Monday, September 3, 2007

Heavy work

I have been faithfully following the every two hour heavy work assignment. It has had it's benefits. The last few days he has actually laid down and has taken a nap. They have been getting progressively shorter in length, but I chalk this up to his endurance building.

Wanting as many activities as possible available for heavy work, I went out and bought 2 medicine balls. He has often picked up my brother in law's bowling balls, so I figured he would play with these and they would be much easier on the foot or toes they landed on.

Well that was my mistake. He found out the straps do not come off, he has deemed them defective.

On the same trip out I bought him a little bicycle and helmet. I realize this exercise would not be the heavy work he needed as his upper body would not be involved, but it prompts him to say three syllable words. "Bicycle!" If I say "Bike" he corrects me "Bicycle!" and I figured he still needs other forms of exercise too.

When I call spouse to tell him about my purchases he informs me that Connor will not be able to ride it immediately because it requires abstract thought. We'll just show him how' I think to myself. I am convinced that I will put him on this bicycle, show him how to put his feet on the peddles and he will just get it, right?

I put him on the it and his feet in place. He sits expectantly and then thrust his body forward waiting for the ride to start. I get on my knees and place my hands over his feet and from behind I peddle his feet for him (I may need to borrow his knee pads). After a bit I get up look at him and say "Now you try."

He moves his feet off the peddles and slants his body just enough to put his big toe on the floor and pushes. OK, this will take more time to learn than I thought.

With his heavy work has come some temper flaring, throwing/swinging of toys, and the need for more deep pressure. I can only assume this is because his endurance is being pushed. The temper and throwing or swinging toys are always when the toy does not "behave properly".

My younger teen sitting in the living room and minding her own business caught a toy telephone in the nose, when he could not get it to do what he wanted. What did he want it to do? I have no idea.

Spouse brought home a John Deere tracker with farm animals, that make animal noises and sings "Old McDonald". Straight out of the box he tried to disconnect the carts carrying the animals. He brought it to me to see if I could get them off. They are just not made to come apart. He throws the animals and the farmer across the room and the tractor soon flies at my head. I collect the tractor and animals to be put away until he can behave. He seeks more ammo, and soon I have two trucks that I narrowly dodge to add to confiscated items.

The needs for deep pressure have changed a bit as he needs more and more lately and I do the best I can with the vest, messages, and joint compressions, but there are just some things a Mom cannot do. Even in his sleep I will see him lie on his tummy, flat as a board,ball his fist up underneath his lower body and all the muscles in his legs and buttocks tighten. When he does this in his awake hours I distract his attention elsewhere.

The OT office is of course closed today for the holiday, so I will have to wait for her to show up late for her appointment next Monday. She has some explaining to do, and the next time she tells a parent to do heavy work with their kids she needs to let them know that it is indeed, hard work.


mcewen said...

Well that's why it's called labour day!

Yes, you're right, it's better than any workout because you have to do it all day. Who needs an expensive gym membership!

Unfortunately I also think you're right about endurance / habituation - the more you do with them, the stronger they get = the more they need. [you didn't really want confirmation of that did you?]
Best wishes

Beagoodmom said...

My son is 4 1/2, also has autism. He learned to ride a bike (with training wheels) this summer. He never did well on a tricycle, but there was something about the two-wheeler that made it easier. We think it was the angle of his legs. We also used to follow behind him chanting "up,down,up,down" to remind him to push consistently with his feet. He does really great now. The hardest part for him was learning to do more than one thing at once. At first, he could not pedal and steer and the same time. Then he could not pedal and look forward at the same time. Once it clicked, he did fine. But we did practice alot.

Beagoodmom said...

Oh, another thing you might try: We had a Radio Flyer tricycle that had a handle coming out the back of the seat. It allows the parents to push the tricycle a bit, when the going gets too rough. I liked the theory behind it, but due to my kids' heights, they never did well on any kind of tricycle. The were always hunched up, at a bad angle for pedaling. But it might work for you.