Monday, February 25, 2013

Natalie's Progress in Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy

The pictures below are from one of Natalie's recent Occupational Therapy sessions.  She currently has 2 sessions per week each of OT, ST (speech therapy) and PT (physical therapy).  Six total sessions a week keeps her busy in between her regular school activities with one on one expert assistance.

Natalie's weakest area has always been her fine motor skills.  She has a long list of goals to meet to catch up to her peers, and she is making good progress.  She recently was able to use scissors on her own and is getting better at holding her crayons correctly.  Her hand/eye coordination is gradually improving.  Since she didn't have the opportunity to crawl in China her upper body is not very strong.  Her OT has her crawling down stairs on her hands and knees and doing downward dog yoga pose to help build strength in her arms and shoulders.  Natalie loves these sessions.  She works very hard and gives the therapist 100% of her attention.  It amazes me that a 3 year old can stay so focused.

In the realm of PT, Natalie has made huge strides.  She can walk up and down the stairs now by herself while holding on to the rail.  She is beginning to be able to pedal a tricycle.  Her running and overall balance have improved a lot. She still has a ways to go to catch up, but she has come so far for a child that could not walk on her own until she was 21 months old.

Natalie's speech continues to improve.  There are three main types of ST: receptive, expressive and articulation.  Natalie doesn't need any help in the receptive area.  Before she turned 3 she tested at a 3.6 year old level...amazing for a child that had at that point only been exposed to English for 14 months.  Expressively she is only slightly behind - not enough to justify therapy.  Her ST is for articulation.  Natalie has a fantastic speech therapist.  Gary and I also work with her on pronunciation on a continual basis at home.  Natalie's teachers, Gary and I are seeing her make a lot of progress.  Her teachers say that she is engaging her classmates in conversation more since the beginning of the year.  I think Natalie is gaining confidence in expressing herself as people are able to understand more and more of what she says.  We still experience many moments a day of intense frustration when she can not make herself understood.  Sometimes Natalie will break down into tears after saying the same thing 10 times and realizing that we are still completely clueless about what she is trying to say.  It's not possible to console her or gloss over the issue by just saying "ok". She will say "No OK!" meaning that is not an appropriate response to what she is saying.  As one of her previous teachers said "Natalie is wicked smart".  You can rarely get away with any shortcuts around her.

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A word of advice, if you have the slightest idea that your child might need some type of therapy act now.  It won't hurt to get them tested.  I so wish we had gotten all of this started sooner, but I'm very grateful for the services Natalie is receiving now.


Heather Attwood said...

Well said! Elspeth is "supposedly" normal but we still have some concerns about speech. Because she is already in the system, if they do not self correct she can be picked right back up instead of waiting. It really is SOOOO worth it.
Way to go Natalie! Keep it up.

Bebe Blogger said...

So true! It never hurts to ere on the safe side. I am so glad we decided to start Audrey in ST when we did. Three years later, she got to "graduate" from therapy and we couldn't have been prouder! :) Glad Natalie is doing well in her therapies!

Kathy said...

I'm amazed by what the state covers! We live in California (we moved from Colorado in July). At Norah's 18-month-old appointment, I told our pediatrician that she wasn't saying any words at all. "But she does say Mommy and Daddy, right?"

"No, she doesn't say anything." We've now got a speech therapist, "free" to us (though we realize we pay for it through taxes), and Norah loves her. She now says please, thank you, vacuum, and bath, and signs much more than that. It's great!