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the eric update - day 594: it's not a skinner box. but it is therapy.

no, we're not creating our version of a skinner box ( b.f. skinner's daughter swears she was never actually a lab rat either, longstanding rumors nothwithstanding ), but a regularly climbing in and out of boxes is part of odin's new therapeutic regime to address The Vision ( Motor ) Thing.

the full set of activities are meant to address issues above and beyond the specific edge detection/depth perception issues that may or may not be "real"; we've been taking him all over trying all sorts of stairs, little steps transitions and for the most part, he does great. sometimes he trips and sometimes he doesn't want to walk up stairs but i'm guessing all kids do that :-)

and, of course, this week at the preemie play group he aced all the things he "failed" last week, surprising the staff. or maybe he just really good at compensating. ).

in any case, even if he doesn't have any any edge detection deficits, he still has to work on his sense of proprioception which is often underdeveloped in micropreemies and can lead to poor body awareness, standing balance, bilateral coordination and motor control.

we don't notice it so much anymore, but The Experts still think he walks like a drunken sailor, albeit one who is extremely good at compensating for his inebriation.

for those that are interested in these sorts of things, the abridged list of activities are:

"1. walk on various gradients, terrains and uneven surfaces.
2. walk up and down inclines and declines. be sure to do these activities in all types of weather: sunny, cloudy, windy, wet surfaces.
3. holding eric's [sic] hand, encourage him to walk on raised surfaces such as a curb, cement divider, cracks, railroad ties or embankments.
4. encourage eric [ sic ] to participate in climbing activities that involve getting in and out of boxes, laundry baskets, stepping onto and off telephone books. these activities will improve his perception of making judgements that involve distance and depth.
5. using a full length mirror have him face you and encourage him to imitate various body motions such as: reaching for the ceiling, swaying from side to side, shaking your head, bending to touch your toes, marching in place, making arm circles, lifting one foot off the ground.
6. place a ladder or dishpans on the ground and have eric [ sic ] stepin and out of each section or rungs in the ladder.
7. place a long piece of masking tape on the ground and encourage eric [sic ] to follow the tape with his eyes as he "walks the line".
8. when putting pants on, have eric [sic] stand up and holdonto your shoulders as he lifts one foot up to put his foot into the hole of the pant leg. this is a great activity to estimate depth and improve balance and motor control at the same time."
as always, feel free to share your suggestions :-)

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2/18/2006 06:58:00 PM 4 comments


Hello Eric,

I read your request for adjustable stairs.

Indoors you could stack flat pieces of plywood on top of each other. Add or remove pieces to change the rise. Larger pieces would obviously be more stable. You could even screw the layers together for added stability.

I also saw the pictures of Odin with the sled. I'm not sure if you have as much snow as we do in Vermont, but what about cutting stairs into a snow bank, holes dug in the snow on flat surfaces may also help test whether vision is an issue.


Matt N.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:01 PM  

Good for you to keep looking on the bright side of things and for being so proud of your son. He may not be where "The Experts" say he should be, but he's made tremendous progress and your love for him is amazing!
I loved the comment about him compensating for his inebrieation! :) I bet somday he'll read that and laugh!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:52 PM  

I fall on the side of finding these experts a bit demanding! My son is a month behind Odin (born October 2004, due November 2004) gestationally-speaking, but well behind him developmentally, as far as I can tell. He can't handle rough terrain to save his life (especially in a snowsuit), isn't close to knowing his colors, can't seem to figure out how to put his face in the water without sputtering and gagging, etcetera, etcetera. I often take inspiration from what Odin's up to/check in on Odin to see what my boy will be doing in a couple of months. From my perspective, Odin is quite advanced!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:42 PM  

thanks matt for the suggestion!

anonymous: "I often take inspiration from what Odin's up to/check in on Odin to see what my boy will be doing in a couple of months. From my perspective, Odin is quite advanced!"

thanks for the comment. i've said many times that it's almost impossible to keep a balanced perspective on what's "normal" or not. so, it's always nice to hear encouraging words :-)

By Blogger e3, at 3:17 PM  

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this site chronicles the continuing adventures of my son, odin, who was unexpectedly born on the fourth of july at 25 weeks gestation, weighing 1 pound 7 ounces.

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