Tag Archives: righty

Mia Changita

Changita means “little monkey” in Spanish. We are lucky to have Latina au pairs caring for my girls so here is “Mia Changita” doing her monkey thing!

Mia continues to amaze me, now at age six. This video is from a few weeks ago. Her inventiveness, strength, experimentation, and courage are all palpable. And, it’s really hard to tell that she had a stroke as she does most everything with both arms and hands and both legs and feet.

If you want to have some appreciation for this beyond imagining the abdominal strength needed to do this, check out my earlier post about Monkey Mia from when Mia first mastered the monkey bars at age four, or this one on neuroplasticity, or Mia learning to do skin the cat, and why Mia is an outlier as explained by Karen Pape, MD.

Tonight, Mia found the splint we used for constraint therapy when she was a toddler and until she was nearly 3 years old. She put it on even though it’s too small, and said she was going to give herself a “challenge” and give “righty” practice doing everything and that’s how she got ready for bed, using only her hand that doesn’t work quite as well as the other one for fine motor tasks. I asked her if she wants us to get a new splint that fits her better so she can do this “challenge” more often. She said yes. She asked me the name of the orthotist that we need to go see. I told her he’s Dr. Wall and he’s very funny. His name cracked her up.

My Last Daycare Check

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My last daycare check is in the mail. I reach this milestone with a mix of emotions.

In the first picture above, Zoe was visiting Mia and me in the hospital. Mia was just thirty-six hours old. It was a dozen hours before she had her first seizures which meant she had to be sent alone with medical staff by ambulance from the hospital where she was born to a bigger one across the river, with a full NICU, and the ability to diagnose her stroke.

In the second picture above, taken last week, Mia and Zoe are goofing around, far too big to be in the bike trailer, but asking me to take them for a ride for fun. Zoe is seven. Mia is nearly five.

In both pictures, their sisterhood is so present. It’s ironic to me now to see Mia sucking her left thumb and Zoe studying her right thumb. This was before, before we knew that Mia would become a lefty for sure.

It’s a leap of faith to have a child, perhaps a blind leap of faith to have a second as a single mom. I leapt twice and somehow we have all made it, not just surviving nearly five years as a family of three, but really thriving even in the face of some daunting challenges.

Last year, I actively participated in Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month, blogging daily through the month of May. That effort has had many benefits, new contacts with families and professionals interested in pediatric stroke, sharing information broadly that seems to benefit others, and most personally, helping me affirm how far Mia has come with my support. It was cathartic and healing to be able to share more details of our journey. And, we raised significant funds for Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association.

This year, I considered repeating my blogging streak. I could easily have written updates on all the topics of a year ago, showing Mia as an even more competent kid, now almost five. But, I made an active choice not to blog. I am investing more this year in my own self-care. Blogging that intensively last year meant lost sleep. And, this spring, we are in a big transition. I wanted some space to feel my way through the changes.

To work full-time outside the home as a single parent requires tremendous logistical support. Zoe was in a family daycare in our neighborhood her first two-and-a-half years, but even before I was pregnant with my second child, I had visited the daycare/preschool where I would later send both girls. I loved it then and still do now. Some of the teachers have been there more than twenty years. They care for infants all the way through pre-K. Both girls started there when my maternity leave ended. Zoe was in the youngest preschool class and Mia was in the infant room. For three years, both girls went there full time. For the past two years, Mia has been in preschool there and on Monday she goes for kindergarten orientation at the bilingual school where she’ll join Zoe in the fall.

Mia has just three weeks left at this beloved school. Today, she hosted me as her special guest in her class brunch. I’ve been feeling nostalgic as the end of this era approaches. I’m putting some of that energy into making a special gift for the school and cards for the teachers.

Of course, my budget will be easier without having the expense of daycare. I look forward to seeing my bank balance when my mortgage payment exceeds my childcare expenses again. That has not been true since before I had my second child. I feel grateful to have been able to afford such excellent care, to have had the amazing continuity so that both children have had many of the same beloved teachers, and that we’ve been there long enough to feel like they are part of our family, certainly part of the village supporting me in raising these beautiful girls.

When I signed us up for two spots in this daycare, even before Mia had been born, I had no idea that she would have any special needs. And then she did, and I took a lot of time in the beginning to orient the caregivers to exactly how to handle Mia when picking her up, not to prop her in sitting but to let her lie down and find her own way there. As a toddler, she went to school wearing a splint on her unaffected left hand to give her time every day to practice with righty, modified constraint therapy. The teachers followed my suggestions for sensory play with my promise that whatever was good for Mia would be great for other children too. Mia played with shaving cream, sand, water, rice. And then, after eating snack with righty, the teachers could help her take off her splint so she could go outside to play and she could use both hands and arms to master the playground by climbing, swinging, traversing the monkey bars, and sliding.

Each year that Mia has transitioned, I have met with the new teachers to orient them to her needs. I have written up a one or two-page set of suggestions for how to best support Mia’s development. Remarkably, this year, both of Mia’s teachers have marveled at her curiosity, eagerness to participate, persistence and independence, and self-care skills that are on par or ahead of some of her peers. It’s through their eyes that I have come to see Mia as so ready to take the next step, to leap from the early childhood years into elementary school with her big sister leading the way.

And, it is nearly time for me to make that transition too, to escort Mia to kindergarten orientation, to believe that we made it, not just through the financial hurdle of getting care for two kids from birth to five while working full time, but through the developmental hurdles put in our path by Mia’s stroke.

Here are my girls in action recently, Mia on her 16″ bike, confidently making a turn, Zoe joyously swinging on the trapeze swing.

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I will close with gratitude for making it to this transition with the love and support of many. Here’s one of Mia’s recent pieces of art, where she so clearly affirms her left-handedness.

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Occupational Therapy – October 4

Mia has her weekly half-hour occupational therapy session on Friday mornings. Tighter school security means I can no longer observe. Fortunately, Mia’s therapist takes time to describe what they did together, sometimes using pictures as she did this past Friday. The sequences are so compelling that I want to share them.

Mia chooses where she wants to start and the therapist goes with Mia’s preferences while still keeping her goals in mind.

On Friday, Mia wanted to start in the gross motor area, throwing balls from inside the ball-pit Jump-o-lene into an inner tube with righty.

Here, Mia is carefully using her right hand to pick up a ball. Notice how she is concentrating.

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Really beautiful extension with her right arm as she throws a ball.

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Cleanup time. Mia spontaneously used both arms to help put all the balls back in the ball pit!

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Fine motor practice next. Mia was feeding the ball pennies. She initially tried to pick up the ball and squeeze it with her right hand but that was too challenging so she switched hands and held the ball with her stronger left hand while practicing pincer grasp with righty.

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Picking pennies up off the table with pincer is tricky so you can see in the final picture that Mia got creative using righty pointer to slide the penny to the edge of the table.

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Letter to Mia’s Teachers

Tomorrow morning at my office, I am staffing a table to spread the word about pediatric stroke and to raise money for Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association as part of my Streak for Mia. Many of my coworkers have already donated and with the company match, my fundraising total is up to $2910. It’s possible with tomorrow’s donations and match that I may make it to $4000 which would be fantastic. This post is one in a series through the month of May, only 3 more days left after today! Please follow the link above to donate, if you haven’t yet. If you have, thank you!

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As we returned home after the long weekend away, I am met with the seemingly unending task of managing our schedules and logistics. The school year is winding down, vacations and camps are scheduled. I think it’s a really good thing that I have a planning mind. I actually enjoy and am good at keeping track of many moving parts. Though, I often feel like I’d like the parts to stop moving and so I can get a break.

Mia’s preschool year ends next week. She’ll transition to the next class on June 10. To prepare, I asked the director of her preschool to set up a meeting with her teachers for next year so I can orient them to Mia’s medical history and developmental needs. I’ve done this with Mia’s teachers and caregivers every year. I explain that Mia had a stroke and how it has impacted her. I have a set of notes that I update each year and then review with the teachers so they can use it for reference. It’s time to update that. Here’s this year’s version of “How to Support Mia’s Development.”

How to Support Mia’s Development

Mia is a happy and curious little girl. She seems to be quite motivated to figure out how to do everything herself including gross motor and fine motor tasks. She loves to sit and read books to herself. She also is an avid climber outside. And, she loves doing puzzles.

Let Mia do as much as she can do herself, she will let you know if she needs help.

A rich sensory environment is helpful to Mia. Suggested activities: rice table, bean bin, bubbles in table, blowing and popping bubbles, play dough, slime, beading, cutting with scissors, all kinds of arts and crafts. Mia loves most sensory activities and will spontaneously use both hands.

Weight bearing on open palms is also really important for Mia, and easy to incorporate for all kids. Suggested activities: crawling through tunnels, animal walks (bear, dog, etc.), rolling over balls, wheelbarrows, climbing up and down climbing structures, side sitting with both feet to left while weight bearing on right open palm and playing with left hand.

Encourage Mia to use both hands, routinely. Bimanual (2-handed) activities are great, self-care is excellent. She can handle most of her clothing herself. She can use a soap dispenser to squirt soap into her own right hand, pushing with her left and supinating (turning hand palm up) with her right. She can do buckles, and other kinds of fasteners will be good practice for her. Bubbles (no spill container) and big balls are great two-handed options.
Also, do thumb and finger songs with both hands – “Where’s Thumbkin?”,  “high five” with both hands or “thumbs up” for good work.

It’s helpful to Mia to have activities that she can do on a vertical surface like a wall or easel (either table-top or standing easel). This helps her reach in a way that she will extend her right wrist and her fingers and her thumb will be more available for a proper grasp. Art, puzzles, felt board, magnets can all be set up on a vertical or inclined surface.

Mia may take more time to do things with righty, or to figure things out with righty. Please help support her by making her feel that she has enough time. Offer gentle encouragement, don’t jump in too quickly to help her.
Offer verbal prompts – “Remember to use righty.” “Point with righty.” “High 5 with both hands.”

Therapy: Mia receives occupational therapy at BLOCKS once a week. It’s usually on Fridays at 8 am so Mia arrives at school a little after 9 am those days as our au pair typically drives Zoe to school first then Mia.

Nutrition: Mia can drink water from an open cup. And, I will continue to send a water bottle and smoothie so she can drink frequently throughout the day. Mia is on a gluten-free diet to support better digestion and elimination. I will continue to send her snacks in addition to her lunch. I request that you not give her any of the standard snacks or classroom baked goods that contain grains. Please offer her water or her smoothie to drink but not milk. If snack includes fresh fruit or vegetables, she is welcome to have those. If you have any questions, please check with me before offering Mia something I did not send.

Thanks,

Mara

Constraint Induced Movement Therapy

This may be my longest post so far as part of my streak in the month of May to spread awareness about pediatric stroke. Please consider donating to support Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association, an organization that has helped our family tremendously with support and information.

When Mia was nearly 12 months old, her physical therapist suggested that a splint might help her right thumb abduct better. She tended to keep it tucked in next to her hand. With my Feldenkrais orientation, I was really opposed to any kind of stretching for Mia’s right hand, wrist, or arm. I didn’t want to splint her right arm. From what I knew, that would only cause her brain to work harder against the resistance of the splint. So began a research project that led me to Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association (CHASA) which helped me discover Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT), and make my own conclusions about what to try with Mia.

Here’s Mia on her first birthday, chewing on a watermelon rind that she’s holding with lefty. You can see that her right hand is in a fist and her right thumb is tucked in between her index finger and her middle finger. This was a common position for Mia at that age.

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When Mia was first diagnosed, I think I did find CHASA but I didn’t want to sign on to the support group there. I don’t know if it was because I was in shock, denial, or just didn’t want to fully identify with the group. I was doing everything I could to ensure Mia’s recovery. In any case, after a year, I was on a mission to avoid the recommended splint for righty, and needed to search the archives of posts of other families who were dealing with similar challenges, similar decisions. I found many discussions of splints for the affected hand and also for the unaffected hand in the context of CIMT. So what is it?

Constraint Induced Movement Therapy is an approach where you restrict the movement of the unaffected hand and arm, usually through casting or splinting it, so the person is given the opportunity to learn to use the affected hand and arm, of necessity. Intensive therapy is given at the same time so progressively more challenging tasks can be mastered over a period of days or weeks. Often, significant improvement can be seen over an intensive period of a few weeks. This work was pioneered by Edward Taub in controversial research with monkeys but later accepted for adult stroke patients and more recently adapted for kids.

I found all the articles I could on pediatric CIMT, took them with me on vacation, read The Brain That Changes Itself, and went to the pharmacy for self-adhesive ace bandages to use to fashion my own constraint for Mia who was just starting to walk but still crawling quite a lot. I wanted a constraint that limited her ability to use her left fingers but allowed her to crawl and pull to standing. I covered the bandage with a sock. Mia’s vacation was spent with her left hand and wrist in this constraint for all her waking hours except if we went swimming. She played on the beach like that, she ate like that, she seemed to adapt.

Here she is at 12 months old, working hard to get a blueberry into her mouth.

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I had some tough conversations with family members and strangers. Everyone wanted to know why I was taking away her “good hand.” Strangers wanted to express empathy that my baby had broken her arm. But, then if I replied that she’d had a stroke, they were in shock. I was learning too, dancing between sharing our truth, and just getting on with helping Mia. In that week, Mia gained some skill with her grasping and releasing. I brought out new toys and fun finger foods. Food is highly motivating so if she was successful in eating with righty, she’d keep at it.

Sometimes we took the wrap off because it was hot or annoying. Mia started to spontaneously open her hand a lot more to do things like grab a sand shovel while playing in water.

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Over the next few months, I got more professional resources to help support our experiments. We saw a physiatrist, that is a doctor of rehabilitative medicine. She connected us with an occupational therapist who specialized in CIMT at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Another parent on the Hemi-Kids mailing list referred me to a fabulous orthotist who made a hot pink neoprene splint for Mia to wear on lefty.

Here’s Mia playing with a magnetic monster with righty and sporting her new splint on lefty. She was 15 months old.

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Once we had that splint that was easy to put on and take off, we tried a new routine where the splint was just another thing that Mia had to put on each morning while getting dressed. She wore it from about 7 am until 10:30 am so she ate breakfast at home with righty and snack at daycare also with righty. I oriented her daycare teachers about good activities to do in the classroom – lots of sensory stuff like sand, rice, beans, water and shaving cream, puzzles, toys, balls.

Mia could point well with her right index finger by the age of 2 years.

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The splints that Mia has had all stopped below the elbow so she could always do bimanual things too. That helped cut down on frustration. Mia eventually outgrew the pink splint and by then she was old enough to request her own color – green! By the time she was 2.5, she had developed both the ability to point and a decent pincer grasp. She had also developed the ability to take off her splint and she started to protest wearing it every day. So we stopped.

By then, Mia could respond to verbal prompts to, “Give righty a turn.” Or, “Use both hands.” Or, “High five with righty!” Try asking most 2-year-olds to do something with righty or lefty and they won’t know what you’re talking about. Typically, handedness doesn’t develop until age 3.

Here’s a video of Mia working hard to do a puzzle, she’s practicing her pincer grasp and doing a nice palmar grasp and working on supinating too, that is to rotate her arm so her palm is up.

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This post is part of my streak of posts in the month of May to spread awareness about pediatric stroke. Please consider donating to support Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association, an organization that has helped our family with support and information.

When 8-month-old Mia started to crawl with her right hand fisted, it was unclear when she’d be able to open that hand consistently and at will, unclear that a month before turning 4-years-old, she’d be able to teach herself to swing like a monkey. But, here she is doing that. I think neuroplasticity can explain it, and all the supports that I have put in place for Mia to continue to learn.

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My own journey with neuroplasticity began more than 20 years ago when I first experienced the Feldenkrais Method® via an Awareness Through Movement® class in La Jolla, California. Moshe Feldenkrais was way ahead of his time, inventing a method to rehabilitate his knee based on his knowledge of physics, judo, and his observations of how babies naturally learn and develop. He soon found applications for all kinds of people of all ages who wanted to improve their functioning. I went to that same class every Thursday at 6 pm for six years all through graduate school and my postdoc. I went initially to help heal a shoulder injury suffered shot putting in high school and exacerbated by playing varsity ice hockey in college. I kept going because the lessons taught me something about myself, about going at a pace that was not my habit. I moved to Ann Arbor, had enough disposable income to seek private Functional Integration® lessons. After a year, I moved to Massachusetts where I still live and once again, I sought out new practitioners. After a few years, I still couldn’t get enough so I entered a professional training program in New York City for four years in the Feldenkrais Method.

It’s as if my apprenticeship in the Feldenkrais Method perfectly prepared me to parent Mia with acute mindfulness about her development and the power of neuroplasticity that modern science is now substantiating in concrete ways.

Through Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association, I am part of a mailing list for families of “Hemi-Kids” – that is children who have impaired use of one side of their bodies. This week, on the Hemi-Kids list, I read of Karen Pape, a neonatologist who has a very progressive approach towards treating children who had early neurological problems. She has a fascinating Ted talk on her site.

Pape’s ideas are completely aligned with those of Moshe Feldenkrais and with how I have been parenting Mia and advocating for her for nearly four years. Habits can get in the way of better functioning and the best way to shake up habits to retrain the brain is to introduce novelty in a challenging situation where some focus is required. In Pape’s Ted talk, she shows a little girl reaching above her head with both arms while standing. She has difficulty doing so fully with her left arm. But, when asked to do jumping jacks, the extension is much more complete and natural. When I saw that, I was immediately reminded of Mia’s monkey bar adventures from last Friday when I captured her extending her right arm beautifully to accomplish her own self-defined goal of mastering the monkey bars.

Zoe is 6 and Mia is nearly 4 and so Zoe has a lot more questions about Mia’s differences than Mia does at this point. In a recent conversation, Zoe stated, “Mia has had two things wrong with her body, her ears and her righty.” As a baby, Mia had recurrent ear infections, ear tubes, and recently a procedure to remove the one tube that didn’t fall out on its own. I reframed for Zoe and for Mia who was in the car too. I offered, “There’s nothing wrong with Mia’s right arm or hand. She had a stroke near birth and that injury in her brain means she needs to work a bit harder and smarter to learn to use righty.”

Pape asserts that baby brains recover better than adult brains in rats and monkeys and she thinks humans too, though not enough research has been done to fully validate the human conclusion. I believe it to be true too since young brains start out as a tabula rasa. Pape’s vision of continual improvement being possible is consistent with my view that the sky is the limit for Mia’s functioning and potential. One of my favorite Feldenkrais quotes goes something like this, “Make the impossible possible, the possible easy, and the easy elegant.”

Occupational Therapy – What’s it mean for infants, toddlers, and kids?

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Before I had Mia, I had no idea what occupational therapy might look like for a child. I had a concept that occupational therapists help people regain the skills of daily living. But, what does that mean if you’re too young to have acquired those skills in the first place?

It turns out, at least in our experience, that the pediatric occupational therapists still focus on tasks of daily living but in a developmentally appropriate way. And, instead of focusing on regaining those skills, they focus on helping the child acquire those skills.

Mia qualified for Early Intervention services when she was just one month old. Her diagnosis (stroke) meant that she was eligible until she turned 3 and aged out of the Early Intervention program. Early on, we worked with a developmental specialist and a physical therapist. But, as Mia’s gross motor skills emerged very much on track for age, the physical therapist started to increasingly do more occupational therapy things with Mia to focus on developing functional use of her right arm and hand. Through the Early Intervention program, we switched to weekly sessions with an occupational therapist who continued to help Mia work on her grasp and release and finger dexterity in the context of play, using toys that required one hand or two. Bimanual activities and toys are particularly motivating.

All the while, I was constantly vigilant to make sense of the therapy she was receiving in the context of my own Feldenkrais training and approach to learning which is rather different from conventional approaches. More on that later in a post focused on Feldenkrais.

The Early Intervention program in our area is wonderful. The therapists made house calls or met us at Mia’s daycare. They really got to know us and when we had to switch from one to another, they took great care with the transitions.

Mia also saw an outpatient occupational therapist who specialized in constraint therapy from when she was one until she was about two-and-a-half. We saw that therapist every few months for ideas related to constraint therapy, which is yet another post. The picture that leads this post is from our first experiments with constraint therapy. I wrapped Mia’s lefty all her waking hours that week of vacation and let her spontaneously discover more of her world with righty.

Last spring, we went through a formal “Turning Three” process of graduating from Early Intervention and so now Mia receives services through the public schools. Our town has a public preschool and while Mia doesn’t go there for school, she goes once a week for a 30 minute occupational therapy session. Since September, her regular time slot has been 8-8:30 am on Friday mornings. We all go together, Zoe, Mia, myself, and our au pair in two cars so I can go to work afterwards and the au pair can take the girls to their respective schools. Zoe and I get to have some 1-on-1 time while Mia is in her session.

Just yesterday, I spoke with the therapist about what she plans to recommend for Mia as her annual IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting is coming up in a couple weeks. Last year, I was very nervous about the first such meeting. Mia barely qualified for services because she’s so strong functionally. So, I thought the therapist might say that she would end services at the end of this school year. She honestly said she goes back and forth about what to recommend but she thinks that she plans to recommend continuing services at a half hour per week for the next year. She and I both see benefits. Mia likes going there most of the time. Once Mia enters Kindergarten, it’ll be a new set of decisions. Even if she’s deemed eligible, I’ll have to decide if it’s more worthwhile for her to stay in her classroom or be pulled out for therapy. I expect that as she gets older, sports and other activities of her choosing will take the place of these weekly OT sessions but for now, I’m glad to hear they’ll likely continue.

This post is part of my streak of posts in the month of May to spread awareness about pediatric stroke. Please consider donating to support Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association, an organization that has helped our family with support and information.

Monkey Mia

There is a place on the west coast of Australia called Monkey Mia. It’s famous for the dolphins that come ashore. I was there in about 1995 after a research cruise that ended in Perth. But, we never saw any dolphins.

“Monkey Mia” is a good nickname for my Mia now who seems utterly determined to master the monkey bars as soon as she can.

This evening, we went to the park. Zoe is a pro at the monkey bars, so fast that I couldn’t get any pictures of her on them. I was also trying to help spot Mia. Little did I know that Mia had moved on and no longer wanted my help.

Zoe is trying to master her next challenge with climbing trees  with branches that are kind of hard to reach.

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So, here’s Mia in a series of action shots. Her focus and motor planning are palpable. She makes the riskier big reach with lefty as she knows that’s safer for her and then she’s able to reach and extend her fingers to grasp with righty.

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Every occupational therapist who has worked with Mia has focused on helping her extend her right arm, hand, and wrist. This shot below is an incredibly clear view of how well she has to do that to succeed in her goal of mastering the monkey bars.

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And, here’s a video of Mia putting it all together on the monkey bars.

Earlier this week, Mia figured out how to get started on her bike on her own. She’s been riding it well for a few weeks but still needed a tiny push to get going. No longer. It’s almost as if each new motor skill she masters drives her to find the next challenge. In the last picture above, she’s reaching for the fifth bar. There are only two or three after that. And, she wants to go back to the park to practice so she can go all the way across. She did the monkey bars so many times this evening, dropping to the ground each time her arms gave out. She’d get up and say, “I need to try again.” I started to worry that her determination was so intense she might keep trying past the point of fatigue and injure herself. I gave my 5 minute warning and we biked home for bedtime snack.

This post is part of my streak of posts in the month of May to spread awareness about pediatric stroke. Please consider donating to support Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association, an organization that has helped our family with support and information.

Update on September 3, 2013

Here’s Mia yesterday at 4 years 2 months old (four months after her early forays shown above) showing me that she has been practicing and can go all the way across the monkey bars. Note how confident and nonchalant she is. She just knows she can do it and she does. You might also notice that she consistently reaches first with her left arm (unaffected) and then with her right arm (affected by stroke). She does this for every one of the seven bars, reaching first with lefty, then with righty. She happens to be wearing the same lucky butterfly shirt she wore in May when I first captured her learning to swing on the monkey bars in the still and video images above.

Preschool Brunch Tradition

Mia goes to a preschool (that Zoe also attended for the past 3 years) where they celebrate seasons but not holidays. One of the highlights of the year is when each preschool class hosts a brunch. Each child gets to invite one special guest. They go all out to prepare decorations and food and to welcome their special guests.

Here’s Mia this morning, all ready for starting her brunch day.

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I was honored to be Mia’s special guest.

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Just to include a little stroke-related observation, here’s Mia eating her yogurt parfait. Note how she is using the spoon with lefty and keeping the cup from tipping over with righty in her own style. It’s challenging for her to open her right hand wide enough to hold a cup of that size so she sort of braces her thumb and other fingers to keep it from tipping over. I read a really interesting essay today on Adaptation versus Innovation by a college student who is a stroke survivor.  It’s on the Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association blog. Last summer when Mia would eat ice cream from a cup, she would get her right hand really messy before she had refined this strategy she is using in the picture below. I suggested that she switch hands and use righty to hold the spoon while holding the cup with lefty. That was much tidier and she has enough control to use righty to scoop ice cream and eat it. But, recently when I suggested the same strategy, she had an emphatic, “No, mommy. I don’t want to do it that way.” After reading the essay on Adaptation versus Innovation, I’m more inclined to let her continue to figure out what works for her as she’s the expert on how it feels. And, so what if we have messy clothes for a few more months or years while she sorts it out.

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For historical reference, here are shots of Zoe from her brunches in May of 2010, 2011, and 2012.

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This post is part of my streak of posts in the month of May to spread awareness about pediatric stroke. If you’re able, please consider donating to support Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association.