Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Going Out to Eat is Getting Harder: Olive Garden Edition

We thought it was a good idea to take the kids to Olive Garden one night because we didn't feel like cooking.  What we didn't realize is that the kids were not able to handle being in public on that very night.  

The first problem was getting Charlotte into her high chair.  She SCREAMED bloody murder in this quiet little area of the restaurant. I finally got her to sit down and strapped her in with the entire room watching in anticipation of whether we were going to ruin their night.  I was only sweating a little. Then Tommy started throwing a fit about who knows what.  It was looking to be an awful night.

 Everything was much better once the food came.  Spaghetti city!! What a mess!

But what's more fun than noodles and red sauce?? 

What's exciting is that Tommy can even have the breadsticks.  He was a little suspicious at first but then he scarfed it down. 

You can see in that picture that Tommy had his Captain America shield sitting on the table.  As we were leaving, a young waiter came running out after us yelling, "HEY! HEY! You forgot your shield!"  He was in a total panic.  It was kind of awesome.  Tommy left his shield on the table.  I totally missed it when I was doing my last minute sweep to see if we forgot anything. Ugh.  That would have been disastrous as Tommy sleeps with that shield in his bed! So the waiter that came running after us finally caught up to us to give us the shield.  He breathed a sigh of relief and said, "That would have been bad!!" I think he is also a Captain America fan.  Love it. 

Phew.  That turned out to be a much better night than it originally started out.  

Bathtime Never Gets Old

Bathtime is so great. I think it's because the kids are confined and they play nice for awhile.  It's nearly relaxing!

Plus they're so adorable in the tub.

Their conversations are even better.

Bath time is definitely the best time!

Is It Spring Break Yet??

 I ordered some swim suits for the kids.  Charlotte wanted to put hers on right away... over her clothes, of course.

Hey cutie pie! Ready to go swimming?? 

Tommy didn't really want to be bothered while watching the Avengers so I tried this instead.  Is that a sweet Captain America suit or what??

FaceTime Inception

A phone call inside of a phone call inside of a phone call...

It's Spring! (For a Hot Minute)

 There was a weekend not to long ago where it was B-E-A-YOOOOTIFUL outside. We got to play outside again!

Check out the dunks we were putting down. Double dunk!!

This picture cracks me up so I included it.  #selfiememories

We even went to the playground by our house.  


I cannot wait until it's really spring.  So much playing to be done! Where you at, SUN?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Research with Tommy T

In our pediatrician's office, there was sign for a research study being done at Purdue.  It was for 4-5 year olds who stutter.  They wanted to study language development in kids who stutter at an early age.  I thought I'd check into it.  
Tommy easily fit the profile and he was cleared to be studied.  The first meeting was just checking the place out and informing the mom what exactly they would be doing.  I did not like it. But I figured if Tommy didn't want to do it, he'd make it clear and we would just opt out.  

The beginning of every Saturday was playing games and being assessed in language development.  This part was fun.  

Then we would go into one of the rooms.  Scared face emoticon inserted here. ;-) This is the dinosaur room.  I sat back and just let it happen because I didn't know how he would react.  They turned on Tom and Jerry and loaded up his face with monitors.  OMG.  

I could see him in the computer monitor but that was it.  There was one point where he leaned forward to see me and smiled and got totally distracted so I went back to hiding. :-) 

 So this is Tommy connected to all the sensors.  The superhero light sensors, as we called them.  He pretty much HATED this.  The worst part was that there was a sensor attached to his top and bottom lips.  Then he would have to say weird words like NIMPOFUM and Daddy helps Bobby Paint a Picture or something along those lines.

 The first time he had to sit and do this for nearly an hour.  Can you imagine? He did AMAZING.  They were very impressed with him as a 4 year old being able to do all this.

 The Penguin Room was not as bad for him.  Maybe worse for mom. :) He had to have these sensors attached to his head and then he watched videos and rhyme words.

 He did amazing with this too!!

They made me sit out of the room for this one.  But I got to watch on the monitors, hear the audio of him talking, and see him on the screen.

 Each one of these lines shows one of the monitors on his head.  This is his BRAIN working through the things he was seeing.  It's amazing.  Now as a mom, this is scary because you wonder what is it doing to his brain.  But according to all the information they gave me, there's no more harm in doing this than watching TV, radiation-wsie.  They can't lie in a research study, right? :-)

They would show him words and he would have to say if they rhymed or not.  The other time in the penguin room he had to listen to a story and the story would have weird words and random sentences that make no sense inserted in it.  Like, "The girl took his her frog to his her room and they their room was blagerstom."  That's only exaggerating a little.

 The coolest part about watching the monitors happened with this game.  He was "fishing" for these puzzle pieces and as he picked up one fish, it swung back and forth.  As it was swinging, one of the lines on the monitor went up and down like crazy to match his eye movement as he watched fish.  That was pretty cool.

 They did a hearing test to make sure he could hear well.

 They also did an attitude test on him.  I had to leave the room for this one too because they said answers can be much different if parents are in the room.  He answered all his questions with full confidence in how he speaks.  We want to keep him with this attitude! He is now enrolled in speech classes at Purdue which is kind of exciting.  He is learning some basics such as rates of speech and they are also covering what bumpy speech is.  Before this point, we are not sure he even had a clue.  It's time to start talking about it, I guess.  We didn't really know how to approach it and they are giving us a lot of great ideas on how to talk about it.

What this research project is doing is studying the changes in a preschoolers brain as the child is developing early language skills.  I don't have the exact percentages but a large percentage of kids who stutter discontinue stuttering around age 8.  It just goes away.  The smaller percentage (I'm thinking it's less than 10-20%) continues.  They want to see if they can tell what is different in early language development to determine who needs early speech therapy as they are going to continue to stutter the rest of their life.  Since Tommy is genetically loaded (he has it coming from both sides), we went ahead and started speech therapy due to the odds he will continue.  

Tommy was child number 136! I can't believe they've convinced at least 140 kids to do all this so far! But how great is all this? I hope they can find some answers that will help children get the therapy they might need instead of putting it off until they are older (around age 8) which is the suggested method at this point.

 Tommy took some convincing each time.  He really didn't want to take his Saturday to go do these odd things.  But he usually negotiated some sort of deal for himself and it all worked out.  One Saturday when he REALLY didn't want to go, he finally said to me, "If I go, can I get a Thor mask?"  I said, "Absolutely."  He came along without a peep.  Whatever works, right? One day, I told him he was helping lots of other kids by doing this and he came along no problem.  It's just the right words on the right day, I guess.

Every time he goes in for the session, he gets to leave with a cool prize.  His speech teacher told him that at his last session for the study, he needed to ask about the superheroes in the cabinet.  He talked about this ALL WEEK.  Then when his last session came up, every chance he got, he would bring up the superheroes.  He would get a break from the video he had to watch and he would bring up the superheroes.  When can we get out the superheroes? Is it time for the superheroes? How about now?   Not yet, Tommy.  Just wait, Tommy.  Almost time, Tommy.
 Finally, he got out of the penguin room and he could see the superhero stuff sitting on the table.  He STILL had to remain patient while they removed the monitors.  He was so very patient.

Finally he came to the table and looked over the prizes for the week.  He could choose between a Hulk, a Spiderman, an Ironman, a Lightning McQueen, or a Harley Davidson motorcycle.  Do you know what my Avenger-loving child decided to pick on this day?? The freaking motorcycle.  My mouth dropped the to the floor.  I looked at the professor and the grad student and they were doing the same thing.  We all burst out laughing.  Way to keep us on the our toes, Tommy T.  In his defense, he said he picked Captain America's motorcycle.  Okay, dude.  I like your style.

So the next step in the process is that we do a lot of this again after he turns 5.  Then they check in with us every year to see how he's doing.  We get a full write up on what they're learning in the study and we get paid (college fund moola) so I hope they learn lots of awesome things from our awesome dude.

Sidenote: Tommy was playing basketball outside one day and he started saying nimpofum over and over.  Ha! He remembered! So don't cuss in front of him!! ;-)
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