Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My baby is getting so clever!

I often update on Facebook with little bits and pieces of what Joshua is doing, but it has occurred to me that I really should try and put things here too, as this is really a much better "record keeping" medium.  Often I tend to only put the major things on here, but the truth is, great things are happening every day here!

I often wish that I had a camera constantly set up to film the lounge room.  Joshua is doing all kinds of things and a lot of the time I have NO idea how.  I look at him and he is in one place and then I turn my back and the next time I look he is somewhere else.  He doesn't go a long way, but his position changes are puzzling sometimes because he has not mastered a "crawl" of any kind, be it a traditional crawl or an army crawl and it is not always clear to me how he managed to get where he is with the skills he has got.  This is my number one priority right now though, I am trying to work hard on crawling with him.  Over the weekend, I bought him a skateboard.  Rod had to make a few modifications to it, namely shortening the board and moving the wheels to allow his hands and knees to be able to touch the floor while his body is supported on the board.  The idea behind this is to encourage him to start making that "walking" motion with his hands.  He is getting pretty strong holding himself on all fours now, but he doesn't move those hands forwards.  Another Mother told me that when they are working so hard on keeping their trunk up, it can be difficult for them to think about trying to move their hands as well.  So by providing that trunk support with the skateboard, it frees him up to try and work out what to do with his hands.  I've only done two short sessions with him so far and I do think it is a positive thing and with a little more practice, he might start to work it out...

Joshua on his skateboard

Pretty funny right?

I am doing a lot of trying to show him how to move his hands forwards, both while he is on the skateboard and when he is on the ground.  An exciting development today was that he started to push himself backwards a little in an army crawl sort of fashion.  Sometimes, you have to go backwards to come forwards ;)  He wants to go forwards so badly though, and today I saw a slight improvment over what I was typically seeing from him.  Usually, every time he wanted to go forwards it would result him in rolling over.  He basically attempts to move by throwing his body weight around.  Today it started to look a little bit more sophisticated, although still very awkward.   He looked a bit like a slithering snake in that he'd throw his body to one side which gave him a little bit of forward movement, and then he'd throw himself to the other side, again getting a little bit of forward motion.  He didn't get very far, and it is a very ineffective way of trying to move, and yet, it is better than what I've seen in the past.  We are really making progress here.  It is slow..  it takes a long time, but it is happening.
In general, he appears to be starting to move his body with more ease, his weight bearing on arms is continuing to improve all the time and he has done a few things over the past couple of days that have made me think it might be possible for him to get himself from lying to sitting.  This is something else we have been working on, but I didn't think it was going to happen that way...  it was so awkward that I thought he would need to crawl first and get into sitting from all fours rather than by pushing up from side lying.  You just never know though, this boy is full of surprises.

Another exciting little fact is that Joshua has now worked out how to use a sippy cup.  He has been using a straw cup since 8 months old and this was a lot easier for him as he didn't need to actually tilt the cup backwards in order to get liquid....  he now understands it though!  I've just started offering milk in a straw or sippy cup.  Joshua is still breastfed, but he is really a pain in the bum about it, so since he was 9 months old, I made the decision to give him bottles during the day and then continue breast feeding first thing in the morning and last thing at night  (oh....  and during the night too if I should happen to get a late night booby call....   He has slept through the night fairly consistently since 6.5 months old, but we do have patches where he will randomly go a week of waking up for a feed and then just as randomly he will go back to sleeping through, and of course, if he is sick that can change things too).  Anyway, A lot of people say you should try and get rid of bottles by 12 months of age and personally, I didn't care about this recommendation at all.  Sometimes I think that it is really a miracle that he can breastfeed or bottle feed at all, as a lot of children with HIE end up having to be tube fed, either after trying oral feeding for a while, or they come home from the hospital with a tube because they were never able to feed orally.  For me, knowing that gives me a new kind of appreciation of things that many people take for granted.  Breast vs Bottle is a common debate among parenting circles, with some people throwing flames at those who bottle feed, but seriously, while these people are behaving like that, some people would give anything to have even been able to have that choice!  So, in that sense, I am just so grateful that my son can take a breast OR a bottle, and trying to take them away really isn't upmost on my priority list.  It's like "my poor brain damaged baby who might not ever have been able to drink from a bottle can keep having it for as long as he wants!"  Having said that, I decided to try giving him milk in the straw cup or sippy cup just out of curiosity, and he actually does quite well, so I don't think I will have any trouble getting rid of the bottles.  As for the boob, well, I would really like to continue until 2 years, but I don't think Joshua shares that view point.  He has given me grief already, with the refusing to feed during the day (hence moving to bottles during the day) and then we've even weathered a significant strike where he refused to feed completely for 3.5 days.  I really thought it was over then so I didn't pump at all, but being the stubborn person that I am I kept throwing my boobs in his face until he finally gave in!  My supply really took a hit though and I had to bust my gut for a week to try and recover and I was really tempted to just give up, but alas, here we are, still breastfeeding.  I think if I can just get past the 12 month mark, I will feel like less of a failure if he decides to give it up though.  Before he was born, I recognised the value of breast feeding and wanted to give it a try, but I didn't feel like it was the end of the world if I didn't like it or if for some reason it didn't work out.  Working in child care, I've seen tons of kids thrive on formula, so not breast feeding is not the end of the world right?  (I think I actually said this to my first midwife Jane, and I could tell she was shocked and did not approve of such a comment, though she didn't come out and say that!  Haha!)  Anyway, then Joshua was born and things were so bad...  after he started having seizures and was moved into the NICU, I didn't get to hold him again until he was 5 days old.  He was in a medicated coma, covered in tubes and wires and I had never felt more helpless in my life.  There wasn't much I could do for him at that point.  Except pump my milk.  At least it was something to make me feel useful.  As a result, I think I have a lot of emotional attachment to breastfeeding and breast milk in general, and I experienced so much guilt over deciding to combine breastfeeding and formula at 9 months of age, and I literally cried my eyes out when I thought Joshua didn't want to breast feed anymore.  I know breast feeding is an emotional thing for most women who do it, but I feel like those early days in the hospital have made it that much harder for me to give it up, because it was just such a huge deal then.  We are nearly at 12 months though, and I am slowly making peace with the idea that however long Joshua decides to keep going after that is a bonus and I don't need to beat myself up about it if we don't make it to the magical 2 years recommended by the World Health Organisation.  It is pretty clear by now that Joshua makes his own rules!
Today he actually had two really decent breastfeeds, 2 full sippy cups of Toddler milk (It is Vanilla flavoured, no wonder he likes it so much!) and half a cup of cow's milk.  That is a good day for milk around here!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Little things are big things :)

Joshua is 11 months old today and I feel like in the last few days we've been having a few mini break throughs.
Tonight, I am sure Joshua handed me his spoon when I said "Give Mummy the spoon, Ta".  Otherwise, he dropped the spoon into my open hand and it was a fluke.  Of course, I always assume fluke until I can get a reasonable number of repetitions, so that one is still up for debate.
I also think he was giving me kisses tonight.  I was laying on my bed on my back breastfeeding him and he was laying horizontally across my body on his tummy drinking  (yes, this sounds kind of weird, but it was working for us LOL)  and while he was drinking he kept popping his head up and leaning over to my face and giving me what I think were very slobery kisses.  (I am really hoping that is what they were...  otherwise I just have a super weird kid that likes putting drool on my face!)  Oh, I should also add that he was doing a perfect pincer grasp too....  while grabbing my nipple.   I wanted to put this as my status update on facebook, because yes, it is really that exciting...  but I thought perhaps my enthusiasm at having my son using my nipples as pincer grip practice might not be shared by everyone.  Oh well!  ;)
I've been encouraging both of these things for months (giving me kisses, and giving me something when I ask him to - not grabbing my nipples!) so I am excited and encouraged that it seems like maybe he is starting to understand.

Gross motor wise, he seems to be really starting to *think* about crawling.  He gets up on his knees and elbows all the time and spends a lot of time bouncing around like that.  He is also getting much better at pushing up on straight arms.  He is still really struggling with intentional forward motion though.  He sees something in front of him, wants to go toward it, but tends to roll to the side every time he tries.  His arms let him down a lot, but slowly but surely, we are seeing improvement.  He looks like he is getting a lot stronger on hands and knees too.  He doesn't get himself in that position on his own very often (he prefers his elbows to his hands) but when I place him in that position he is holding himself for much longer than he used to and is able to rock back and forth very well.  I had quite a fun little session with him this afternoon trying to "teach him how to crawl".  I folded a towel into quarters lengthwise and passed it under his belly and used it like a hoist to walk him around while he was on his hands and knees.  I've tried this before and he generally didn't want to put his hands down.  Today though, he did great.  Of course, I realise this is not teaching him how to actually crawl, but I hope to inspire a bit of movement in him.  I told him "You know, when you can crawl, you get to go all over the house" and I walked him all around the house with him on his hands and knees.  He giggled and giggled and thought it was great.  It hurt my back bending over like that, but it was worth it!  After that I did some practice with him to try and encourage his protective reflexes.  By that I mean, putting his hands out to stop himself from falling when he loses his balance in a sitting position.  As I mentioned in a previous post, these develop to the front first, then the sides and then to the back last.  He pretty much has the front down, but to the sides or backwards, not at all.  So today I played a game where he was sitting up and I was behind him tipping him from side to side and encouraging him to put his hand out.  He actually did SO WELL.  I was impressed!  As for sitting in general, he is starting to look a lot more relaxed, like it is less of an effort than it used to be.  He still has moments where I can see he is working really hard, but other times he looks like it is no effort at all.  At one point, I had it in my head that I wanted him to sit unassisted by 10 months.  I had 10 months in my head because this is the age that a "normal" baby is usually referred for services if they are not yet sitting unassisted.  So I guess I kind of thought that if he could sit by 10 months, things weren't that bad.  As time went on though, I started to think that maybe that wasn't realistic, so I pushed my mental goal for him out to be sitting by his birthday.  And he has done it.  In actual fact, he WAS 10 months when he officially mastered sitting.  So now, my mental goal is for him to be crawling by his first birthday.  Now...  that is only 4 weeks away and honestly, I won't be holding my breath for it, but you just never know.  Things can change fast around here!

I went to Target on the weekend to pick up the presents that I put on layby for Joshua's birthday and I walked past the baby section and saw all the big fat pregnant women browsing the aisles, and I nearly cried to think that that was ME this time last year!  I did love being pregnant, and I love all the excitement and anticipation that goes along with it, and it spins me out to look at Joshua now and think that he was in my belly once upon a time.  It also makes me a little sad.  A fellow HIE mother once posted a photo of her pregnant belly and captioned it saying that it was when her son was still perfectly made.  Those words have struck a chord with me, because it is so very true.  This time last year, Joshua didn't have anything wrong with him.  Joshua didn't have HIE.  I didn't even know what HIE was!  He was still perfectly made....  But at the same time, when I look at Joshua now, I don't see any faults.  He is not like other kids his age, but to me, he is still perfect.
In the spirit of reminiscing, here is a couple of photos of me and Rod last year when I was 38 weeks pregnant, excited and anxious to meet our amazing little boy..  When I look at these photos it doesn't shock me one bit that I have as many stretch marks as I do now!  Even my face was fat! :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Joshua's Hearing Test

Today Joshua had a hearing test.  Forgive me if you have already seen my Facebook status update, I usually try to keep most of the details here and not there, but I was pretty upset this morning!

So, every child has a newborn hearing screening which involves placing earphones on the baby and attaching electrodes to their head.  The earphones play different sounds, and if they are heard, the brain will respond.  This is in turn picked up by the electrodes on the head, and generates a pass or fail result.  Joshua had this test done before he came home from the hospital, and he passed.  The man who did his test informed me that Joshua would require a follow up hearing test at 9 months of age, as he was considered to be in a high risk category for hearing problems due to his HIE/Seizures and having spent more than 48 hours in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  He told me someone would contact me to arrange it.  9 months came and went and I hadn't heard anything, so I started to wonder if maybe I should follow it up, especially given that I was having concerns about his language development.  Thinking about it must have been enough, because finally someone contacted me about it at 10.5 months old!

I'd heard a few things from people who had also taken their (typical) child for a 9 month old hearing test.        I was pretty sure from their description that Joshua would not do what was required.  (Even some of the typical children were less than co-operative!)  So, I was feeling pretty anxious about this hearing test.  Not because I am worried about his hearing...  I'm not.  My opinion is that he hears fine.  But more so that I was concerned about whether or not the type of testing would be developmentally appropriate for Joshua.  The appointment started out with the audiologist having a look at his ears.  Everything looked fine, so she then did a pressure test which is intended to confirm whether or not the ear drums vibrate appropriately.  Again, everything was fine with that, so then it was time to do the hearing test.
She led us to a "booth" where another lady was waiting to assist with the test.  I think this lady must have thought Joshua was younger than he was, because the first lady started to pull out a chair and the second lady said "Oh he might be a bit young for that".  I looked at the chair, and it was basically like a regular chair but with a high chair tray attached to it.  He might have been ok with it, but likely not, so I said "Yeah, he can sit, but not that well."  So, then it was decided that he should sit on my lap.
The idea of test was that they would play a noise, and Joshua should look in the direction of the noise, where he would be rewarded with a puppet that lights up.  The audiologist told me they would spend some time first conditioning him to do this.  I was skeptical from the beginning, but I didn't say so, as he may have surprised me.  So, the first lady went off into her box while the other lady was in the booth with us to judge his responses.  It was also her job to try and teach him to look at the puppets.  Each time the noise played, she would jump up and rush over to the puppet making a big deal about it and trying to encourage Joshua to look at it.  He didn't.  He would look at her, but paid NO attention to the puppets.  A couple of times he jumped in fright at the lady jumping up like a mad woman trying to get his attention on these puppets.  They tried for a quite a while, which I found to be pretty stressful as I knew he wasn't going to do it and it was making me upset.  I was actually holding back tears.  Finally the lady said to the other lady "I don't think this is going to work, he is only looking at me, he is not looking at the puppets at all" to which I said "Yeah, I don't think he will do it", to which the lady said "Mum's usually know best about that kind of thing".  So then they had some discussion and decided on a different approach, which they apparently use for younger children, before they use the "puppet" approach. For this second attempt, the first lady returned to the room with us, and sat behind me, while the second lady stayed in front to judge Joshua's reactions.  This second test involved shaking a variety of "noise makers" to either side, with the intention that Joshua should turn his head to look at the sound or respond in some way to the noise.  Of course...  to do this test, (and the first one) they gave him a toy to "distract him".  So all the while the lady is ringing these bells etc. Joshua is going to town with the toy he had, banging it with his hands and babbling away.  My instinct was to take the toy away so he could pay attention to the sounds, but I restrained myself.  After all, there must be a reason for that kind of stupidity right?

Anyway, the second test was a bit more successful in that Joshua responded sometimes.  The rest of the time, he was too busy playing with his toy or getting annoyed with the situation.   So, overall the results are inconclusive.  They said they got definite responses for sounds at 50 decibels.  They described that as being loud conversation.  Otherwise, nothing certain.  I attempted to provide them with some anecdotal evidence, but they basically shut me down.  For instance, I told him that he can hear it when you whisper to him.  They said it depends on how close you are to him.  I replied that you didn't need to be close to him, he can hear it from quite far away.  To which they replied that he might only look because he sees my mouth move (REALLY?).  For the record, I tested this out again when we got home, and I can be standing across the room and whisper his name while he is facing away from me and he will look.  I also told them that he can easily hear noises from across the room and will turn and look at them.  To which they told me that hearing "noises" is not the same as hearing speech.  (Umm well...  the sounds they were using to do his hearing test weren't speech either!)  So, they told me they want him to come back in a couple of months.  They hope he will be able to do their stupid puppet test then.  I wouldn't put money on it!

I left the hearing test quite exasperated and got into the car and cried on the way home!  It is so frustrating to feel like you are always having to "prove" your child's abilities.  I am frustrated by the fact the tests do not seem to be appropriate for children that are not typically developing.  They were not testing his hearing at all, but testing a behaviour.  When we had our foster children, one of them also needed to have a hearing test.  For his hearing test, they wanted him to place a peg in a pegboard when he heard a sound.  That would be fantastic - if he understood how to put a peg in the peg board!  They tried him with a test geared towards a younger child (which I suspect was probably the puppets) and things were hit and miss with him too!  It just seems to be such a poor way to test hearing when the results are so dependent on the child's ability to behave in a particular way.  It makes me want to scream, and I am really not looking forward to going back again because I don't think it is going to be a roaring success next time either.  I think they need to do it like they did when he was a newborn, though with older children, this generally requires sedation.  In that case, I am not sure I would want to do it, because when I personally don't think he has a hearing problem, in my mind it is hard to justify having him sedated for a test.  But having said that, you do hear about children who DO have hearing problems even though their parents never suspected it.  So I would hate to be in that situation too.

Can nothing be simple?

Monday, April 4, 2011

10 Month Assessment

So, it is all said and done now, and Joshua actually did better than expected.  It is possible that I am a hard marker, but he also did decide to start doing a few random things like saying Dadada in the past couple of days that worked in his favour.

So, the results are:

Fine motor skills and problem solving-  Delayed
Communication, Gross Motor Skills and Personal/Social-  Borderline/Requires monitoring.

By borderline, I mean, if they were a point lower, they would also be delayed, but they just scraped by into the grey area instead of the black!

When I scored him, I got all of them in the black except for one of them!

It is important to know that the points are allocated according to whether a child can do something all the time, only sometimes, or not at all.  Joshua scrapes through with a lot of "sometimes".  Like, he might have done it once or twice in his life, but that still counts.  Also, the things he gets a "Yes" for, are still very hard for him.  Such as sitting unassisted.  He can do it.  He can sit up straight for at least a few minutes, so he gets a Yes.  But when you look at a typical baby sitting up, they are relaxed and carefree, and playing.  When you look at Joshua sitting unassisted, you can tell that it is still very much hard work for him.  As his PT put it, he has many skills that are "emerging" but we want to work towards them becoming commonplace for him.

So, what does this all mean?  Well, first of all, it means that he doesn't need to be referred to Carpentaria Disability Services.  They don't consider him to be that severe that he would need their service.  She said he would need to be right down low in the black areas in at least three areas for a referral there.  So that is one weight off my mind that we can stay where we are.

In terms of his speech, he is starting to put speech sounds together (now, as of a couple of days ago!), but his receptive language is unclear. He doesn't follow any kind of instructions such as "Give me the toy", and when you ask him a question like "Where is Daddy?" he makes no attempt to look for Daddy.  In other words, he doesn't outwardly show many signs of understanding speech.  The only exception to this, is that when you sing "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands" he will sometimes clap his hands.  Oh, and if I ask him if he wants milk, he starts to cry!  So, he is being referred to the speech therapists at the Children's Development Team also.  They have long waiting lists though, but his PT thinks the lists for babies are not as long as for older kids, and that his referral date goes in as being the date he started at CDT and not todays date, so that will also help him jump the list a bit.  She is also going to speak to them and ask if they have any ideas or resources that might be useful in the mean time before we actually get to see them.  She said she is also going to try and have the speech therapists attend baby group periodically.  She tried to arrange this for last term, but they both had other things on during baby group, but she isn't sure of their schedule on Monday's this term.  He has his hearing test on Friday, so that will also rule out any hearing related problems.  

He has achieved many of his goals that were set last time, such as sitting unassisted, using his right hand more, and rolling.  So now he has some new goals.  They are to independently move into and out of sitting.  This is going to take a long time and be a lot of hard work to achieve.  Using his right hand more is likely to be an ongoing thing, though he has made improvements.  Another goal is for him to be pivoting on his tummy (which he has also made improvement with over the past couple of weeks!) and to start gain mobility through crawling (be it on hands and knees, army crawling, whatever).    The other goal is for standing.  We need to try and encourage him to take weight equally through both his legs and ensure proper positioning to ensure that his feet don't start to roll in.  He tends to bear most of his weight on the left leg and when you try and shift it to the right, the right leg starts to buckle a bit, so he needs to work on that.  In addition, it is still very important to practice those skills that he has gotten a tick for, such as sitting and rolling, so that he might start to find them easier.

The occupational therapist is going to be providing some more input into his fine motor skills also, but his PT said "I doubt she will tell you anything you don't already do with him though" LOL.

In terms of his muscle tone, there has been overall improvement, but the biggest problem right now is being noted with his right leg.  There is an obvious difference in how tight it is compared to the left leg.  The positive thing is that it still has full range of motion when moved slowly, so this indicates that it is not a physical problem with the muscles, but an issue with the nerves, which are of course, controlled by the brain.  It is really important to stretch that leg regularly to ensure that it maintains full range of motion.  I've been concerned about the possibility of muscle shortening, and I discussed that with the physio today and she said that it is a possibility but that she doesn't think that Joshua is at high risk of that happening because he does still move his leg, and when the leg is at rest, it is usually fully extended.  It would be a bigger problem if he kept the muscles contracted all the time.  But we definitely want to keep working it, stretching those muscles all the time so that no long term problems can develop.  In terms of his right arm, she feels that muscle tone is no longer a significant issue, and that the problem he has with his right arm is more to do with control than tone.  It no longer feels much tighter than his left arm, he just has a harder time making it do what he wants.  It CAN do everything, it is just a lot more difficult.  He uses his two hands together quite well now in his play, so she is really happy about that.

Overall, she is really pleased with him and said that I am one of her favourite Mums because I work so hard with Joshua.  She said she loves it when I come in every week and tell her all of the things I have been trying with him, while some parents unfortunately make minimal effort in working with their kids.  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Finger painting and other tidbits

Today Joshua did his first finger painting.  I feel like a bit of a slacker being an early childhood educator and not even doing finger painting with my own son until he was 10.5 months old.  LOL
I am posting his painting here though, because it shows visually his preference for using his left hand.

The left side has been smeared to oblivion, while the right side was hardly touched.

I posted last week about Joshua's upcoming assessment and how I am worried about his language development.  In true Joshua style, he decided on Friday that he would start saying Dadada.  Yay for progress!!  

Today, he also thrilled me by doing some copying.  He made a funny sniffing noise with his nose, so I repeated it back to him.  He laughed and did it back to me.  I tried it again a couple of times over the morning and each time he copied me and thought it was funny.  This is pretty huge, because it is actually quite rare for him to do any copying.  Of course, by the afternoon he was tired of that trick and stopped doing it, and just laughed at me while I tried to get him to do it on a video!  

I am also happy to say that he is doing a pretty nice pincer grip *sometimes*.  I'd say maybe 10% of the time.  The rest of the time he either uses all of his fingers in a raking motion, or does some weird "almost but not quite pincer grip" thing.  Here is a few pictures of him practicing with some red kidney beans.  Mmm Yum!  Haha.  I definitely need to keep giving him some more practice!  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My verdict on the Swimming Neck Ring

Let me start by explaining the purpose of these neck rings.  I feel like I need to, because a simple google search for "swimming neck ring" leads one to find comments such as the ones below:

Laura says:

I could never do that to a child. Makes me feel sick. 

Molly says:
Honestly, that is the most horrifying and heart breaking thing I have ever seen.

When has suspending an infant by its head ever been thought of as a good idea????

Jamie says:

Those videos made me sick to my stomach. Why on earth would somebody do that to their poor baby?The babies aren’t even enjoying themselves.

Ilissa says:
I usually don’t comment on this sort of this but because I am appalled by this, I must. I think this is an absolutely horrible idea!
Here’s why:
1.) It is unsafe.
2.) It is ridiculous.
3.) It allows parents to get away with inadequate parenting.
4.) It decreases family and bonding time.
5.) It creates less than ideal memories for both the child and the parents.
6.) etc… I could go on and on.

Overall, I think this is an awful idea. I really don’t understand how something like this could be allowed to be sold.

Heather says:

This is scary and sad. What is wrong with people?! This is abuse, and these terrible things should be banned! 

So, as you can see, there are a lot of negative opinions out there.  So then WHY would a parent choose to use a neck ring for their child?  Here's why:

Hydrotherapy (water healing) has been recognized as beneficial since the dawn of civilization.
Water neutralizes the effects of gravity enabling your child to move with less effort.
Water therapy will improve lung capacity and strengthens extremities (arms/hands/fingers and legs/feet/toes).
Hydrotherapy studies document beneficial effects such as enhanced physical/mental development, increased weight gain and should be considered as an adjunct to traditional treatment strategies.

Any baby born before 37 weeks is at risk for “developmental delays.”
Twin or multi-birth babies are often born early and have lower birth weight, making them high risk.
Low birth weight (LBW or ELBW) is another risk factor for developmental delay.
Babies born between 32-37 weeks (the “barely” premature) have the highest incidence of learning disabilities once they start school.
Babies born between 23-28 weeks are at the highest risk for lifelong disabilities, such as cerebal palsy.
Birth trauma, birth injury, or any complication at birth increases the risk of neuromotor problems, such as seizures or ‘hypotonia’ (reduced muscle tone).
85% of brain development occurs during the first 3yrs of life – this provides an opportunity for water therapy to enhance a baby’s physical and mental development. 
So, Joshua suffered from a birth injury, has neuromotor problems, has had seizures and has the potential to have seizures in the future, has abnormal muscle tone, motor delays and is likely facing a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.  THAT is why we got a swimming neck ring :)

Joshua doesn't move his arms well, and particularly favours his left side.  I often refer to his right arm as being "decoration".  I hoped that putting him in the water in a neck ring would encourage more freedom of movement without having to fight against gravity, and that it would also encourage more equal use of both sides of his body.  I also hoped it would be fun!  I had heard such great things about it from other parents and watched a video on facebook of another little boy Joshua's age who has similar issues having the grandest of times in his bath, kicking around, splashing, flipping over this way and that way.

So... what do I think of it?

First of all, I tried it in the bath at home.  He cried.  The second time I tried it, he liked it a bit better but it wasn't the roaring success I had anticipated it being.  He didn't really move around in it, he just sat there kind of stunned.

Still, I really wanted to try it out in a pool so he would have more depth and really get to experience the weightlessness that it could offer him.  I was really apprehensive about it though....  Going to a public pool where other people might see us...  What if people thought things like the comments above?  What if they actually said something to me?  I am not sure how I would handle it.  I am a bit of a sook and don't really like confrontation.  In the end though, we went this morning. Nice and early to beat everyone else to the pool LOL.

And well....  it still wasn't a roaring success.  I don't think he feels very secure in it.  He doesn't move his arms, for the most part, he keeps them flexed and holding onto the ring (for dear life) LOL.  I try to take him by the arms and play games with him like Row row row your boat and try to encourage him to start splashing with his hands etc, but as soon as I let go of his hands, they go right back to holding onto the ring.

Here are some photos from today:

He didn't have a terrible time, but it also hasn't proved to be the amazing therapy device I hoped it would be.  (For us...  MANY others find it to be a wonderful piece of equipment!)  So, on that note, it is a good thing that I only bought a cheap Ebay version and didn't part with the $100+ for the "real" therapy versions  :)