Friday, July 9, 2010

Perplexed. Baffled. Observant. Anxious. Searching.

This was not Nikko's best day overall, and his behaviors have left me truly baffled. Today was by far the most revealing in terms of sensory issues and I feel inadequate in trying to figure him out.

This morning after breakfast while I stood in the kitchen I leaned over the dishwasher to check on the kids in the living room. I saw Nikko hunched over the chaise lounge, clutching his burp cloth and toy shark. He was trying to blink, trying to open his eyes but his eyelids were heavy and shutting on him. He looked distraught so I ran over to him to check him out. Nikko wouldn't let me near his eyes as he continued to struggle with opening them. I deduced that he had accidentally poked his eye with something. A yellow plastic toy knife lay on the opposite end of the couch, which could have been the culprit, but he was also holding a blue and yellow shark with a pointy dorsal fin. I went to close the shades because the light was probably burning his eyeballs. I tried to turn his face to mine or view the whites of his eyes for blood or leaking fluid. Thankfully there was none, not even a torrent of tears trying to expel a foreign particle, but I did see a little red spec that was never there before, probably a broken blood vessel. I was freaking a little, wondering what would render a call to the pediatrician if there was no evidence of trauma other than the current struggle to keep the eye open (and the spec). Denis brought over an ice pack but Nikko wouldn't let anyone put anything on his eye. I called my mom for advice since I had just talked to her minutes before, and she calmed me by saying to just observe him for a bit. "You know how you can tell if he is ok? Let him play with some water. If he plays with it just like he always does, then he's fine. If he doesn't play with the water, or doesn't enjoy his favorite activity in the whole world, then something is probably wrong." Mom was right. Nikko calmed down and didn't even try to rub anything out of his eye. I'm always conscious of eye problems because I've had many of my own, especially recently. If he started rubbing his eye, causing tissues to swell, then that would be a big problem to me. I decided that if he was in pain by lunchtime, I'd call the doctor. Nikko, thankfully, was calm and no doctor was called today. Not long after this, Nikko had tripped on something random in the hallway near the kitchen and started yelping. I didn't know he had cut his toe on something until later, when I noticed the dried blood on his pinky toe. Poor Nikko!

I think all the kids were antsy this morning so I decided to take them into the basement to jump on the trampoline and the foof chairs. They did, and I even helped them jump from the tramp to the chairs with a 1-10 countdown. Soon it was lunchtime, then Jenna came for Nikko's ABA. I put the little kiddos down for a nap, and it felt like a blip in time but Nikko was soon finished with ABA, had a good session. Jenna noted, however, that he had some emotional outbursts. One minute he was reciting things, then got angry, flopped on the floor, became challenging, but then turned into Mr. Sunshine again. I saw some of these emotional outbursts earlier this morning as well. Tianna came at 3p, right after the kiddos woke up, so I gave them a quick snack and got us out of the house. It was sunny, hot and humid, but the forecasts had predicted thunderstorms so I nixed swimming earlier that day. I opted to take the kids shopping, then go play in a park if the weather permitted. We drove up to Lakeshore Learning so I could buy photo cards for Nikko. Tianna took the little kiddos around the store while I had Nikko tailing me. I found the cash register I wanted for his birthday present, as well as a fishing game that Ronin would enjoy for his birthday. I picked up a bag of plastic animals, especially for the giraffe that Audrey seems to favor. I also got a blue wall pocket organizer that I hope to convert to a daily picture schedule that we can all follow, to know what/where we're going to do for the day. Now I just have to put it all together. Nikko got whiny toward the end of our store visit, so I took us to a park near Prospect High School. It's set up at the end of a residential street. We had visited this park a long time ago, but when I drove up to it today I was happy to see that it had been totally renovated. The playground equipment was updated, the shelter was the same but had a better patio border, and the park seemed less dreary. The kids enjoyed it, but since they were wearing Crocs the wood chips kept stopping them from fully running rampant. It was also unbearably humid so I herded us back home. Nikko didn't want to leave and was asking for a cookie, so I gave them some Oreos as their snack for the short trip home.

Right before dinnertime, Nikko and Ronin had discovered a new way to entertain themselves in the living room: run back and forth on the couch, from one end to the other. It was springy and fun, but many dangers were apparent to me. It wasn't stopping them from trying, and when Audrey decided to copy them I really got anxious and tried to persuade her to come with me in the kitchen for dinner. The boys were loving it, of course. They all got really sweaty, too. Later on, I heard a big THUD on the wall. I went to investigate and deduced that Nikko had bounded on the couch and hit the wall with his cheek. He looked a bit in pain, but recovered quickly and wouldn't let me near him, of course. I thought his cheek was colored a bit, but I'll know tomorrow that it hurt if I see a bruise on him. These kids are all going to give me a heart attack and white hair before I turn 40. GEEZ!!!!!

After dinner, after more couch running, after Audrey's bath and bedtime, Nikko started running around with the empty plastic shopping cart from Target. He worked himself up into a huge sweat again, running that cart back and forth in front of the TV and in the kitchen. As we herded the boys into the bathroom for bath time, Nikko started dropping to his knees. He was doing this while undressing, too. And when I put him on the toilet while Ronin was getting his bath, Nikko seemed to lean over and then flung himself flat onto the bathroom floor. There wasn't much room at all so this alarmed me. I helped him back onto the seat and then he leaned over again and fell purposefully. And hard. It looked to me like Nikko was seeking sensory input by slamming himself onto the floor, so I sat him up again and when he tried to lean over I gave him some firm hugs and tried to stroke his arms. Nikko got angry with me and pushed me away hard. He tried to lean again so I tried to interrupt his fall. Nikko got mad at me for interrupting and pushed at me again, vocally shouting his anger at me. I was at a loss. I didn't want Nikko to keep falling so hard on the bathroom floor tile, but knew that he needed some deep pressure input somehow. Ronin's bath was finished and I warned Denis that Nikko was dropping to the floor at will. And that's exactly what Nikko continued to do in the bathtub. By the time his bath was over and we got into the bedroom, he flung himself onto the bed and then onto the rug just one more time. I saw him lean toward the hardwood floor but steered him toward the rug instead. After storytime, prayers and tuck-in, there were no more crashing incidents. But it really made me wonder what transpired today to cause him to seek this sensory input at the end of the day. Two days ago I worried that Nikko was becoming aggressive because he wasn't getting a sensory diet like what he got through school in OT. That's why I chose to bring the kids downstairs for some jumping. Did this morning's jump session overdo it? Are Nikko's emotional outbursts a way for him to communicate that he is not feeling regulated or calm, and/or needs some help? Was today's outings too much or too little for him, being in a store that had lots of visual stimuli, and not enough time on the playground? Nikko hadn't taken a nap today, but almost fell asleep on the way to the park. Did that factor in his crashing later in the evening? All his actions today have left me wondering all over again what triggers Nikko's need for deep pressure, or how I can get this kid to wear a weighted vest of his own free will? Not every typical OT recommendation would work on Nikko, so I have to keep trying other things. I've been scouring my copy of The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun for ideas, and will continue to do so.

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