Friday, August 23, 2013

Signing Cues and Speech Therapy for Toddlers

Every week Stella, aged 3½, has a session with her speech therapist helping her to improve her speech.  Yesterday I was invited to sit in with them to see what exactly it is she does every week in order to know what exercises we can do at home to help her.  I was so impressed with what I have seen... amazed actually.  I have noticed at home on a couple of occasions that Stella does something with her hands when saying certain words.  We didn't know why she was doing it.  Yesterday I saw that she is actually learning 'signing cues' in her speech therapy class.  For example if she says a word and leaves out certain letters i.e. she might leave out the 's' in the word 'school', there is a certain sign the speech therapist shows her to let her know that she left the 's' out and Stella will repeat the word, saying it perfectly.  I am so proud of how far she had come in a month's time.

I have googled speech therapy and signing to find out a little more about it and came across this link:  http://special-ism.com/interested-in-american-sign-language-for-communication/#sthash.WFrPJpuM.UOVD50da.dpbs

I will definitely try and read more about it.  It is so interesting and amazing how much it helps little Stella to say words correctly.

Stella has to do exercises improving her muscles in her face in order to help her form her words better as it is underdeveloped.  It is simple exercises, but she enjoys it.  After the session yesterday I bought her a couple of items needed to be able to do these at home as well.  Can't wait to start!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Things Threenagers Say

Two afternoons ago I picked Stella up from school.  What our conversation was about I don't remember.  After a few moments of silence in the car Stella says "That's great!".  What exactly she was referring to I am not sure.  I got the impression she just suddenly thought of something she heard that day and decided to say it out loud.  The other thing she came up with happened yesterday morning on our way to school.  She usually pretends that dinosaurs are chasing us and when I played along and suggested that there was another dinosaur in the street she simply said "that's just sssstupid!".  Last night she finished Nika's last little bit of milk.  Nika took the bottle back and played with it and Stella, not impressed with the idea that Nika took it said to her sister "Nika, thats not funny!".  It might sound like just normal things 3-year-olds say, but to us it is quite a big thing every time she says a new sentence after her operation in July.  The fact that she is now learning new words and sentences shows that the operation did in fact improve her hearing and she is making good progress in learning to talk properly.  Less than 2 months ago it was very difficult to understand much of what she was saying and she has made real good progress to a point where our friends are also commenting on how they can now actually have a conversation with her and understand what she is saying to them.  It is truly amazing to see.

Nika is teething again and every late afternoon when she gets home from school her cheeks are red as if it is a hot summer's day and it is winter still.  We are lucky that her temperature did not go above 40 degrees again like with the previous tooth, but she is still quite warm and grumpy.  I'm hoping that the molar would cut through soon so she can feel better again.  There are so many products on the market for teething, but when Stella was small we were told by the clinic nurse that not all products for teething actually soothes the pain.  Some products only helps with the effects teething might have on their tummies for example.  I realized soon enough that when purchasing something to help ease the pain for her, it is best to check with the pharmacist whether the product indeed helps with that.

We had dinner with a good friend on Monday evening whom we only see once a month.  She commented on the little character Nika has become.  Even though she and her sister do look alike in some ways, they each have their own personalities and they are complete opposites.  Stella is a very outgoing and happy child, happy to talk to anyone willing to listen where Nika is shy around strangers, but also very friendly like her sister.  She will make sure you know about it if she is not happy.  When she feels comfortable around people and becomes playful she loves pulling funny faces and then laughs at herself.

I'm so amazed at the best of times to see these two beautiful children grow and develop new skills and become their own persons.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tantrums from a threenager

Stella is the queen of tantrums, I'm sure.  I have never seen another child having a tantrum quite like her.  As mentioned in my previous post, we do have a discipline issue, so every time we do have to discipline her i.e. send her to her room, not allow her to watch a movie, etc. because she is being naughty, a gigantic tantrum will follow.

I've tried telling her why she is being punished by for example being sent to her room, but she screams so loud that she couldn't possibly hear me talking.  Sometimes it is the slightest thing that triggers a tantrum.  The other night she woke up at 12 o'clock and mumbled something.  I couldn't hear what she was saying and thought she was half asleep still.  I told her to go back to sleep and she got so upset, rolled over to her tummy and had a proper tantrum.  Turned out that all she wanted was water to drink.  You would thought they would just say so!

I know some people believe that one year old's are too young to have tantrums, but Nika surely does something that resembles a proper temper tantrum.  When I pick her up from school and I don't take her into my arms immediately or if I have to put her down to check something in her bag, she throws herself on her face on the floor and just lies there and cry until I convince her to get up and come to me.  Also, when her teacher gives attention to another child or picks another child up at a time that Nika thought it was her turn for attention, she does the same.  I'm amazed sometimes that she doesn't get hurt when she falls on the floor like that.  She probably had a lot of practise at school already and knows exactly how to land on her tummy without hurting herself.  It gives me a fright every time I see it though.

Neither Nika nor Stella becomes aggressive and punch or bite, etc. when having tantrums and for that I'm very grateful.  I had a look online to see if I could find some good advise on how to deal with it and came across this article:  http://children.webmd.com/tc/temper-tantrums-topic-overview

To be honest, I'm not sure whether time-out works with Stella and Nika is still too small to get time-out, but it might be worth a try with Stella again.  I have read before that you should give time out according to their age, i.e. if they are 2 years old = 2 minutes time out; 3 years old = 3 minutes time out.

The thing is with Stella that she will scream louder and louder while having time out and she only calms down once the 3 minutes are up.  Maybe we should try a naughty chair somewhere else in the house and not in her room.  I know that her room should be a safe place for her and not somewhere where she gets sent to for time out, but our space is very limited so we don't have that many options available.  A naughty chair in the corner of the lounge might be the answer.

I guess the answer is to just try different options until you find what works for you and your child.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Improved Hearing and Toddling Along

We had a busy long weekend, visiting with different friends.  On Sunday we made a fire to make a green bean and lamb pot.  My friend and I quickly popped out to the shop while the little ones stayed with daddy and our friend's husband.  While we were away a piece of wood fell from the barbecue and before anyone could stop her, Stella picked it up to put it back into the fire.  She burnt her hand with the hot piece of wood and now has three blisters to show for it.  One blister is nearly the size of her thumb.  It was very sore on Sunday, but by yesterday her hand was feeling much better again.  She still doesn't want to use it, but at least it is not throbbing anymore.

After months of realizing that Stella doesn't talk as fluently as her classmates and two months ago getting the impression that she might be getting teased as school, we called in the help of a speech therapist to do an analysis on her.  To make a long story short, after being referred to ENT and the paediatrician, we realized that she had enlarged tonsils and adenoids which were infected and had to be removed.  There was a build-up of fluid behind her ear drums because of it which caused hearing loss.  So they also inserted grommets to drain the fluid from her ears.  Ever since the operation her hearing has improved, but seeing that for who-knows-how-long, she couldn't hear properly she taught herself to ignore people talking as she could not control the volume as she could do with a Television for example.  So now we have a discipline problem as she doesn't listen even though she can hear.  Some days are better than others though.  It is amazing how one day she can be as good as gold and the next day you cannot get anything out of her.

I feel so guilty for not realizing sooner that she might have a hearing problem, but the possibility never even crossed our minds.  We also had to change our home language to English as she got confused with our actual home language and English and spoke it as one language, using more English words.  Most of her/our friends are English and most of the kids in the school she goes to are English.  So she basically decided for herself that English is her language and for her sake we had to make the change.  Within the first two days of switching over to English the change in her vocabulary was astonishing.  It was a hard decision to make, but we are glad that we did, because it definitely benefited her.

For the first time since the 1st of April, Nika has been well, not having flue or tonsillitis, etc. for longer than a week.  She must have been to the GP at least eight times since April.  It is such a relief that she is feeling better.  Maybe because we had a warm week last week and Spring is approaching.

Nika had her 12months vaccination this month (about 2/3 weeks after turning 1), and weighs 12.25kg (27lb).  She weighed nearly 4.2kg (9.25lb) at birth so is a big baby.  I was so surprised that she didn't even cry when she was given her vaccination.  Babies are so brave.  She started walking at 11 months and is running around like a pro!  Almost every Mom hopes that her child's first word would be "Mama", but thanks to Stella constantly pretending that she is a puppy and 'barking' at us, Nika's first word was "Woof"!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Becoming Mom

After 8 years of marriage and having a miscarriage two years before, we finally held our beautiful baby girl in our arms in the beginning of 2010.  What an amazing feeling it was and still is to hold her and look into those beautiful innocent eyes and face.  For the best part of the past 3½ years she has been a very healthy and happy child and still is.  We hardly ever knew when she was teething as there were no signs really, next thing we knew she had one or two or at one stage 4 more teeth coming out at once.  My Mom and Granny came to stay for two months to take care of her when I needed to go back to work after my maternity leave.  She started going to nursery at 4 months old and absolutely loves school.  She loves being around people and is not a shy child.  I'm sure she got that from her father because when I was a child I couldn't even say a word if there was a stranger in the room.  I didn't make friends easily and our daughter is the total opposite.

In the Winter of 2012 our second daughter was born.  She is a bit more shy than her older sister and I was terrified about sending her to nursery school.  For the 1st two months of her life she would not go to anyone else and only wanted to be in my arms.  She struggled with bad colic and was treated for it.  It improved after two months old.  She also started sleeping through the night then.  Our first daughter still doesn't sleep through every night.  My Mom and Granny came to stay with us again to help out and went back home when she was 7 months old and she started nursery school then.  I was so stressed out by the idea that she had to go to school that I could hardly sleep.  I couldn't focus on anything, being worried sick if she would be crying all day.  So the 1st day of school finally arrived and I phoned halfway through the day to find out how things were going with her.  Apparently she was a bit moody in the morning, but after having a nap she was absolutely fine, loved her teacher from the word go and never had a problem going to school after that!  What a relieve.

Ok,  lets go back a few months... before our 2nd daughter, Nika, was born, I was so worried about how our eldest daughter, Stella, would react to her, not being the center of attention all the time anymore.  When Nika finally arrived, Stella was a bit clingy in the first few weeks after we got home.  The week I spend in hospital with Nika after giving birth was the first time I had been away from Stella for so long and I, as usual, was worried sick about her and how she was coping not having me around.  She was still on nappies at the time and by the time I got home, she was basically off the nappies.  I, until this day, still don't know how my dear husband managed to get her to potty train so fast!  She was definitely showing signs of wanting to potty train and at school they really have done their part, but I didn't expect it to happen so fast.  I remember still thinking about the financial side of things with both of them still on nappies.  So that was sorted!

So after the few weeks of being very clingy and wanting to get onto my lap every time I consider sitting down, things started going back to normal slowly, but surely.  I can still remember the first time Stella and Nika really connected.  Nika was on my lap and Stella came over to us and she looked into Nika's eyes and Nika returned a favor by giving Stella the most-beautiful, gummy smile that I have ever seen her give anyone.  Stella was completely taken by surprise and burst out laughing and I could see in her face how much that smile had meant to her.  They love each other, yet don't play together too often yet.   I'm not worried as Stella obviously sees her sister as a baby still, and probably thinks she is too big to play with babies.  Nika just turned 1 and I am sure they will be playing along fine soon enough.