Happy Birthday Hannah! I can't believe it, but my baby is two years old. Where in the world did the time go? This past year has brought so many joys and challenges that I can hardly believe we managed to fit it all into one year! As promised, I have many more updates for you all. I'll start with Hannah's party since that is the title of this post. We had the party at the gym where Hannah takes gymnastics class and it was wonderful. Hannah was relaxed and totally in her element. She had a blast and was a good hostess as well. Little did we know that by having the party at the gym we were picking the best possible location/activity to set Hannah up for success with all of those people (more about that in just a sec). Hannah of course was spoiled rotten by all the gifts, love, and attention she received. She still hasn't stopped talking about some of her favorite things from the party. After the official party was over several people went out for a late lunch/early dinner and just sat around and chatted. Hannah did a great job of spreading the love around and visited each table for an extended amount of time with no fuss at all. It was a great day! Thanks to all who were able to come and share Hannah's special day. Those who couldn't make it, we missed you.
Ok, back to what I was saying about our venue choice for the party. As I mentioned in my last post, Hannah started seeing a developmental therapist for her social issues. On her first visit the therapist did some additional testing on Hannah and determined that sensory integration problems were at the root of Hannah's social difficulties. We had never even considered that Hannah had sensory issues. The tests showed that Hannah had oral and tactile defensiveness, low threshold, low registration, and sensation avoiding. Unless you are an OT this probably means nothing to you. Even after the research I've done it's hard for me to understand fully, but what it basically boils down to is that because Hannah is concentrating so much on these sensory issues she has little energy or tolerance to deal with socially challenging situations. The therapist is creating what is called a sensory diet for Hannah to help her meet some of these unmet sensory needs she has and to desensitize her to some of the stimuli she is defensive to. Contrary to what it sounds like, a sensory diet is not food at all. It's a list of specific activities designed to provide certain sensory needs throughout the day. Hannah's personalized sensory diet is not complete, but the therapist gave us a list of activities to try out and use on our own and we are already seeing amazing results. Today Hannah played with a 4 year old boy in the crowded playplace at the mall for almost 20 minutes! She was interacting with him, having conversations with him, displaying parallel play, and even initiating play. This has NEVER happened before. The other day the same thing happened with Evelyn. Hannah played very well with Evelyn and even shared a VERY cramped space inside her toy car. Hannah was even the one that initiated that arrangement! Apparently many of the activities involved in gymnastics and tumbling meet Hannah's specific needs which explains why we have always noticed that she was much more tolerant of other kids while in her gymnastics class. I was always puzzled by this given how chaotic the environment is, but seeing the results of her preliminary sensory diet makes me a believer. Hannah will continue with gymnastics for as long as she remains interested and we can afford it. We are so pleased so far with Hannah's therapy and are SO hopeful that things are going to continue going well.
Potty training is going quite well. Hannah has had 3 days of being dry all day-including her nap. Now these weren't 3 days in a row dry, but it's still a really good start. She's also getting a lot better about telling us when she has to go potty before she actually has an accident. She's definitely not 100 % in that area since there are many many things she would rather be doing than sitting on the toilet, but it's progress none the less. The other day I was in a store that had a play area for kids. I was standing just behind a rack so that she couldn't see me, but I could hear her. She stopped playing, called for me and when I came to get her she said, "I need to poop. Then play again?" She was willing to stop playing and go to the bathroom as long as I reassured her that she could go back to playing as soon as she was done. I was so proud of her!
Hannah had another overnight at Mamaw and Papaw's house a few weeks ago and she had a blast. I think she wore them out, but they seemed like they did ok. She was totally pumped to go stay so that she could feed the horses. That girl REALLY likes feeding the horses. Speaking of horses, Hannah also went to visit Aunt Heather and ride Harley. Hannah LOVED riding Harley and even got to trot all by herself. Harley was such a good boy doing pony rides for everyone. Hannah really liked visiting Heather and even made Heather take her to the bathroom and hold her once when she got hurt. Heather may not be a kid fan, but Hannah's sure latched onto her.
One of Hannah's newest skills that we aren't especially pleased with is opening doors. She can now get into and out of pretty much any room that doesn't have a baby proofed handle. Consequently, we now have to lock her into her bedroom at night and for naps. This DOES NOT make her happy, but we can't have her just wandering the house by herself at night. Speaking of getting out of her room, the other day Kyle forgot to lock her door when he put her to bed. The next morning we were awakened by Hannah coming into our room and grabbing Kyle. We didn't even hear her open her door or ours! She has also learned how to open bi fold closet doors. Several times I have come into her room after naps to find all of her dresser drawers emptied and the clothes hid around the room, diaper packages opened and the diapers mangled and strewn about, and the trash can emptied and scattered around the room. One day she even found the wipes container and pulled every single wipe out and wadded them up and threw them around the room! UGH!
Hannah has been playing a lot lately with her new play dough and sidewalk chalk. She gets quite a kick out of them both. They are hours of cheap fun. Fortunately these are both activities that the therapist recommended as part of her sensory diet so it's nice to not have to try to squeeze in all totally new things. Jumping is another skill that Hannah is working on perfecting and she is getting quite brave about it. She regularly attempts (and sometimes succeeds if I'm not careful) to jump off of our deck from the top step or to jump off of chairs and the couches. The therapist told us that jumping on a trampoline was also a recommended activity so we used one of her birthday gift cards to buy her an indoor mini trampoline with handles for her to hold onto. It just came in the mail yesterday so we haven't had a ton of time to play on it yet, but so far it's been a hit.
I've mentioned before that Hannah has been naming things lately. Well, she has this cabbage patch doll that she got for Christmas. It's wearing a green and red sleeper and reindeer antlers. It's a baby girl and I forget it's real name, but Hannah has officially christened it Phil. One of our friends who Hannah loves is named Phil so really he should consider it an honor, but it's pretty funny to think of a big macho guy sharing a name with a green and red cabbage patch doll wearing reindeer antlers!