Today, I have a confession. I’m no athlete. Surprised? Nah, I didn’t think so.
I used to be fairly fit though, before little Tootles came along. In my 20s and 30s, I worked our regularly at a gym, played squash, rode my bike and hiked. After Tootles? I tried? Ultimately, all my attempts were failures. I haven’t been the greatest role model for physical activity for him.
Since Tootles was born, exercise has been harder. And all along, I thought it would get easier! I haven’t given up. Let’s just say I’m in a period of transition. This is simply background, and to dissuade you from the belief that I spend my days on a couch with a fried chicken leg in one hand, and bon-bons in the other.
Tootles has gross and fine motor skill issues. He has no peripheral vision. But despite these things, he can see a Ford Shelby GT, going the opposite direction over 300 feet away. He can balance on a curb. He can bounce on a trampoline. He does 25-30 sit ups in one sitting (under pressure). He runs and hops.
He can’t jump rope. Last week, he couldn’t balance on one foot and he has a lot of difficulty holding his pencil for homework. In all likelihood, he has dyspraxia. Mary commented on this post, two weeks ago and introduced me to the concept of dyspraxia (Thank you Mary!) which is defined like this:
|Dyspraxia is the generic term used to cover a range of disorders affecting the initiation, organization and performance of action. It has been described as having trouble getting the body to do what we want, when we want. It is an immaturity of the way the brain processes information, resulting in messages not being fully transmitted to the body and is a learning difficulty that can be present from birth (developmental dyspraxia) or as a result of brain damage suffered from a stroke or other trauma (acquired dyspraxia).
Dyspraxia is described as having two main elements
• Ideational dyspraxia – difficulty with planning a sequence of coordinated movements
• Ideo-Motor dyspraxia – difficulty with executing a plan, even though it is known.
You can learn more here.
No one had ever mentioned it to me before. When I read about it, I felt that Tootles has it. But I’m just his mom and I’m not sure.
When he was assessed last week by an occupational therapist, he could not stand on one foot. He also could not bounce a tennis ball with one hand, or alternate between hands while bouncing. He could not catch a ball.
Within 24 hours of that assessment, I purchased a ‘playground’ ball.
Every day since, my husband, Tootles and I have been outside trying to get him to bounce the ball. The first day, he did not bounce it once without hand over hand help. He’d watch it roll away.
He also has a devilish side. We live in a woodsy area. With rattlesnakes making special appearances. He’d look at us, raise the ball and throw it out in the woods. We explained about the snakes and how if we get bit, we will have to go to the hospital. After that, he looked his dad in the eye and said, “Want Daddy to go to the hospital!” laughed, and threw the ball out there again. It’s not evil. He just doesn’t get the “danger”.
His intent is to force us to quit. It’s hot. It’s not easy. So, he does it to get his way. Too bad. We get the ball and he has to continue. We’ve added time outs for throwing it. No success. But something did make a difference, night before last.
I told him, “If you can bounce the ball 10 times in a row, like this (I demonstrate), then you don’t have to take a bath tonight. If you can’t, you go straight to the tub.” He got that.
And the very next time, he bounced that ball like his life depended on it. I think the child is now ready for the NBA. He bounced it 12 times in a row to be sure. He declared victory (“NO BATHIE!!”) and danced.
So if this is dyspraxia, everyone can stop the research. I have the cure. The only prerequisite is that your kid hates bath time as much as mine. He was a little stinky that night but it was worth it.
Last night, he was going into the tub, like it or not. We braved the rattlesnake den several times once he learned that 10 times in a row was not going to earn him a “bath pass” but he did bounce it.
I pulled out his baseball gear as well. He loves his Fisher Price pitching machine. Whatever hand-eye coordination issues he has, they do not involve the mechanics of hitting a ball with the bat on this thing:
Dad and I also pitched a few and he made contact with about 75 percent of them.
When we came inside. I asked him to stand on one foot. “I wanna stop doing this,” he said, as we began. He tried to hold my hand. He tried to hold a chair. I told him no each time. “Just lift your foot a little.”
He did it for the count of three! Both feet!
Sometimes, it’s hard to sort his behaviors from his disability. Or maybe he’s just learning quickly and gaining confidence. I don’t know. All I know is what he could not do last week, he can do now. I’ll take it. No questions asked. (Well, okay maybe a couple questions.)