A couple of months ago Dee told me about Tacpac® – a form of communication and stimulation through touch and music – and it sounds ideal for Sophia. Her supervisor has said that she can access Tacpac training but none has been forthcoming thus far and after my recent meltdown I really feel that I need something to do whereby I know it’s great for Sophia but I don’t have to think whilst I’m doing it, I can do it by rote as if someone else is taking responsibility. Tacpac sounds ideal for this and it is incredibly frustrating that we’ve been talking about it for 2 months now but haven’t got any further.
And then two days ago we had a joint Portage and Vision Support session and Jane, Sophia’s vision specialist, informed us: “Oh we’ve got Tacpac in our office, you don’t need training, it’s dead easy.” (I know it can be bought on-line through the website: http://www.tacpac.co.uk, but I was nervous about ordering it, not having the training and thereby potentially ruining what should be an extremely positive experience for Sophia and had therefore decided not to buy it.) Later that day Dee picked the Tacpacs up from Jane’s office and yesterday we completed our first session which Sophia was rather indifferent to, but today’s session she tolerated considerably better even giving a contented sounding sigh at one point. It’s fab and Jane’s right, it is dead easy.
Why do people make things out to be so difficult? Is it a form of protectionism over their knowledge? Or maybe they want to make things seem more difficult than they are to make themselves seem more impressive? Who knows, but it’s child’s play – literally! The accompanying CD guides you through the activities and Jane provided all the stimulatory devices including, weirdly, a wooden paddle, a soft brush and a bristly pan scrub. You basically pat, prod, stroke and blow on the skin with different textures, different timings and different pressures, in time to some Asian sounding music. The jury’s out on the music for me, but it must have been chosen for a specific stimulatory reason and not as something to completely aggrieve the person performing the therapy.
The whole effect is rather like a gentle shock therapy massage and Sophia’s standard massages have become too difficult for me to do this past month as she wriggles constantly, but strangely she didn’t try to wriggle away during the Tacpac sessions. I’m hoping she’ll come to really enjoy it although simply tolerating it is a good start.
So that’s the first positive. The second is self-feeding. I know on the photo on the Meltdown page it looked as though Sophia was beginning to completely grasp the art of self-feeding, she wasn’t. She grabbed the food and splodged it round her face never managing to actually put it in her mouth, but today she fed herself a crisp styled crunchy carrot stick whilst in her standing frame. I of course shrieked with joy at the sight. For ages I’ve been trying to help her put her hand to her mouth in preparation for feeding, giving her small biscuits, dissolving crisps etc., anything big enough to hold but that she doesn’t have to chew as she can’t do that yet (although I have been giving her sandwiches simply to get her used to different food textures). It has all been to no avail, however, until today whereupon I fed her a few crispy sticks to get her started then put one in each fist and attempted to guide them to her mouth. She did her usual attempt at resistance but then her kitten-like tongue lapped at the stick, then she took a bite, then grinned the hugest grin in delight as I clapped and cheered. She repeatedly bit and sucked at 6 sticks whilst beaming from ear to ear (after she’d finished one, I put the next in her hand). It was an absolute joy to behold.
Immediately after she’d finished eating, I noticed that she’d cut another tooth, her fifth and it looks like her sixth and seventh are about to appear. Finally, her teeth are coming through thick and fast. I’ve never bothered commenting on her teeth before as they are merely a general state of (unconscious) development. Her centre bottom teeth came through at 14 months, her centre top two came through almost 4 months later and now, at 19 months, another couple are appearing. If this had been James, teeth would have been a big issue as teething is hideous for any child – it obviously hurts, results in snotty noses, hideous colds, temperatures, sleepless nights and a general feeling of misery which spreads to the parents as well. But all this has been so minor in the grand scheme of Sophia’s life thus far that it has seemed a little ridiculous to make a big deal out of it. Plus I’ve bought the best camomile crystals from the health food shop and a scoop of those rubbed on her gums every time she’s remotely grizzly calms her immediately. (I definitely wish I’d known about those with James.) Therefore teeth haven’t been a big deal, however, go on Mumsnet.com or any other blog-site for new mothers and they are a VERY big deal! The only issue we’ve really had with Sophia’s teeth is wondering whether she has been teething or is coming down with a cold – and we’ve been wondering that since she was six months old and obviously, most were hideous colds and not at all related to the teething. But then all parents have that concern, although perhaps not the underlying fear that the hideous cold could turn into something much worse I suppose.
But back to the positivity. We were at the library after school and someone asked how old Sophia was now and wasn’t she walking yet or at least sitting up. I didn’t feel upset – which was good – merely a little miffed that the woman who asked didn’t appreciate her brilliance… I put her right of course and the whole conversation felt incredibly positive and uplifting by the end with the woman heaping what I felt to be the most appropriate praise on my gorgeous girl!
I’ve realised since the Parent Support Workshop that I don’t want to be one of those parents who feel that their child is being got at if people stare or ask seemingly thoughtless questions. It’s so easy to take the victim mentality on behalf of your child but actually it reflects your own inability to cope in a positive manner. I know, I know, I had a monumental meltdown a few weeks ago, but still, I do try to be positive and I am determined to always face people in an uplifting way when talking about my gorgeous girl. I appreciate it will be difficult and there will be times when I will want to spew venom at a particularly thoughtless or unkind commentator but I really hope I manage not to. I was at the sensory impairment group again this week and there is one particular mother there and all she does is complain and moan and carry a look of abject misery and thunder on her face at all times and she shouts at her bewildered poor boy constantly – he’s hearing impaired, maybe she has to shout(!) but it’s very sad to witness, for both of them. She is obviously extremely distressed and even though in the grand scheme of things her son’s disability is incredibly minor compared with many children I’ve met recently, there is probably a lot going on at home and elsewhere, but I just don’t believe that that attitude helps. I don’t believe it helps her child to feel loved and appreciated and I don’t believe banging on about negatives all the time helps the parent cope. As much as her negativity is as draining as a Harry Potter Dementor, it really is a case of – if all you do is look for the negatives, that’s all you’ll see.
Of course my new-found positivity could be but a blip and misery and meltdowns will return in abundance, but I am determined to try my damndest to keep upbeat, my amazing, giggling gorgeous girl deserves an upbeat mum.