Michelle's Front Page

They say its your birthday

September 11th, 2009


I was surprised at the feelings evoked by taking my child into the Children’s Hospital.  As I was pushing her to the clinic in the hospital complex, I felt like people were examining my child to determine what her label was.  (Paranoid much? Apparently I am, thanks for asking.)   I just wanted to put a sign on her declaring her perfectly normal.  Someone in the elevator lobby remarked “She is just watching everything.”  I smiled and nodded but inside was thinking “Of course she is.  She is perfectly normal – why wouldn’t she?”  Silly?  Completely.  It made me really feel for the parents of children who do have labels hung by doctors or society and the assumptions that those labels carry.  Aside from my own neuroses, our experience with the Children’s Hospital this time was much more positive than our last encounter.

p1000444Tessa’s evaluation yesterday was largely a non-event.  I guess in some ways I was secretly hoping for a solution.  I wanted them to say “If you do X, then her eating issues will be solved.”  As is often the case, they gave me some opinions and possibilities and maybes.

Basically the therapist discussed her eating habits and problems with me and then watched Tessa eat for 45 minutes.  She decided that Tessa has “poor tongue lateralization”.  This means that she only moves her tongue forward and back rather than any side to side movements.  This means she can’t adequately manipulate her food to chew/gum it sufficiently and it is often taken to the back of her mouth before it has been chewed or gummed enough to swallow and the gagging/vomiting begins.  It also explains why she often ejects food with her tongue even when she seems to want to eat it – she can’t manipulate it around in her mouth with her tongue like most of us do.  This is something that should resolve itself with time and a little assistance.

untitledThe therapist suggested we continue to offer her table foods cut into tiny pieces and that we use an oral-motor stimulation tool like this one from Nuk.  We’ll stroke the insides of her cheeks and sides of her tongue with it to encourage the development of the lateral tongue movements.  (I can’t even imagine the scary google searches this paragraph will trigger.)

The other possibility is that her frenulum is a little short (that is what connects your tongue to the bottom of your mouth) and doesn’t allow full movement of her tongue.  Tessa threw a holy fit when the therapist tried to look so she couldn’t be sure about that.  They can clip it if it is too short but we are going to give it a month to see how she progresses and to allow her pediatrician to see if he can get a better look in her mouth.  While I didn’t get any definitive answers, it was a relief to not hear any possibilities of the autism spectrum or sensory issues thrown about – I had mostly ruled them out for other reasons on my own but still had a little tingle of fear in the back of my brain.

In other news, I have some how managed to attain the age of 37 today.  Happy birthday to me.  And my thoughts go out to all of those remembering 9/11 for much more sobering reasons.


This entry was posted on Friday, September 11th, 2009 at 9:08 am and is filed under parenting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

31 Responses to “They say its your birthday”

  1. nora Says:

    Happy Birthday! And the fear about being in the Children’s Hospital is well founded. We are there often and no matter how many times I remind myself of why we are there, its still hard to see/think about/acknowledge your labels or those that may or may not be placed on your child. Yea for the feeding evaluation being a non-event. Hope all goes well with the umm… mouth tickling?

  2. Kathleen Says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!! Hope you have a great day! I thought of you when your Steelers won last night :)

    HOW did you create that picture “in the museum”? I might have to steal the idea for a friend’s birthday or Whitney’s bday :) Care to share? :)
    (Not that I dont think your happy face really COULD be in an actual museum…but I feel like we would have read about it somewhere :) )

  3. Ansley Says:

    Happy Birthday!

  4. Jamie Says:

    Happy happy birthday Michelle!

  5. Julie P Says:

    The NUK is a great thing. At least it helped Ally a lot with chewing and such. She was a late eater of solid foods – no gagging, just refused to eat a lot of solild foods so we were concerned about it and the OT said she would grow out of it. She did. She is still a “picky eater” (hate that label but it is pretty accurate).
    Like I said on FB Ally has the short frenulum as well but until this week when she was at an ENT for her ears we never really knew that. The ENT doc said that the short frenulum could be an issue with speech and language development. It has not been yet, but she said the restricted tongue movement can cause issues with speech as Ally gets older and said we should just be aware of it.
    Happy Birthday to you. Congrats on 37. I hope you enjoy a wonderful day with your hubby and 2 daughters. I like to think that today Michelle Smiles will have a day filled with smiles :)

  6. jane Says:

    Cara has the shortened frenulum thingy too. They discovered it during her first ped’s visit in Guatemala…unfortunately, it has NOT caused any disruption of speech or eating! Well, she didn’t talk until 22 months, but she hasn’t stopped talking since then…

    Happy Happy Birthday to you! Hope your day is filled with :)s

  7. amy2boys Says:

    Happy Birthday Michelle!!!!!!

  8. Krystal Says:

    Happy Birthday! The second picture of Miss Tessa is so beautiful. Are you loving the Lumix??

    One of our favorite items during the oral stimiulation days were grape flavored gloves. Mynor loved the grape flavor, and he was much more cooperative (and interested!) in if your finger or a jiggler toy was covered with a grape glove :) I know that http://www.beyondplay.com has them, but I think I found them somewhere cheaper on a dental supply site.

  9. Michelle Says:

    You can find the fun picture effects at: http://www.photofunia.com/

  10. karen Says:

    Happy Birthday! Hope you get to do something fun!

  11. sarahbb Says:

    I hope you have a great birthday!

  12. Hadyn Says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Love the Warhol gallery o’ you :)

  13. Marcia Says:

    Happy Birthday!
    Hope you have a wonderful day!
    I’m glad you’re finally getting to the bottom of Tessa’s eating problems. As I read your post, it dawned on me that I must have the opposite disorder: EXCESSIVE tongue lateralization. Although, unlike your precious daughter, mine can be treated with some self-restraint and a gym membership.
    Enjoy your birthday!

  14. Rhonda Says:

    Happy BIRTHDAY girl!!!

  15. Bobbi Says:

    That picture of you is SOOOOOOOOO cool!!! Hope you have a great day.

    Glad Tessa made out well. It is never easy taking our children for tests. Hope that this is easily resolved with what you mentioned in the freaky google paragraph!! At least some of your fears were put to rest. Now, if you are like any other mother you will move onto new ones:>)

  16. Deanna Says:

    Happy Birthday!!!!! I soooo love these few months of the year when our age is the same number (I know you would state that I am always older we are NEVER the same age). By this time of the evening I assume you and your family are in full celebration mode with a yummy Brewster’s treat, so I won’t call since we had a chance to chat yesterday.
    Shelby wants to “check her email” and say “Hello and Happy Birthday Michelle” plus some 3 year old lyrics to go along with that because she turns most every opportunity to speak into a song!
    Happy, happy birthday and we will have another drinking event to properly celebrate your day as in the past years some day soon.

  17. JUlia Says:

    you are one cool Momma – Happy B’day:) Tessa is blessed to have you – so are the rest of us:)

  18. elle Says:

    Happy Birthday!

    I have short Frenulum. Not totally tongue tie, but it’s pretty short. I can barely stick my tongue out past my lip. I never had mine clipped. I can only imagine that it would hurt like hell. Let’s hope Tessa’s issues are solved.

  19. Rachael Says:

    Happy Birthday! I am only 2 months behind you.

    Love the Warhol.

    Love Tessa’s blue eyes – they are stunning.

  20. mama k Says:

    Happy Birthday!!!!!

  21. KimN Says:

    Happy Birthday!

    We visit Children’s Hospital so often that we now qualify for free parking (we are there at least once a week). Unfortunately, Ellie qualifies for many of the labels. I wish it wasn’t so. Glad your experience this time was good.

  22. Laura Says:

    A little late for the party…but it is still time on the west coast to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  23. Stephanie Says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday. I hope your day was extra special.

  24. carla Says:

    happpppppy 5 hours belated!!!

    when we got home from the Mala there was some concern about E’s hips and we had to do a bunch of testing.
    Every time we went for the tests/follow up I was thankful for all she could do—no matter the outcome of what we were investigating.

  25. Leisa Hammett Says:

    Hi, Michelle. How clever that Warhol-ish take off featuring you. Very nice. Like that. (Andy Warhol has a form of high functioning autism, called Asperger’s syndrome, btw.) As far as the labels thing, well, as a parent of a child who has “labels,” it can be viewed several ways. If there is an issue going on, many parents feel relief to have a name, to have a path now to look for help and information and get help. Labels, unfortunate as some may view it, are what you need to get help in the public school system, where severe disAbilities are served best in greater Nashville. Secondly, we can choose how we allow labels to affect us. We can view them as slapped on, hung onto us by society, etc., etc. Or, we can go about our merry way and know that labels do not define us, as Jerry Newport aptly named his book about having Asperger’s/Autism: “Your Life is Not a Label.” Or, the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee’s slogan: “Down syndrome unites us, it doesn’t define us.”

    It’s an important lesson I learned in my early 30s that carried me into the disAbility journey at the near end of that life decade. As individuals, we are each responsible for our own feelings. We choose how we are going to feel about things and other people and even their actions toward us. And if we think that they think something about us and it bothers us, there’s likely something within us that believes it or believes something about us is inferior, etc. That’s my truth and it’s radical to some, but not unique by any means.

    We did the NUK brush with occupational therapy to desensitize my daughter with autism from her mouth-food sensitivities and it worked beautifully. We had some great private and public school OTs. There are also specialists called Feeding Specialists and even a place where I’ve known people to go in Pa. just for feeding therapy. Of course, you may not need ANY of this! I hope not and I’m believing and knowing the best for you and your sweet one!

    I came on here to post that I referred to you over at a social media site where I am a moderator, MomsLikeMe.com of the Tennessean where they have an adoption group. Here’s the link: http://nashville.momslikeme.com/members/JournalActions.aspx?se=&filter=0&m=247131&dt=MWorldData.Message&pi=1&sn=0&si=Comments&g=247043&q=&sd=

  26. Yeah So Says:

    Happy Happy Birthday! Glad the day was a non event – you can get yourself so worked up imaging all sorts of crazy things – our friend’s child had their frenulum clipped and it make a instant huge difference in eating and speech, and the procedure was worse on the parents than it was on the kid. Hope it doesn’t come to that, but just so you know it would be fine if it did.

  27. Jenny Says:

    Hey-o! Happy birthday!
    Or as A would say “Argh, Matey!”

  28. Manjit Raina Says:

    Hi There, just came across your posting on tongue lateralization. I have been having major feeding problems with my 15 month old boy ever since I started him on solids. He was also born with mild low muscle tone and needed physical therapy to sit up. He started walking at around 13-1/2 months. Just like your daughter, he too swallows his food. There is absolutely no chewing. Couple weeks ago our county occupational therapist suggested he has tongue lateralization…and that is probably the reason he was not chewing. We have also been working with the nukee, that you have shown, to stimulate his mouth and giving him table food cut into small pieces. I would love to hear more from you on what exercises you are working on with your daughter. Thanks..

  29. Jennifer Says:

    Hi Michelle,
    I have been reading your blog for quite some time because I too have adopted a girl from Guatemala. The girls are close in age. Anyway, I am a speech therapist (plus I have a short frenulum) who has worked with feeding patients and read your latest blog post about Tessa. Sounds like you should see some improvement with the Nuk brush. Did the hospital give you specific exercises to work on? If you need further assistance I would see an OT or a feeding specialist (OT or a speech therapist). :) Let me know if you have any questions – I could try to help.

  30. DD Says:

    Sorry if I’m late to the birthday party. You’ll forgive me if I bring wine, right?

    Happy Birthday!

  31. site Says:

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of your site?

    Its very well written; I love what youve got to
    say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it
    better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1
    or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

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