Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Update and a Word On Orthotics

First, an update on John and then on to the answers to your questions. John continues to do well. We are working on sitting unassisted which he is now able to do this for a couple of minutes while reaching in front of him. What usually topples him is when he turns his body to either the right or left, but he will get it with practice. He is able to maintain his balance if we stabilize his legs which is what we did when first starting to sit. We are also working on his standing which John is able to stand with us holding his hands.

The reason that we are working on standing is not that he is ready to walk because he is no where near that point. But I want him to feel what it is like to bear weight through his hips and his ankles. This also gives me an opportunity to see whether or not he distributes his weight evenly over his ankles.

This leads me to the topic of orthotics. Personally, I think that orthotics have their place and can help in warding off musculoskeletal problems. Before using orthotics to correct a postural deviation, one has to look at whether the deviation is skeletal or muscular. This analysis is best done by a PT who is familiar with this type of evaluation.

Weak muscles can and should be strengthened to hopefully improve the issue, whereas skeletal deviations often require more aggressive intervention. To apply orthotics to a child with muscle weakness may serve to weaken the muscle further; however, the use of orthotics can play a role in cases of muscle weakness. Therefore, it is important to get a proper evaluation as to the cause of the deviation.

It is important to remember that children with Down syndrome vary just as much as children without Down syndrome. Although it is important to note that children with Down syndrome do have a tendency to have skeletal deviations in feet and hips that require orthotics.

As for the SPIO trunk support, I will give my thoughts in the next post.

As for teaching a child with Down syndrome how to read which was also asked, I will have to pass that question off to a more experienced parent of a child with Down syndrome. I will say that Joy and I have always read to our children from a very early age until they were able to ready independently. While I have no first hand experience with teaching one of these children to read, we have already begun to introduce John to books by reading to him. John has 6 people in this family that love to read to him and we all share in that, so hopefully we will see some fruit from this in a couple of years.

As for the reading program asked about, I have not heard about this program.


Monica said...

Jay, What a great resource you are!! I wish your blog had been around when Adam was a baby!!! Sounds like John is doing great!!

Becca said...

Woodbine House publishes a book called "Teaching Reading to Children With Down Syndrome". I haven't read this book yet, but my mother just bought it and is reading it. LOL Actually, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it. People with Ds are visual learners, and I feel that this year will be an important year in teaching Samantha how to read. I've also heard about a program called Love and Learning, but have not yet looked into it. It's a learn-at-home program for teaching children to read, and I've heard good things about it. Good for you for being proactive! Samantha's love of books often trumps outside playtime at school. She'll refuse to go outside, and will want to just sit in and "read". Which, while it makes me happy that she loves books, is also a problem because she need exercise and needs to work on her playground equipment/mobility skills.

Jeanette said...

Jay, thanks for your thougths on Orthotics. I appreciate it. We haven't gone down that path, Sydney seems to be standing just fine, but when I see a fellow parent who is highly aggressive with therapies, it makes me question things. As for the visual learning, our association has been piloting a visual based Learning Program to teach kids to read. It starts at age two. We have had two months of classes and the parents are RAVING about it. Here is a link to the LA based program I am doing this with my typical 5 year old and he LOVES it. We read to Sydney every night, just like her brother. Book was one of her first signs.

Tausha said...

I think your little guy and my little guy are at about the same point. Sam can sit for a few minutes but he still needs to have you there in case he gets wobbly. He also started putting weight on his feet with us holding his hands. Sounds like both guys are doing so great!!!! If I ever get down that he isn't crawling or walking then I just figure, hey, I don't have to babyproof my house yet and I can still keep track of him easily. :-)