One of my girlfriends called today to tell me that reading Corey’s progress is like reading an exciting novel. It’s a page turner she can’t put down. I can understand her excitement. Tonight I couldn’t wait to write the new entry!
Corey’s speech therapist arrived at 9am today. Corey was not feeling well complaining that her mouth hurt. I described the thrush in an earlier post but forgot to share that Corey will take a washcloth and literally stuff it in her mouth. This helps with the extreme itching sensation on her tongue. Corey’s reactions to pain, frustration and anger have violently accelerated over the last week. When she is agitated she leans forward, calls out, and shakes her head and hands. We calm her, ask her to breathe (blow out the birthday candles) and ask her to “tell us” what’s wrong (or write it on her board). Once she can calm down, we can ask her questions about what’s bothering her. She’s very good at pointing, speaking, or writing what is upsetting her.
Her temper tantrum was a reaction to my asking her to remove the washcloth from her mouth; she was outraged. I reminded her of the night before when we used the ice cube to make her tongue feel better. She removed the towel and I directed her ‘out loud’ to the procedure of extending her tongue, moving it side to side then swallowing. I reenacted our process to show Diane asking her to critique the interaction letting me know if I should change the directions and/or procedure. As soon as Corey was calm and exhibited her new skill, Diane commented that she was “ASTOUNDED” by her progress. She also told Corey that she’s been a speech therapist for 30+ years and she never uses the word ‘Astounded’! Today she used that word twice. Then she asked if I could be her assistant…
Corey’s day progressed with PT from Insurance, PT/OT from school, OT from insurance and concluded with her teacher reading another chapter of Julie & Julia. By 5pm Corey was exhausted.
We sat together quietly for awhile when she pointed to her mouth and said, ‘ow’. I asked her if she wanted more ice ~ yes! Tonight we began with the same process as described above but with a new instruction. Corey places the ice cube between her teeth. She licks the cube creating a small pool of water in the front of her mouth. I asked her to push her tongue forward along the roof of her mouth. Each time she draws back to push forward it pulls the liquid in a circular motion from the front of her teeth to the back of her throat. I then ask her to swallow. She took to this motion immediately. She was no longer drooling and now had full control of the pool of cold water. As it moved down her throat, she smiled.
We continued for awhile when Corey attempted to say something. I didn’t understand the sound or the formation of the word. I gave her the whiteboard and asked her to spell it. Naturally her word was written loosely and in cursive. I could not decipher the text. I thought it said, ‘good’. When I asked her to confirm my guess she said, ‘No’. I asked her to print it. She wrote, ‘food’. I felt like a deer in headlights! “Food?” “You want food?” ~ “Yes”. Suddenly I was panicked thinking, uh oh, what do I have for her to try? What did they use at Bryn Mawr? On the speech therapists recommendation I had Applesauce on hand!
I sat Corey upright at 45 degrees. I was a nervous wreck. I took the smallest possible “taste” I could on the spoon (the size of a worn pencil eraser or candy dot) and asked her if she was ready (secretly hoping she’d changed her mind). She leaned forward, opened her mouth and went for it. At first her eyebrows grimaced and the shape of her mouth was a bit distorted as if she wanted to ask, ‘why did I want to do this’? I reminded her to move her tongue and swallow. She sat motionless for what seemed like an eternity. I was holding my breath waiting to see what she would do. Her mouth began to fill with saliva but instead of spitting it out, she moved her tongue brought the applesauce and liquid to the back of her throat and successfully swallowed.
I looked at her in amazement and then congratulated her. “This is the first time you’ve swallowed food in 11 months! Way to GO!” Corey relaxed her eyebrows, smiled and lifted her hand for a High Five. I asked her if she wanted more. She opened her mouth and reached for the spoon. The second bite was a repeat of the first. She asked for ice and then mouthed the word, “more”. I asked, ‘more ice or more applesauce’? She said, “More” and pointed to the applesauce. She successfully swallowed 4 baby bites of applesauce! ASTOUNDING INDEED!
Corey you had quite a day. We worked through many frustrating episodes, you worked hard in Speech, two PT sessions, two OT sessions, and paid attention to context in order to answer comprehensive questions. You continued to push to try something new despite complete exhaustion. You have tremendous courage.
Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. ~C.S. Lewis
You exemplify this quote. I’m so proud of you. I understand why the therapists are excited to work with you. I can’t wait to see what you will do next. I have to admit, I was a little scared for you to try the applesauce, but why not? How do we know what you can do until you try? You know when you’re ready and you have found a way to tell us. We will continue to follow your lead. Won’t Diane be excited to hear about your night!
Happy dreams, xoxo