On this page I am trying to put together everything that helped us with Cati’s therapy.
Our choice for Cati was agressive therapy, but minimum invasive intervention. For instance, we do 3-4 hours of therapy daily, but yet didn’t remove Cati’s extra pinkies. We shall have (God willing) surgery for tubes in her ears and to correct her velar cleft pallate, and remove the extra digits this summer, but we chose to treat her trigonocephaly with craniosacral therapy instead of surgery, we chose a homeopathic treatment for seizures instead of Depakote.
There will be links to articles in Romanian, but the pictures in the article are self explanatory. There will be also links to other sites that explain better what Cati’s exercises look like. There will be less videos of Cati, for her own protection, since this page is open to anyone.
Cati’s Therapy Program
Cati started the NACD program in June, 2012. She was 13 months old and was like a 4-5 month old baby, both in her cognitive and motor development. You can read more about our first program here (and please use the thanslation button for English). Our program was 4 hours of exercises, that we would do 5-6 days a week. Sometimes we managed to do merely 50% of the program, sometimes 75%, rarely 100%. When Cati was sick we stopped our program altogether.
Cati’s NACD program is individualized, made especially for her, and I am not sharing her exact program, as it may not suit everybody and we are not allowed to. We are deeply grateful for having this opportunity to be in NACD, it is the best move we have done for Cati’s development.
I am going to present Cati’s evolution in different areas of development, and hopefully it will be an inspiration for you, too.
Gross motor skills
Cati had severe hipotonia at birth. We started PT when she was 3 months old (first 2 sessions/week, later 4 sessions/week- each session is about 40 minutes). Her PT told us to have lots of tummy time with Cati, and to stimulate her to lift her head. I wish now we had listened to her more. Although I tried to work with Cati at home, I realize now there could have been done more things to help with her low muscle tone.
One book that I recommend for parents of special needs kids and typical children as well, is Smart Start, by Margaret Sasse- lots of great ideas if you do not know where to start therapy at home.
By one year of age, Cati could roll from tummy to back and back to tummy, and that was all. She didn’t have much head control, she couldn’t sit or bear weight on her legs or crawl.
Our next step was to aim for was crawling. We did exercises of crawling with leg assistance. In the beginning, I would move her right leg, then her left arm, her left leg, then her right arm. After a couple of months she started pushing herself a little bit. Then she started to go down the slide by herself. After 7 months she could crawl by herself on the floor.
What we used:
- crawling with leg assistance on the floor (we use a linoleum crawling track).
- crawling up and down the slide- you can read more about how to make such a slide here and here and here.
Fine motor skills
At the very beginning, Cati could only grasp a rattle for a few seconds. After one year of therapy, she can remove the pieces out of a wooden puzzle- see video– and use her pincer grip.
What we used:
- tactile sequence , here you have a video.
- we would give Cati a rounded object, the shape of a screwdriver’s handle, and would help her grasp it and release it by pushing on her hand.
- lots of cortical opposition games- most of them homemade; a few examples: pressing playdough balls, picking feathers, pulling different textures, putting small balls and marbles in a container, squishy toys, wooden puzzles, gliding magnets.
When we started the program Cati was like a 4 month old baby from this point of view- she would cry and smile and laugh, but she showed no sign of understanding, and she didn’t coo.
At 15 months old, she shocked everybody by responding to a command. I jokingly told her to grab Dad’s nose, and she did! Since then, she proved to all of us that she understood almost everything we say. At 23 months old she uttered her first „ma-ma” and at 25 months old she started babbling a lot (using the same „ma-ma”).
What we used:
- Flashcards (no writing, just pictures)
- Teaching her commands like: put your hands on your head, clap your hands, look at the red chair, sooo big! (hands up), stick your tongue out, hold my hands, wave bye, et c.
- Oral therapy
- coconut oil
- craniosacral therapy (after 3 sessions she started babbling a lot)
- lots of encouragement- I moved her lips and chin and say „mama” till she learned how to coordinate sound and movement)
- tracking exercises (you can use a small flashlight, a toy with a little light and sounds, a small ball that lights up).
- videos on small screen (cellphone, iPad, laptop, small TV), that help the child focus and use central vision.
- we have more exercises, but Cati’s vision is very poor, so I am not sure they would be recommended to all children.
I also recommend this article.