One Year On: Gross Motor Skills Update

So much has happened since I re-started this blog. Today I will give an update on Asa’s physical development (gross motor skills) since last summer. October is Down’s syndrome awareness month so let me explain why Jon and I celebrate every seemingly small milestone Asa reaches. People with Down’s syndrome often have low muscle tone (hypotonia) and loose joints (hypermobility), particularly in babies and children, which makes gross motor skills like sitting, crawling, kneeling, standing and walking much harder for them to achieve.

In October 2013, I came across kinesio taping on a Down’s syndrome blog. I had not heard of this before. Here’s a definition: “The Kinesio Taping Method is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while allowing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion. It is used to successfully treat a variety of orthopaedic, neuromuscular, neurological and medical conditions.” (Taken from this site: http://www.kinesiotaping.com/about)

Kinesio taping is fairly common in America but no so much here in the UK. I located a practitioner in Cardiff who was able to tape Asa’s core muscles and show me how to do it at home. Unfortunately, taping infants is still very new to the UK and I could not find an NHS practitioner in our area.

Within a month of Asa being taped five days a week, in November 2013, Asa started being able to sit by himself. He couldn’t get himself in to the sitting position but after what felt like ages, he finally seemed to have the balance and coordination to remain in the sitting position. Happy days! Another developmental milestone ticked off!

 20131102_115215
Asa finally sitting with no support!

December (2013) rolled around and Asa started commando crawling! Initially only one little movement a couple of inches along. It soon developed in to a quicker move. His left arm used to get stuck under his tummy and he would get frustrated. He soon improved. Almost a year on from that and he is quite possibly the fastest commando crawler in all of the UK, maybe the world! Everyone who sees him comments, “Isn’t he fast?” It still makes me smile to see him on the move, even if that means the destruction of personal property! J He has yet to master the tradition ‘four point’ crawling but has done it a handful of times. We just think he prefers the commando style as he’s now perfected it! I don’t seem to have many photos of Asa’s famous commando crawl, probably because he’s like a whippet!!! :-)

As Asa gradually got stronger, a few months ago he learned how to get in to the sitting position by himself, and back down again. He has had a standing frame from the NHS physiotherapist which we are supposed to strap Asa in to for ten minutes each day as a minimum and build it up. In reality, this was impractical as some days we were out of the house all day, or Asa needed his nap, or I had to prepare meals and so on. Over the summer, time at home was limited in dry weather as we all preferred to be outside, making the most of the Great British summer!

 20140512_14410820140524_193526

20140524_185903
Asa needs supportive boots to help him stand and help his ankle stay straight. Asa’s hypotonia and hypermobility extends even to his feet! Most children with DS will need supportive shoes.

For a long time, there didn’t seem to be any major developments in Asa’s life. He seemed very content ‘beetling’ along as my mum would say. For many months, there was nothing new to report. No language development, no gross or fine motor skills. I was starting to get a bit disheartened and prayed a lot for him to reach a few more milestones. We decided to try Asa again with kinesio taping, this time to help his leg muscles. We also bought a physiotherapy roll for Asa to climb over as he took a liking to the kineso taping practitioner’s roll! 

20140618_170452

20140619_101131
Asa loved – and still loves! – climbing over this roll!
As you can see from the next photo, he soon worked out how to climb over it in the fastest time! Apologies for the blur but this is Asa in action…

20140619_101109In September this year, Asa started kneeling up – his physiotherapist calls it high kneeling. We have monthly physio sessions and kneeling had been something we have been working on for several months over the spring and summer this year, along with standing using his standing frame. I used to put him up against his now-too-small standing activity table in a high kneeling position, and sort-of wedge him between my thighs! (God gave me chunky thighs for this very reason!!!). This must have paid off as he started doing it by himself! Definitely a proud mummy moment (and daddy of course!). He soon realised that by kneeling he could reach things previously unobtainable to him – remote controls, TV speakers, magazines and books on the bookcases, tablecloth… I think you get the idea.

We are now in October 2014. Asa does not stop. He is on the go from morning till night, and quite possibly through the night! It is very fitting that it is Down’s syndrome awareness month and that I have re-started our blog because we have some big news – Asa is now able to stand! WOOOHOOOOO! He does it every day in his cot and he loves throwing his soft toys out of it. He has stood up a handful of times in the living room. Mostly he prefers high kneeling to get something he wants and if he still can’t get / reach something, he usually gives up!

Here are some photos of our increasingly strong little lad:

20140930_133214

20140930_13323720140930_133250

20140930_133306