Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ollie goes to college

Ollie went to college this summer! He was the youngest participant in a 6 week long Speech Clinic at Ithaca College. They had room for him to go twice a week, and we jumped at the chance to help Ollie work with his new communication device, a DynaVox. So every Monday and Wednesday for a month and a half we drove up to South Hill, and Ollie got to play one-on-one with the speech therapist Tina and her grad student Katrina. How lucky was Ollie to get speech therapists with names that rhyme? He loved that! At the speech clinic at Ithaca College

Ollie enjoyed going to "college" and had a lot of fun with the activities they prepared for him each week. It was a very positive experience for him. He blew them away with his intelligence and his ability to read. He is held back only by his incredibly limited motor skills which make it too difficult to use the device yet with any accuracy. But we'll keep working on it.

If we can find the time we'll try do do a post on Ollie's communication, and our acquisition of this DynaVox V5 device. Our venture into the world of AAC is just beginning, and all I can say is that I hope the technology hurries up and improves. We're not particularly thrilled with our options for Oliver right now. That said, the DynaVox is a start and a big help in giving him a voice.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stewart Park

Attack of the mutant killer geese! Our days are usually crammed with therapy. Ollie has occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy three times a week each, and Special Instruction twice a week. It is extremely rare for Ollie to have a weekday morning without a therapy session or appointment of some sort. So when such a day occurs, and especially when it coincides with beautiful weather, it is nice to be able to take advantage of it. On this particular day we decided to go to Stewart Park to explore and feed the ducks. Well, instead of ducks we found lots of Canada geese, and they were not shy! It was a little scary really, and I actually got nipped on my hand protecting Oliver's yummy fingers and toes from hungry goslings. Next time we'll try to avoid the geese and look a little harder for the ducks!

Stewart Park Stewart park is a beautiful park on the southern tip of Cayuga Lake. I have a lot of fond memories of it from my previous life: swing dances in the pavilion, long runs with my Wednesday evening running group, picnics with friends, and lazy days at the annual Ithaca Festival. Those days are long gone, and the park looks different to me now. It looks more challenging.

The park was buzzing with kids Oliver's age running, laughing, and playing while their moms socialized and picnicked. I did my best to stay on task and concentrate on making it a fun outing for Oliver. I wanted to enable him to experience an assortment of activities at the park to the best of our abilities. He was skeptical about much of it, especially going down the slide and getting wet in the sprinklers. Of course there was nothing that was handicap accessible! Not even a single swing. So I held him on my lap and he enjoyed swinging that way for a while. Later on he indicated he wanted to go on the toddler swings that he saw the other children on. These had no back or head support, so I had to hold him steady which didn't make for good swinging action (and nearly threw my back out), but at least he got to do it. He also rode a little pony merry-go-round, and even the T-Rex. These were hard for him because he is unable to use his arms to hold on, and his legs cannot open that wide. He also thrusts backwards, which makes holding him steady even more difficult. But we did our best. Hopefully one day we can be there while the Carousel is running. I wonder if Ollie would find a real merry-go-round fun or frightening.
Stewart Park collage
While we didn't have the relaxed carefree morning at Stewart park that the others were enjoying, we had a good time in our own way. And we made it home in time for Ollie's nap so he'd be rested and ready to go for his afternoon therapy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Looking at tadpoles with Oliver Ollie loves long silly words. They make him giggle. There is a Sesame Street episode where the word of the day is "metamorphosis" and for a while it was his favorite one to watch (Elmo and Abby participate in a game show called "Find That Amphibian" hosted by Anne Phibian!) He thought the word "Metamorphosis" was hilarious, and it helped him learn about the transformation of caterpillars to butterflies, and tadpoles to frogs. One day his nurse Jo asked if she could bring us some tadpoles from her pond, and I said "sure!" The next day she arrived with 4 tiny black tadpoles, with their hind legs just barely showing. I went out and bought a little plastic aquarium, and searched the internet to read up on their delicate care.

Within a week, one of the tadpoles sprouted front legs, and then crawled out of the water, eventually absorbing its entire tail. It was truly incredible to watch it transform so quickly. Unfortunately the remaining four didn't last very long - two died as tadpoles, and one died as a froglet, but the first little guy has flourished and is still with us, hopping around and feasting on fruit flies in his little aquarium. I believe he turned out to be a toad, and not a frog, because he spends very little time in the water, but really I have no idea. He sure is cute though, if you go for that type!