Averi has been approved for a government funded Early Intervention program called Help Me Grow. It is an awesome program that helps her in all areas of development up until age three (and it doesn’t hurt that it’s free and they come to the house). At least once a month her Early Intervention Specialist, Susan, comes and “plays” with us and gives us ideas of things we can work on with Averi to help her reach her next milestone.
This last month we have been working on tracking objects. Averi has become quite the pro and will now track not only with her eyes but actually turn her head 180 degrees side to side and also up and down. Recently Susan has been showing us ways we can do tummy time without putting pressure on Averi’s G-tube. This consists of drapping her chest over things like your leg, a rolled up blanket, or your chest, so that there is a space where her G-tube comes out.
I never realized how important tummy time was until she explained that it is the basis for holding up her head and learning the crawl. Babies with G-tubes can get behind quickly if they do not get used to the feeling of being on their tummy. I’m having a hard time with this one because any time Averi is on her stomach her G-tube leaks to the point of soaking her clothes.
When Susan was here on the 14th, I asked her if we should be doing any oral stimulation for Averi since she isn’t eating. I have been told that learning to suck and eat is the basis for talking. She came back the next week with a physical therapist and an occupational therapist. They showed me ways to stimulate her mouth like getting her to suck on a pacifier dipped in milk, stretching her mouth so she has to pull against it, and getting her to imitate me talking to her.
They also have a long chart with all the milestones listed on it that a child should reach by age three. Susan always checks to see how Averi has improved and marks it down. Currently, Averi is functioning at the level of a 4-month-old. That’s exciting because it’s not even adjusted for her being a month early. People are always comenting about how strong she is. I have nothing to compare her to, but Susan says she has great muscle tone for having DS. It is so wonderful to have all this support helping Averi Grow!