pea and I went to a playgroup that we attend monthly that is for kids with DS. It's at a local therapy center and so they have a swing, lots of mats for easy rolling, a ball bin, etc. They have a couple therapists that volunteer their time and it's always been very fun and informative. Today was no different.
We start the group with circle time and they sing a couple of songs. Then they broke into two groups (walkers and non-walkers) and we started in the room with the mats. We asked many questions of the PT and she showed me a few new tricks. She hasn't seen Sweet Pea in a couple of months and was very happy with the progress that she is making. Then we went into the other room with the big swing hanging from the ceiling and we were able to have Sweet Pea sit in the swing and then kneel in the swing. She loves swinging so it was a lot of fun. Swinging is so good for our kids as it is a whole sensory experience within itself. The PT that was in this room taught me how to hold her while we swing with her on regular swings. Let's see if I can explain it...
I would have sat on the swing and held her in my lap looking out so that she could see what was going on. The PT informed me that by doing this I would be allowing her to not use any muscles to hold herself up because she would just lean against me. Her recommendation was to have her sit facing me with either her legs around my waist or just sitting on one of my thighs with her legs hanging down. I should have my hands on her torso and lower them down as she gets better at balancing as we swing. Since there is a park nearby that has swings I am excited to try this out soon.
The other really cool thing that they did with Sweet Pea was put her on this 18"x18" skateboard type thing on casters. They rolled her all around while they held her waist and watched how she reacted when they would change direction and her balance would need to adjust. She did great! They then rolled her up a ramp and back down it and she loved it and was maintaining her balance really well. Once she gets more stable sitting on it they would have had her do it on all fours. It's something to think about recreating here at home. Here is a picture of what it basically looked like.
We like our current therapists, but I always like going to these playgroups because you get a different perspective and can learn a few more tricks to try. One other trick I learned today was how to practice kneeling with Sweet Pea. She currently sits on her feet a fair amount when we try kneeling, but she did push up a little today when we were doing it. The PT said that it was good to start that way because it was teaching her to bear weight on her femurs. We should sit with her in kneeling position using the couch with the cushion removed to allow her to hold on for support. She will then eventually be sitting upright with both her thighs and torso in a straight line. Once she can do that, then we should bring one foot up and have her down on one knee (as in a man proposing position). Alternate which leg you use so that they both get utilized. Eventually, she would then be ready to pull to stand from that position. We are learning how to break skill down into much smaller steps and it's amazing how quickly success can come once you do that. It takes persistence, but we always try to make the work we do with her be fun so she isn't really aware that she is working.
Disclaimer: I am not a PT or OT or any type of therapist...just a mom who is trying to share some of what she's learned to help others. Consult your own therapist before trying any of this.