Ben’s New Glasses

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We all love how Ben looks in them!  Doesn’t he look cute?  The photo above was taken in our church nursery yesterday morning.  I think he’s finally starting to look more like a little boy than a baby.

As I mentioned on my post about Ben’s last ophthomology appointment; we were told that his eyesight had deteriorated considerably over the previous year.  He had become quite nearsighted and would need glasses.  A little over a week ago, we finally got around to taking him to the optometrist to choose some frames.    This optometrist, a very nice lady, specializes in pediatric and special needs eyewear, and is about 45 minutes from our home.  The big boys were in school, and Nate came along.  Ben wasn’t too happy with having several frames put on and taken off in rapid succession, but he was a trooper.

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It was a tough decision, but we found some that we liked.  Nate was unusually fussy that day, and when we came home we found he was running a fever.  Fortunately, he ran a temperature for only 3 days, and he seems fine now.

This Saturday we made the trek to pick up his new glasses.  This time we had all 4 boys with us.  It turns out that the optometrist is very busy on Saturdays, so we had to wait a bit.  The boys occupied themselves with the toys…

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…and Nate and I just hung out on the couch.  Ben’s glasses needed some final adjustments (the earpieces had to be molded to ensure a snug fit), we fit his hearing aids over them, and finally we were done.

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Afterwards, we went out for lunch, went to the mall for a bit:

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Ben was VERY interested in looking around at EVERYTHING.  (Yes, Nate was missing a sock so we bought him some new ones!)  When we were sure we had tired everyone out, we came home.  All four boys fell asleep in the car.

So far, Ben’s response to his glasses has been overwhelmingly positive.  He has left them on, and he has been so much more interested in looking at more distant objects.  He even seems to make better eye contact.  I guess his poor vision was more of an impairment than we realized, and it makes us feel a little guilty for not acting on this before.

I really hope he tolerates his glasses for the long haul.

Overheard #2

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Me, early one morning:  “Are you all ready for school?”

Isaac:  “No.  There’s one thing that’s missing.”

Me:  “What’s that?”

Isaac:  “Interest.”

Feeding Difficulties

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Ben has been tube fed since birth, and ever since then, we have been determined that he will one day learn to take most of his feeds by mouth.

Ben, however, has other ideas.

Our dedicated occupational therapist has been helping us to work with Ben for the last 2 1/2 years to get him to make the transition to oral feeds.  Unfortunately, we go through the following cycle over and over again:

  1. Ben does reasonably well for a few days,
  2. Ben then regresses and absolutely refuses all attempts at oral feeds,
  3. We back off for a few days to a few weeks.
  4. Repeat.

When Ben was a year old, we took him to a feeding specialist at our favorite tertiary care center.  Of course, he did really well during that session.  Our goal was to get him to eat at least 30 cc by mouth so that we could do a swallow study to make sure he wasn’t aspirating.  Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get him to that 30 cc goal a year and a half later.

Finally, we visited the feeding specialist again 2 days before Christmas 2008, a year and a half after our initial visit.  We probably shouldn’t have waited this long.  Ben did reasonably well during that session again, the specialist was great, didn’t scold us for not bringing Ben in sooner, and he offered a lot of good, practical advice.  He instructed us to keep feeding attempts short (10 minutes) and consistent, offer very limited interaction during the feed itself, until Ben cooperates by opening his mouth for the spoon.

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At that point we are to praise him, and offer him a brief reward (e.g. getting to flip a few pages of one of the board books that he loves so much), remove the reward, and start again.

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We came home very hopeful, since Ben had done so well that day.

Unfortunately, we have hit another bump in the road; another period of regression.  Ben has started to open his mouth less and less, and he gets more and more upset with each attempt.  We have gotten to the point where he won’t even take one spoonful in the 10 minutes; he clamps his jaws shut tight, and he shakes his head from side to side.  Our feeding specialist is awesome; he is accessible by email.  I told him the problems we’ve been having, and he suggested offering Ben a single spoonful, holding out until he cooperates, however long that takes, and then rewarding him with praise and removing him from his highchair and letting him play.

Sounds good in theory, but unfortunately we are afraid that Ben can outlast us.   He is a stubborn little guy when he wants to be, and we do have three other kids to attend to.  Worst of all, since we started all this Ben hasn’t been his usual happy giggly self, and that makes me sad.

So I’m not sure what we’re going to do at this point.  I think we’ll pay another visit to the feeding clinic soon and see what strategies they suggest.  If we’re not successful in getting Ben to transition to oral feeds with a home-based program, we may need to enroll him in an intensive feeding program at the feeding clinic which itself isn’t an easy option because it is located an hour away from our home.

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Meanwhile, Nate has recently tasted his very first bites of baby cereal.  He made it look so effortless.  Ben was sitting just a few feet away in his highchair, and was completely unimpressed.

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Who knew that such a basic thing as eating could be so difficult for some kids.