Well, there are all kinds of brushing.
First we have the ever popular toothbrushing. With toddlers/preschoolers, it always becomes an olympic event. Very rarely do they hold still, remember to spit and not swallow, keep their curious tongues out of the way, and to look in our general direction so we can try to see what we are doing!
Second most popular would be hairbrushing. As most of you may have noticed in pictures, my children have buzz cuts. We have found it is a cheap, (I do them myself) and easy way to maintain cleanliness. Especially with my children. I've been known to call them "full body eaters". They really could be hosed down after each meal. Regardless of his lack of comb-able hair, Ethan does like to take my hair pick and try to brush his hair. I think he likes the feel of the pick against his skull!
Another favorite would be paintbrushing. Ethan would dip and paint with the little paint brushes all day long if I let him. Unfortunately, my house would then be all brown, (his favorite color so far) and the paper would be quite clean. He likes to express himself on other mediums, not just boring paper.
The form of brushing that I am now getting to isn't known by most people. It is used on children with SI Dysfunction as a way to give their muscles the input and stimulation they need, so that the child doesn't have to find another way to do it, which usually ends as a dysfunctional way.
We take a little surgical brush and every two hours we proceed to firmly press the bristles on Ethan's skin in an up and down motion, starting with his arm. While trying to continue to touch him we move to his back, and then to his other arm. From their we move down to one leg and then the other. If you start on skin then you need to do all skin. Otherwise you just go over the clothes, (as in long sleeve and pants). The process takes about 2-3 min. and 85% of the time, he absolutely loves it. After we've "brushed" him, we then follow up with compressions of his joints. We call them, "tens, or boom-booms" because when doing them we either count to ten while doing them, or say "boom-boom-boom" with each compression. Basically all you do is stablilize the joint on either side, for instance if your doing his wrist, you would hold his hand with one of your hands, and his forearm below the elbow with your other hand and compress the joint together about 10 times. Then you move up to the elbow, then the shoulder, then do the other arm, etc. Basically wherever there is a joint, you would want to do the compressions. Again this entire process only takes about 5 min. Or so from brushing to compressions.
So, how is it working?, you ask. Well, really well. We went to Maine this weekend to visit our friends who have 5 children...Age range 10-3months. Four boys and a girl. Needless to say, when we add in our active little guy, it becomes quite loud and active in the house. Generally fights break out in any situation such as these, but in the past it has usually been Ethan hitting, pushing, taking toys or items from the other kids, and just basically being a little....well you get the picture.
Not this weekend. Saturday we managed to remember to brush him every two hours, and despite the fact that he never napped nor did he ever have quiet time, he got along fantastically with everyone. We didn't have any incidents of hitting or any of his usual behavior. It was amazing.
Then came Sunday. Ethan had about 4-5 hours where the brushing just didn't happen, and it showed. At one point he took a piece of paper from his friend Henry who really wanted it back. Every time Henry tried to get it back, Ethan would run away from him. Henry tried asking nicely for it, Ethan just ran. Then, in an impulsive move Ethan crumpled the piece of paper into a ball right in front of Henry. Well, Henry was rightfully upset, and by the time I came in to intervene, (my hubby was out, and Joshua was being quite clingy) Ethan was in tantrum mode. I asked him to pick it up and apologize to Henry, he just kicked the paper. I told him to sit down in the chair, because he needed some time to cool off, and he took a swing at me. I picked him up to put him in the chair, and he just started hitting me, no matter what I tried to do.
While this was all happening, my friend Cheryl and I were chatting in the kitchen. As the scene played out, Cheryl looked at me and asked if he had been brushed lately. I looked at the clock and realized that he hadn't, and by the time we had the situation "under control", I knew the end result of this catastrophe was SI, not 3 yr. old behavior. What started out as a three yr. old game, ended in a SI meltdown.
So, I got him in the chair, and as I was brushing him, could see in his eyes that he was calming down, and could then listen to me. He just wasn't hearing me before, and when I touched him to get him into a seat he just reacted to his space being invaded. I could tell he felt bad, and didn't know quite what to do, so he went to Henry and apologized several times, even brought the paper back to him. After that, things went well again.
So, for those of you doubting Thomas' out there, who may believe that children shouldn't be labeled, and that those of us who do get our children treatment for SI Dysfunction may just be looking for something that isn't there, I say the proof is in the pudding...Ethan pudding that is. I don't put a patch on him that says "I have SI Dysfunction don't push my buttons". He just is. And if we can help him through it with "therapy" then so be it. Wouldn't you do whatever you had to do for the sake of your child's wellbeing too?
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Well, there are all kinds of brushing.