What's new with Will

Posted by  | Friday, November 2, 2007  at 9:04 PM  
Will is WALKING!! Not all of the time yet, but maybe 75% of the time? He will be 17 months old in less than two weeks and I think he will be walking almost all of the time by then. I am actually sitting here at the computer with Will's baby book in front of me as I get ready to record his first steps, first words and all of the other things he is doing lately.

Will has about 4-5 spoken words that most people could recognize. They include hey, Gigi, baby, Dada and up. There are several others that we can recognize, but others couldn't. These include kitty, Lizzie (the cat), Lily (doggie cousin), Lollie (his Aunt) and others I'm surely forgetting. He does try to say Mama on occasion with prompting, but not regularly. He seems to really like the "L" sound and words with that in it.

We do sign language with Will and he picks up new signs almost daily. I definitely can't list all of those words, but will say that he has mastered the first ones we started with including milk, more, eat, please and baby. He also makes up his own signs to communicate new things to us all of the time. I can't say enough for how signing with Will has really helped us to be able to communicate with him. I'm convinced that had we not signed, he would have no more spoken words than he does now yet he would be 100 times more frustrated on a daily basis.

The biggest challenge with Will has been eating. It all started around 9 months old when we started to give him crunchy finger foods like Cheerios and Gerber Puffs. After about 2 months of choking (Jacob and I have each performed the Heimlich at least twice) and gagging on these two items, we learned that he was a little behind in this area. I guess technically it is called dysphasia (swallowing disorder) and was probably caused by a number of factors including his prematurity (born at 32 weeks) and reflux. Will saw a speech/feeding therapist weekly from 11 months to 14 months.

After much practice he is now a perfectly proficient eater, but not always a willing one. I'm sure that this comes with the territory of a toddler, but it can be stressful when we don't keep things in perspective and start to worry about his weight and nutrition.


Hollie said...

I bet you were scared to death every time he choked or when he was under the supervision of someone else.

Can you elaborate on how the Speech/Eating Therpist worked with Will concerning his swalling and speaking? I'm curious. We all could learn from this.

Christina said...

Yes, choking was scary. I think I cried every time it happened! (So did Will, poor thing.)

Will was technically seen by a speech pathologist that specialized in feeding therapies. She treated kids that are extreme picky eaters, have sensory issues (we did), have muscle tone issues that lead to difficulty swallowing (us again), and LOTS more.

Basically Will had tight cheek muscles and poor tongue movements that didn't allow him to move his food around in order to properly chew it and swallow it.

Therapy consisted of a LOT of modeling behaviors and monitoring his progress as we SLOWLY moved from pureed foods only to foods with textures and then finger foods. At the recommendation of the therapist, we fed purees only for a lot longer than normal in order to prevent choking. We learned about which foods were age appropriate and how he should be progressing through different food types, which he wasn't.

He first mastered crunchy things since they reinforce chewing by the sounds they make (graham crackers were used a lot because they dissolve so easily...less likely to choke). Then he moved to purees with crunchy texture added. Then crunchy outside, softer inside (like french fries, cheese toast, cereal bar). The last was soft foods because he forgot (and still does sometimes) to chew those.

There was no work at all with his speaking, only his swallowing. He still has issues with certain things, but those issues all seem age appropriate at this point.

Does that help? Ask more questions if you want...

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