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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Part I: Bubs 1 Learns to Chew Gum

Bubs 2 ready to eat
Big appetite... not picky
Poor Bubs 2. There are so many more blog posts about his older brother, Bubs 1. Isn't the youngest supposed to get all the attention? I guess that depends on any one of the plentiful extrinsic forces beyond the little guy's control. In Bubs 2's case, he has an older brother who is revealing himself to all of us slowly, but surely. Bubs 2 may not be receiving the overwhelming attention that a baby typically gets, but he does share his time well with his older brother. A sure sign of patience is already growing inside Bubs 2 as his mom and I continue to learn how Bubs 1 ticks. If we're not working on reminding Bubs 1 about respecting his little brother's "bubble space," a.k.a. personal space, then we're likely continuously encouraging Bubs 1 to "use his words," when he becomes frustrated. Bubs 2 watches his older brother interact with the therapist once a week, while hanging from my Ergo baby carrier and he puts up with accidental bumping and crashing, compliments of Bubs 1.

Bubs 2 and 1 eating lunch this week
Bubs 2 is, many times, on the unfortunate end of Bubs 1's bubble-space violations. Many toddlers are learning how to keep their hands to themselves. Bubs 1 is one of them. His mom and I are learning more about how Bubs 1 seeks to satisfy his unmet sensory needs. This can put a twist on how we parent (verb) situations when Bubs 1 is invading the bubble space of friends, brother and parents. Sensory Processing Disorder, or Sensory Integration (SPD or SI, respectively) is a condition that typically accompanies many autism diagnosis. Bubs 1's mom and I take him to a private Occupational Therapist (OT) weekly and he also sees another OT at preschool. The latter is part of his IEP. The prior is so that we can have a second opinion on ways to improve Bubs 1's behavior in the classroom, and at home. What I found interesting is how an OT differs from a physical therapist. The occupational therapist teaches individuals how to operate within their daily activities while coping with any physical deficits.

Bubs 2 realizes he's being watched
I think this occupation not only needs to understand the various medical conditions out there, but an occupational therapist also needs to understand how an individual's work culture operates, in addition to understanding the nature of the work. I found this out today, while talking with Bubs 1's OT. They can help the individual "fit in" and function effectively and comfortably. When working with Bubs 1, I'm noticing that the OT, Aaron, is basically constructing a physical pedagogy so to optimize learning opportunities with Bubs 1. Further, Aaron works with Bubs 1 on ways that the bubs can identify and solve his own sensory deficits, while in the classroom.

Today, Aaron and I discussed Bubs 1's biting issue. Bubs 1 has a tendency to bite, when either happily excited and/or when anger induced frustration sets in. We've been discussing this issue for a couple of visits now and it seems that Bubs 1 is having difficulties carrying an object with him that he is allowed to bite on. We thought that this would kill two birds with one stone. 1) It can have him satisfy his sensory need while also, 2) appropriately channel his negative actions (biting). This will allow him an outlet to satisfy his sensory need(s) rather than suppressing them by simply telling him to "not bite his friends." Bubs 1 has been told more than enough times not to bite. There's obviously something else going on inside this kid.

Bubs 2 prepares for Bubs 1's offensive
Aaron then suggested gum. I thought this was brilliant. If Bubs 1 needs to bite, then why not have the item already in his mouth and ready to go. Perhaps the continual chewing will even reduce, if not extinguish, the sensory need? So Aaron spent the hour teaching Bubs 1 how to keep the gum in his mouth, and not swallow it. It was one of the most interesting classroom lessons that I've observed (and I've observed a good amount).

There's a lot to learn about Bubs 1. Here's what I think  I know so far. I think that his sensory needs need to be addressed daily. Whether it's chewing gum, a bear hug, holding him upside down so he can twist and sway, having jump on the mini trampeline or rolling the air-filled, giant exercise ball over him, which we call a "steamroller," there seem to be many ways to help him. These "medications" can take place at any time of day. It may need to happen at multiple times a day too. Depending on how well we can help him cope with his needs will ultimately determine the impact of this disorder when he's inside the classroom. Basically, the more physical therapy he gets, the more teachable he is.
Bubs 1 helping his little bro

In the interest of keeping my readers fresh and preserving my blog posts from becoming to-bogged-down with words... I'm going to pick up this post on another day. Look for Part II: Bubs 1 Learns to Chew Gum. I'll discuss the content being delivered within the framework of the pedagogy described here.

However, before I close. I want to extend an apology to Bubs 2. He has, once again, endured the discussion/blog moving away from him and towards his brother. This was to be his blog, but it somehow took another turn. This is how I write. I hope he understands. I'm sure that he'll let me know if he doesn't... in... about... 15 to 20 years or so.

I can wait.

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