Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The gym doctors

That's what kiddo calls his occupational therapists. (His behavioral therapist is known as "the talking doctor," or "the doctor with the play room and the three cars"). I can understand it, considering the facility is about the coolest looking kiddie gym I've ever seen -- and I've been to a few kiddie birthday parties at this point so that's saying something. There's a rope swing hanging from the ceiling. There are giant pillow-type things you can climb on. There's a mini ball pit. There's a separate room with a rope ladder leading to a series of room-length hammocks that you are meant to climb into and out of. There's a fabric swing also hanging from the ceiling that looks a little like a giant kangaroo pouch, and when kiddo nestles in it, only his face peers out. All the floors are padded, and shoes are not allowed.

He goes twice a week now. They're working on strengthening his core, and teaching him to breathe properly, and helping him with fine motor skills. He loves it. Hell, I'd love it. I keep wondering whether I can get some occupational therapy too. By which I mean the rope swing.

Here's the routine: We hang out in the waiting room for 40 minutes or so while he does his thing with his therapist (he has a different one for each day; they're both quite nice), then for the last 10 minutes or so, the therapist brings us in to discuss his progress and also so any younger siblings can play on the equipment too. Which is why when I ran in at the end of the last session, having come from work, I found kiddette and kiddo both clambering through the giant hammocks, giggling madly.

Generally the parents don't talk to each other in the waiting room. I'm not sure if this is customary. Do people not want to discuss with anyone what their kid has? Or would they just rather check email than chitchat? I bring a book. Sometimes another parent and I will smile at each other if our kids are socializing post-session.

By which I mean, if my kid is being his normal self. It's both adorable and a little exasperating that he thinks every single other person on the planet should be his friend. The last time I brought him to the playground, he kept sidling up to the teenagers shooting hoops so he could tell them all about his jump rope skills. The teens were pretty good-humored about it, but still. I tried explaining to him that those kids were way too old for him, and then he would manage to jump-rope their way again.

So whenever we go to therapy, if we happen to be riding up in the elevator with another family, he will promptly adopt that family and tell them all about what the elevator does and who he is and what he's doing there and he'll run down the hall with the other kid and explain to the kid how to open the door to the facility and then they'll run around the waiting room together and etc.

I swear, he's either going to be a politician or an actor. Or maybe a tour guide.

His therapists -- sorry, gym doctors -- have suggested some simple things we can do with him at home, like blowing bubbles or drinking a smoothie through a straw, to help him with his breath. Turns out he loves yogurt smoothies. They also suggested letting him use a straw to blow bubbles during bathtime. That was quite a hit.

They've noted that he likes to burrow under things, or wrap himself in things, and say that helps him ground himself and we should encourage it. So if he's sitting on the couch, we surround him with couch cushions and put a blanket over the whole thing. He seems to like that.

Also, exercise is good (obviously). So most mornings, we do push-ups, then a few yoga poses. He likes Warrior One. I want extra credit for doing all these things while already dressed in my work outfits, which are not push-up friendly.

The gym doctors keep saying he's doing great and that this will help him improve his behaviors. We'll see, I guess. At least he's enjoying himself.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Needing a vacation from the vacation

I mean, I suppose we should've seen it coming. Kiddo goes wonky when off routine. But you get in vacation mode and you start to check out mentally and in between the packing up clothes and the did I remember sunscreen? and the oh shoot is the toaster unplugged? and making sure you have directions and all that, remembering your child has ADHD and will not be in vacation mode doesn't necessarily top the list. Apparently.

We were at one of those adorable old-fashioned family resorts where everyone eats in the big dining room and there are games and a lake to play on and the staff puts on a show at night. Think the resort in "Dirty Dancing," except, you know, no dirty dancing. Though there was a Mardi Gras parade through the dining room featuring Spider-Man. DH's family used to vacation there every year, and we were back for Grandma's birthday (and the staff remembered them. Impressive).

But there was too much going on, I guess, or too much to look at, or maybe everything smelled too different, who knows. All of kiddo's "behaviors" ramped up to the nth degree.

First, kiddo figured out how to open the cabin room door. And ran out. Repeatedly. Kiddette frequently followed, because she thinks everything her big brother does is cool, especially when it's not. One or three of us would have to sprint after them and catch them. Preschoolers: Faster than you think.

Then, mealtimes. At every single meal, kiddo would push off from the table and run. At random. For no good reason. One time he got all the way out of the main building, into the parking lot and in front of a (parked) shuttle bus. Needless to say, this freaked us out a bit.

Also, bladder control. He had three accidents in two days, twice because he just wasn't noticing that he had to go. The final time wasn't entirely his fault -- he did ask to go potty after dinner, and I hustled him down the hall to the restroom. Which, for the first time all weekend, actually had a line in it. And the people in the stalls must have been writing their memoirs in there, because those doors stayed good and closed. And I pleaded with kiddo to hold it but I knew it was a lost cause, and eventually he just couldn't anymore. The old biddies in back of us clucked sympathetically and I had a brief desire to tell them where they could stick their sympathy.

And then I had to haul his wet self back to the dining room to grab the bag where I was keeping extra pants and underwear, and then haul it back to the restroom to change him (again), and this was the point where I finally lost it entirely and yelled at him, and became utterly convinced that we were never going to be able to take a vacation with him anywhere ever.

Also, they had to sing Happy Birthday to Grandma while we were in the bathroom, because they couldn't hold up the kitchen staff.

Four adults. One ADHD kid. And we couldn't keep him in line.

We did discuss the issue with his therapist this week, who suggested in future to arrive at the destination a day early, then reestablish a normal routine with him, just low-key going about the day, without immediately jumping into sightseeing or other activities. That would reset him, I guess. Bottom line is, there is no vacation from his condition. We don't get to pretend he's a normal 5-year-old.

The therapist also said quieter, nature-centric spots would be better for him than amusement parks, because that would be way too much overstimulation. Disney, for instance, would be like Vegas to him. (So much for hitting Disney next year.) I don't mind nature-centric spots. So at least that's an option.

Still, I don't think I'm in any hurry to take another vacation.