Archive for February 16th, 2005

Our Ongoing Unit Study on the Brain (as Taught by Wonderboy)

February 16, 2005 @ 1:13 pm | Filed under: ,

Wonderboy had his OT evaluation today. Our marvelous physical therapist, M., brought an occupational therapist, K., out to meet our little guy. I don’t know about Wonderboy, but boy was I exhausted when it was over. (Actually, he conked out even before they left, while they were writing up their notes.)

Watching his responses to various sensory stimuli and activities, I couldn’t help but marvel at the complexity of the human brain. Wonderboy’s brain abnormalities manifest in high muscle tone, irregular vestibular function, and gross & fine motor delay. What amazes me is how intricately everything is linked together. His sensorineural hearing loss contributes to vestibular problems, which contribute to gross motor delay, which is (in part) why he can’t yet, at fourteen months of age, crawl or transition from lying down to sitting and vice versa. But then again there’s the muscle tone issue which makes it hard for him to lift up his head from the tummy-down position, and babies with hearing loss hate to be cut off from visual contact with their parents. Another strike against crawling—and crawling helps a baby’s vestibular system develop properly, so it’s the chicken and the egg. Everything linked, everything working together to make motor function a challenge for this kid.

But the human brain is like a stubborn old man driving his car—no point in telling him “you can’t get there from here.” If the road is closed, he’ll just keep driving around until he finds some obscure, winding, unpaved back road that—eventually, after a tooth-jolting ride—gets him to his destination. Wonderboy’s brain hasn’t figured out crawling, and when you pull him to his feet he walks with a step-drag sidestep, but by golly he’s determined to move.

That determination, that drive, is what blew me away today (as it does so many days). Seriously, babies are my heroes. They push and push and try and try until they succeed—or fall asleep from exhaustion. Now there’s a work ethic for you.

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