Friday, August 31, 2012

Hero's Among Us: Vada's New Bike

 Today we were visited by Gordon and Connie Hankins, the couple that was featured in People magazine article above and who are known for their Therapy Oriented Tricycles (also known as the  TOT project, through

Gordon and Connie make tricycles, but not just any trikes, they customize these three wheelers to fit the child that the are making them for! In Vada's case and many others who have Down syndrome the person (Vada as well) has legs and arms that are shorter than typical, which makes riding bikes of any kind difficult until they are much older than their peers who may not have Down syndrome. Gordon and Connie realize this potential setback for children like Vada and with a "calling from God", as Connie put it and a passion in their hearts they began their journey in custom trike building. Now, over fourteen years since they built and gave their first trike, thousands of hours invested in labor and over 900 free donated trikes we got the honor of having ours hand delivered.

Not knowing Vada's true size the brought two trikes and red Small one and a pink medium one. Since the small trike was too big and needed more adjusting the pink one never made it out of the back of their vehicle. (That's okay though, I was hoping for a red one!)

I am so glad that The Hankins were here because V's legs weren't long enough to reach the pedals and then her feet are too short to stayed strapped in, so we needed to put two blocks on the pedals for a good adjustment. 

Vada loved trying her new trike out. She loved the cool breeze that blew through her hair and cooled her on this hot, hot day and was she was so interested in making it "work" on her own.I can tell that this is the beginning of lots and lots of fun for her!

These trikes have benefited all kinds of children with unique needs, some are Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome. If you are interested in getting your child one of these free custom made tricycles then go here and read through the information, then download the therapists recommendation paperwork and your on your way! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vadas IDA Assesment

First of all, let me tell you what an IDA Assessment is. IDA stands for, Infant-Toddler Development Assessment Tool and it is the guide that Vada's developmental Therapist uses to figure out the area's that Vada may need a little extra help in (There are many different forms of tests that can be used and if you ask your DT may use something completely different and that's okay.). Basically, its categories with a bunch of lists, with a bunch of can she do this, can she do that, kinds of questions. If she can then a tiny box gets checked and we move onto the next area. If the box remains unchecked.., you got it, that's were we need to help her  improve or learn. 

I thought sharing Vadas successes in her development may be interesting to some and to others who have gone through these kinds of assessments maybe you may have some advice for me on activities that your children really enjoyed and that helped them be more successful in areas were they needed that extra amount of help. 

Here's the thing though, If V isn't doing one important task, such as jumping she stays in that age range until she begins to do it. For Vada, she is doing many things from levels that are above where her skills place her at, in this type of assessment but she has to complete most things before she can be developmentally categorized in a different/higher age group.

Before I gone on I feel the need to express that to me, Vada is doing wonderfully, I couldn't be more proud of her. 

I actually asked Vada's therapist to do this assessment today. I like to know the areas that I really need to help Vada in. Plus, with her early intervention Preschool years coming up and the choice of homeschooling her for (at the very least) those years, I want to make sure that I give her the best all around. So in no way am I bothered or disappointed by these numbers or scores nor am I overly excited about them. I am proud of Vada as the little person that she is and I am excited to be able to watch her grow, learn and acquire new skills. This is just a baseline for me to know where I need to work for Vada. Does that make sense?

Today (8-29-12) Vada is five days short of being two and a half years old or in months, she is almost thirty months.

Vada's skills fall into the 18 to 24 months range.
Vada can stack blocks but she needs to improve those skills and should be able to stack five to six one inch blocks at a time.
For V to be in the 24 to 30 months range she needs to be able to hold a crayon with an "adult grasp", and stack a tower of nine blocks of more.

Vada's skills fall into the 15-1/2 to 18 months range.
If Vada could walk more consistently and independently as well as walk backwards then she would fall into the 18-24 month old range. Once into the 18-24 month range they want her to be able to independently walk up stairs, kick a ball, run well and jump off of the ground with both feet at the same time. 
Now, I know that one day Vada will do all of these things. I just know it but right now these are completely out of the picture. Knowing this makes me look at the age my older girls did these same things and I am amazed at the differences. The thing that I appreciate the most in this area is that V is constantly learning, improving and growing. She is constantly trying and there has been no real regression over the past year or so. There was a little at birth and with her stomach surgery and then during her seizures and again after her heart surgery but over all she has flourished. It makes me proud of her even if I know that these 18-24 month goals are far beyond Vada's abilities right now.

Relationships With Other People:
Vada's skills fall into 18 to 21 months range.
She needs to improve her skills at following simple directions. 

Self Help Skills:
Vada falls into the 15-1/2 to 18 months range.
She needs more practice at feeding herself with silverware. They want her to be using spoons and forks almost always and keeping herself fairly clean when doing so. Also, drinking from a open top cup without spilling it on herself. (We're going to start this tonight in the tub!)

Language and Communication Skills:
Vada falls into the 21-24 months range. 
She is not a pointer and is probably past this milestone but we need to work on pointing at objects, like if I were to ask her to point at the dog in book. Ideally, Vada should have been pointing for things that she may have wanted but between being a climber and learning sign language, she could either get what she wanted or do the sign for it.
To get into the 24-27 months range Vada needs to be able to use pronouns like "I want", "I need" or "Mine". She needs to be able to identify at least five objects in a row, follow directions (like, "go throw this in the garbage"), naming objects either with verbal words or by sign language.
This seems like an easier to obtain goal, right now, compared to the Gross Motor skills goals!

Vada's skills fall into the 21 to 24 months range.
She needs to continue to work on her relationships with inanimate objects, practice her symbolic play as well as pretend play. 
To be in the 24 to 30 months range Vada needs to tower blocks in groups of five or more. She also needs to be able to identify object out of groups, such as a group of five different objects and then being asked to point out or to get the shoes from that pile.

Emotions and Coping:
Vada's skills fall into the "normal" or "typical age range". 
To improve in this area Vada could practice playing parallel to one of her friends or work on handing a toy to share with one of her friends, also known as "Cooperative Play".

I always find it helpful when I see these kinds of assessments done on other children who are older than Vada, then I know things that I can work on with her. A good example of this is when I was going to hold someones hand. In this situation the person had issues with that kind of touch, which is fine but I thought to myself that I would hold V's hands as much as I could now, so that hopefully she would not have the same kind of issue herself. So far, she is fine with me holding her hands but not overly thrilled when others do the same! HA, take that for irony!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Play With Your Food: Puddin' Paint

 Kiliegh and Vada both "painted" the tub for over an hour tonight...

They painted each other as well!

Super easy and super fun and it only took about five minutes to clean up.