Monday, January 20, 2014

2013-14 Second Half of School Year

Here he is holding his head up! He really enjoys clapping games

Once I discovered that Jayden is motivated by doing things he enjoys, I decided that musical instruments would be great for Christmas this year. Jayden loves music.

For the second half of this school year I hope that Jayden will learn to grasp better and with different positioning of the hands. We also would like to see him lift up his head more and reach up for things instead of always concentrating downward. (eyes, heads, hands) We got him some maracas which he will learn to shake to make sounds. A chime on a tree stand, a larger and heavier tambourine, a cabasa, a harp (lap sized),a set of cymbals (7", but they are real)  and a concertina (an accordion type toy).

Surprisingly one of the first instruments he learned were the cymbals! I watched as he learned on his own to pick them up. Because they are real, they are somewhat heavy. In addition, they have knobs on them instead of handles. So he has to pick them up completely different than he has ever picked anything up. He first learned to pick one up and bang it, but it took very little time for him to learn to pick the other one up with the other hand and bang them both at the same time.

He now picks them up and bangs them on the table and his head is not usually down.  This is also another activity he will do while sitting on the floor at the table.  I am hoping soon he will learn to bang them together.

In January Jayden's mom came for a visit and brought him some new toys. One of those toys he really enjoys the sound it makes when he uses a drum stick. This has motivated him to hold the toy with one hand and the drum stick in the other hand and will now hit the toy with the drum stick. This is something he has never done, despite all my efforts to get him to do it. I have tried drums, xylophones, triangle...He simply would not hold onto the drum stick. Now he will!

Later he discovered that he could hold his mouth against the toy while playing and he would feel the vibrations it created. As a result he holds his head up more.
Now that he will hold onto a drumstick, I hope that he will learn to bang it on other things as well. I am also hoping that he will learn to use the concertina better. He plays it a little but is not motivated enough to try and learn how to make it work.
Although he has learned a lot this year, we have to continue working on all of his new skills each week so that he does not regress.   At least once a week we spend time ripping paper, taking things out, taking things off, taking steps, sitting on his own, bouncing on the trampoline...


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

First Half School Year 2013-2014

This year we decided to Home School Jayden. The school informed us that they would not feed him except through his tube because they felt that he might aspirate. We felt like that would cause a regression in his feeding skills, so we decided that Home Schooling would serve him better.

In June we had attended a seminar at Region 4 Education Service Center in Houston. It was the Active Learning Conference. Active Learning is for students with Visual and Multiple Impairments, perfect for Jayden. This conference was presented by Patty Obzut from Penrickton Center for Blind Children. Active Learning was developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen. Although I had not planned at the time I attended this conference to home school Jayden, I was certainly glad that I had gone once the decision was made to keep him home.

Our workbook stated the following: "The philosophy of the approach of Active Learning is to give the child the opportunity to learn, and so step by step, achieve the pre-requisites that would enable him to learn at higher and higher levels. The approach of Active Learning developed over the past 25 year, primarily while working with children who were blind with additional disabilities such as mental impairment, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and hearing loss. While developing the approach it was discovered that infants and toddlers with vision impairment only would also benefit from having optimal opportunity to learn, rather than from being trained or taught. Although physical contact with the parents and other adults is important, it is considered even more important that the child with learning difficulties have opportunities to learn from his own activities, and to do so in all aspects....This learning occurs while the child is playing, rather than while he is handled by an adult, or while an adult is guiding his hands." The Philosophy of the Approach of Active Learning by Dr. Lilli Nielsen; March 2000

One of the first and most important things I learned was that you never want to attempt to develop a skill that is higher than the child's current emotional level. As explained in the workbook: "While implementing the approach of Active Learning it is necessary to know as much as possible about what the child is already able to do, and to know how infants and toddlers learn.  Activities that are too easy to perform, or materials that are so well know that they do not challenge the child, fail to facilitate the child's learning. Activities that are too difficult for the child to perform or materials that the child is unable to handle may result in the child refusing to by active or becoming autistic." The Philosophy of the Approach of Active Learning by Dr. Lilli Nielsen; March 2000

So to help us determine where Jayden was we ordered the Functions Skill Assessment titled Functional Scheme Levels 0-48 months, from Lillie Works. Their website address is  In addition we ordered Early Learning - Step by Step, The FIELA Curriculum - 730 Learning Environments, Space and Self and Are you Blind all written by Lilli Nielsen.

I went through the Functions Skill Assessment and determined that Jayden's skill/emotional level was at 7-9 months, which is where we decided to start his learning. It has been one of the best decisions for Jayden that we have ever made. He has learned more in the first half of this year than he ever learned in any one year.

He has learned to "take out" and to "take off". He is now sitting on the floor at a table without assistance and he will play there without support for up to 45 minutes.

In addition, he will now stand at a table with very little assistance up to 20 minutes.
He is also taking at least 24 consecutive steps in his gait trainer. And for the first time ever, he opened his own Christmas presents this year.
I started playing peek-a-boo with a hat I pulled down over his face, he quickly learned to pull the hat off. We then progressed to a stocking hat which took a little while for him to learn to pull off, but he got it! He enjoys playing that game and has progressed to pulling off socks as well.
I gave him paper, which at first he would crumple and crumple. Then he would put it in his mouth, but it did not take him long to start ripping the paper. He loves to rip all kinds of paper, but will get frustrated with thicker paper because it is harder to rip. However, this is why he was able to open presents this year.
There is a lot of equipment at Lilli Works that we would love to get for Jayden that would be extremely helpful for him, but we just can not afford it and no longer have the room.
One of the pieces of equipment we could afford from Lilli Works was the resonance board which a church member made for us. This is a 4X4 platform made with 1/4 " plywood and is trimmed around the underside with a 1" strip of trim. It helps the child to develop a sense of space by learning a little about the limited "room" which the resonance board represents. In addition, the sounds that are made by the child while on the board are felt by them on other parts of their body. Jayden really seems to enjoy the sounds he produces while playing on the board. And because to board bends a little from his weight, beads, marbles and balls roll back toward him.
We spend about a hour each day playing on the resonance board. Lately, marbles seem to be his favorite. He especially like hearing the marbles roll on the board and will purposely empty any container I place them in so he can hear them roll on the board. This was the beginning of him learning to take things out.
I discovered that Jayden enjoys marbles in a tin box. He will sit and play with those marbles for a long time. This serves as a motivator for him to sit on the floor, at a table, with no assistance. He will now sit up to 45 minutes playing with those marbles. We have also used it to motivate him to pull himself up from a seated position to the table to play with the marbles. He will stand at the table with little assistance up to 20 minutes.