After all sorts of strife with our health insurance company, we were finally able to take Avery back to northern Virginia for some more Anat Baniel method therapy at the beginning of October. We're seeing someone new because insurance wouldn't pay for therapy with Carla, and so far things are going well! Her name is Catherine, and Avery seemed to enjoy "playing" with her as much as she did with Carla.
I drove up on Thursday night with Avery and Oliver, and Brogan stayed at home with Grandma. We almost weren't going to be able to go, because Avery had a bit of a cold on Wednesday, so I kept her home from school. It wasn't a particularly bad cold - she just needed to rest, so she lay on a pad in the family room pretty much all day. She didn't have an appetite either, which is normal for her when she's sick, but in the late afternoon she decided she was hungry so I gave her a cheese sandwich. She finished it and had another half a sandwich after that. At 5pm she was lying in bed talking to Gabe on the phone when I noticed that she had red patches on one of her eyelids that sort of looked like blisters. Then I saw another one on her other eyelid, and they started spreading. By the time Gabe got home from work at about 6:15, all the little fluid-filled pockets had joined together to make her eyes just look really puffy, but she also had little red dots developing on her chest, neck and stomach. I had called the nurseline and she told me that if it got worse that night that I should take her to urgent care, but otherwise I should take her to the doctor first thing in the morning. It was odd, because it looked like some sort of allergic reaction, but I knew for a fact that the only thing she'd eaten that day was that cheese sandwich, and that was nothing new. So I was thinking that it must be somehow related to the cold symptoms. So she went to bed, and I checked on her during the night every time I went in to feed Oliver, and the rash and swelling got worse. By morning it was looking a little better, and I took her to see the doctor at 8:20. She couldn't figure out what it was either. The only suggestion she had was that it might be mumps, but she didn't really think so. Of course she asked if she'd been exposed to anything new that she could be allergic to, but she hadn't. She suggested I give her antihistimines just in case. So after I got home I reluctantly called Catherine and left a message explaining that I thought we should cancel since I didn't really know what was wrong or if it was contagious. Avery seemed to be feeling almost completely better, but her eyes were still swollen. She wanted toast for lunch, so I went to the kitchen to make it, and for some reason decided to look at the ingredients, which is when I discovered that the seemingly innocent cheese sandwich she had eaten the day before was actually the culprit!! The bread had hazelnuts in it!! I never would have imagined that I would have to check bread for hazelnuts!! It was a type of bread that we'd never bought before, but still, it was bread! Who'd have thought! So I called Catherine back to cancel the cancellation (!), and got ready to drive up to my brother- and sister-in-law's house, since they happen to very conveniently live only 30 minutes from Herndon, which is where Catherine's practice is. :)
So, on Friday morning we set out for Herndon! Of course, this visit was our first visit, so it felt very much like the first time we saw Carla, because Catherine spent a lot of time getting to know Avery and her body and capabilities. One particular thing she noticed was Avery's strong preference for side-sitting, and how she only ever sits to one side - with her legs to the left. This means that her left leg is always in the same position it would be in if she always 'W'-sat, and that is not a good position. Avery's default has always been w-sitting. When she was little, she was able to maintain a sitting position if we placed her in it, but it wasn't until she was crawling (about 14 months) that she was able to get into a sitting position by herself, and the way that she did it was by getting up onto her hands and knees and then pushing back into a w-sitting position. She was never "allowed" to w-sit, but I also felt that it wasn't fair to be constantly telling her "Stop w-sitting" when that was the position which allowed her the most independence, but it's something we've always worked on. Now that she's older, she is really quite comfortable in a side-sitting position, and these days she does choose it over w-sitting on a fairly regular basis, but, as I said, it's always the same side. Her left leg is tighter than her right, and I'm not sure whether this is the cause or effect of her always sitting with her legs to her left side. She can sit cross-legged, but rarely chooses this position since it's not very comfortable for her, and doesn't give her as much stability. But she never side-sits with her legs to the right. This was one thing which Catherine very gently worked on, and as you can see in the second picture, she did manage to get Avery sitting with her legs to the right. I don't think I've seen her sit that way since we've been home, but she has been taking some pretty steady steps at home. And there have been more and more days when she goes to the bathroom and uses the toilet all by herself without even telling me until she was done! A week or so ago there was a morning when I was still sleeping but was vaguely aware that I could hear Avery crawling around. Then she came into our room and whispered "Mom, I just used the potty all by myself and I didn't wake you up!" Cute girl :)
Last month Avery started seeing Tiffany the OT again. She saw her 2 or 3 times in February. Gabe took her because I'd managed to double book and had to meet with Avery's teacher at school, but he said that Tiffany was amazed by how much Avery had progressed in 6 months! She's not even sure that she would suggest we continue with OT at all :) I'm taking her to see her again tomorrow and we'll talk about it some more then and decide what to do, but she has progressed a lot in her hand-eye coordination and such recently. Her drawing and writing skills have improved dramatically, even in the past few weeks. Of course it's impossible to know exactly how much credit can be given to any particular activity or therapy, but I am looking forward to going back to ABM therapy next month. It was after our second visit to Carla that we saw all those huge strides in Avery's development, so I'm wondering what we might see her doing this time next month...