Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Learning Disabilities Awareness Month


This has been a topic dear to my heart, as any of you who follows Karmickids might know, the brat has issues with learning. While they are not specifically any learning disability related, there is definitely the issue of PPD/NOS that has impinged on his learning skills, and slowly but steadily I have been working with him to get him on a level that he can cope albeit tenuously with the rest of the class, and the rather punishing syllabus they seem to have in schools these days.
Therefore, when I broached the idea of a month devoted to spreading information about learning disabilities on the mommy blogosphere amongst few mommies I knew would have the inclination to take time out from their daily routines, and spend time researching the topic, I wasnt prepared for the overwhelming support I got. So here, first, is the thank you. A huge thank you to each and everyone of you who agreed to be part of this month. And a special thank you to DotMom for creating us a wonderful badge.
Here, in no particular order, are the posts on issues relating to Learning Disabilities from the mommy blogosphere.
Disclaimer: Some of these posts are compiled through online research and none claim to be conclusive. None of the mommies who have written for this Awareness month have a medical background in the topic (although some might have personal experience in dealing with a child), and therefore, if anything written seems to ring a warning bell, please do consult a medical professional for appropriate assessment and guidance.

Tharini of Winkiesways wrote on Types of Learning Disabilities, a post that is crossposted on DMC.

Lak concentrated on the self esteem issues faced by a child with learning disabilities in her post.

I wrote on how important it is for parents to work with the child towards dealing with Learning Disabilities. I wrote partly from my personal experience. And partly through net research.
Itchingtowriteblogs wrote on Unlearning Learning Disabilities.

(The operative word, and what Priya also mentioned, and what I also firmly believe in, is early intervention. Use your instincts as a mother and get help for your child the moment you feel there is an issue. Speaking from my experience, I kept getting told that boys speak later, and I was making an issue of a non issue, but my gut instinct that my child did not respond like other children had me making the rounds of pediatric neurologists from 18 months to find out what was wrong with him. And the brat started speech and occupational therapy at 19 months. Early intervention, I cannot stress enough, is the key.)

Ceekay, the dear, gave us two posts on ADHD and on a very important topic, namely that of Being an Advocate for your child. I feel the second topic is vital for parents who deal with educationists who insist on slotting children into categories, and neglecting children they feel dont make the grade. You have to push for your child, and by that I dont mean you need to be a Momzilla, but you need to work with your child's teachers to bring out the best in your child and make sure your child gets the opportunities he or she deserves.

Sue drew on her personal experience with her brother to talk about the stress examinations cause. And the bitter truth that the examination system often doesnt account for intelligence.

Priyainsuburbia talks about how she and her daughter have come a long way, drawing on her experiences with her daughter's speech and language delay. A post that really touched my heart, seeing as the brat was also struggling to speak full relevant sentences till age 3 and a half. Now of course, he doesn't shut up.

There are a couple of more posts scheduled, and we will update this list when they come up.
I do hope this month has been educative and informative to all the blog mommies. Do write back with your feedback.

Sleeping through the Night Hunger Pangs...

[written by Sheela at The Joy of My Life, crossposted here]

At just about every visit for the last few months, Oggie's doctor has strongly recommended that I turn a deaf ear to his cries in the middle of the night, stay firm about not feeding him, and let him sob himself to sleep. Not in any cruel manner, but by using Kim West's technique like Shuffle or something similarly humane and gentle.

Now, the theory seems to be that a 'normal', average-weight 10-month-old can go upto 10 hours without feeding, with no adverse effect on his growth. He can be trained to recognize that 10-hour stretch of nighttime is to be reserved for sleeping without eating or drinking. This, after making sure he feeds every two hours during his waking hours. Go Figure!

Backing up a little, How much should a 10-month-old eat, and how often? Well, approximately 3 meals (3-4oz serving of veggies/fruits/meats/cereal) and maybe 3 snacks (baby's handful of finger foods/fruits) at daytime - viz., breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks roughly inbetween - giving allowance for his nap times, if they exist, plus about 16oz of breastmilk or formula (some claim up to 24oz).

Hm. Seems like a lot, doesn't it?

But, considering that his stomach is the size of his fist, and that I manage to sneak in only about 5-10 baby spoonfuls before he protests vehemently, turns his face away while mercilessly swatting my over-eager feeding-hand, I guess it makes sense to feed him as often as suggested so it manages to meet the nutritional needs for his age. Perhaps this is precisely why they recommend feeding attempting to feed every two hours or so during daytime...

How then can I train him to not expect any meal from 7:30 pm to 5:30 am, from his bedtime to his wake-up time?

The books I've read so far on teaching babies to sleep on their own, for I do believe I should not be a crutch that makes him rely on me for his restfulness, seem to be geared towards getting the baby to fall asleep on his own in the first place, and then simply extrapolate the same technique when he wakes up in the middle of the night.

Now, when a particularly delightful and sweet-tempered baby decides that no amount of cuddling/patting/rubbing/singing is going to make his hunger pangs go away, and holds out for the measly 4-5oz* of beverage that he sucks down in almost a single long gulp, I feel terribly cruel denying him that in the middle of the night in the name of teaching him to fall asleep on his own. I mean, he can fall asleep on his own if he is not so darn h.u.n.g.r.y, it seems to me...
* and, I have greedily attempted to offer 6-8oz hoping he would sleep longer with a fuller tummy - quite an unsuccessful enterprise so far

Unbeknownst to me, and much to my exasperation, my mother has sneaked into me this seemingly altruistic belief that once I have kids, my life is not my own: I live, breathe, sleep, wake up, eat and think only for the kids, and God forbid I put myself first every once in a while and choose sleep over burnout.

I have been breaking out of it slowly now with Oggie (seeing how detrimental it was for me with Ana), choosing not to co-sleep but to be at a sneezing distance from the wee one at nights, one ear cocked to the tune of the baby monitor and feeling terribly guilty the whole time.

How is that better for me? Well, naturally, it is better for me because it is better for Oggie as he is not dependent on me to rock him or cuddle him to sleep - he can fall asleep on his own terms. But, more importantly, after I set him down for his sleep in his crib, I get to take care of my other domestic chores, and maybe sneak in a movie or show or some good-reading to relax, or perhaps even grope for a sense of fulfillment by indulging in some sewing/crocheting/knitting/painting before I retire for the night and catch a couple of hours before Oggie's tummy tugs at my heart again...

Quelle horreur! I chose not to co-sleep because I can have some "me time"?! What sort of a mommy am I?

When Ana was a baby, she would not fall asleep on her own, so I'd have her on my bed, cuddling and patting till she seemed in deep delta non-REM state, enduring my overfilled bladder and longing to read a book but not daring to turn on the light, or for that matter move much as that would wake her up screaming... it was harder for her to break out of it than me, I admit, but, she eventually accepted her crib away from my bed and learnt to fall asleep.

And, of course, each baby is different, so, I cannot expect Oggie to mimic Ana in every way, at least not at this age, not in any significant way... so, I have to figure out what works for him. And me, of course.

And, letting him cry for an hour before giving in and feeding him makes no sense. So, I watch for signs and count the hours before his wee tummy might feel the hunger pangs again - this depends on how his previous feeding went, naturally - and just get up and feed him. Which turns out to be every four** hours still!
** p.s: it is not like I have not tried loading him up right before bedtime with a thickish 8oz mixture of cereal with formula as the doctor suggested... after wasting about 6 of the 8oz for about 6 out of 6 days in a row, I decided to respect Oggie's tastes.

And my colleagues wonder why I bother chugging down decaf by the potful every morning, leaning over my desk dangerously close to resting my carelessly up-swept hair on the keyboard, blissfully unaware of my mismatched socks...

Managing LD

Girl Next Door who blogs at Girl-Next-Door has the next post in the series Learning Disability Awareness month

She says "Once you have a diagnosis, what's next? Is there a cure for LD? It depends on how we define "cure"! If a cure to you means ensuring a successful, independent life for your child, then ABSOLUTELY YES!! With proper help and guidance, your child can learn to adapt to living with LD and go on to accomplish their dreams. I prefer to use "Managing" rather than "Treating" LD."

She has excellent points on how to manage the condition

One of her points say "Any site I checked emphasized on - "EARLY EARLY EARLY!" Early Intervention! Because otherwise, it can have a snowballing effect - if not intervened early on, the child can get frustrated at lagging behind, and that can lead to severe self-esteem problems, and it will take much longer to undo this damage!"

Go over to read the entire text here.

To know more and to contribute to this ongoing event contact Kiran @ Karmic Kids