Sunday, December 27, 2015

TNI - what a commitment!

TNI is a commitment.

It's a long learning process to which there is no manual. 

Targeted Nutrition Intervention utilizes vitamin/mineral/herbal supplements to support a child's (with Down Syndrome) cognitive health, process, and progress.  I don't want to get into the premade blends from a couple of companies because they don't apply to us; Kaiden's supplemental needs are unique to him.

In October, we started him on a little extra magnesium because now that he's getting adult teeth, I wanted to see if we could cut down the occasional teeth grinding and magnesium is known to be good for that.  He was already getting some magnesium in one of his other supplements - which helped a lot with the teeth grinding - and I wanted to boost the magnesium with out boosting the rest of the ingredients.  There are different types and we are using Reacted Magnesium.  With lots of trial and error (and patience!!) we found his optimal dosage, which happens to be 3 little taps out of the capsule.  It's such a little amount, I think it comes out to be approximately 3mg, when the recommended dosage (for an adult) is 235mg.  Not very easy to measure out - I just have to eyeball it.

I did not expect it to have such an effect on his behavior!  Any more than those 3 little taps and he doesn't sleep at night.  Any less, and his behavior in the afternoons can get pretty wild.  While we had resolved the potty-ing issues at school, his behavior in the afternoons was still more wild, less focused and I knew we could do better, but I didn't expect the magnesium to be the answer.  I can only speculate why he was acting wild and unfocused in the afternoons at school, and I imagine stress/anxiety from November (see below) had a lot to do with it.  Now that we've found his optimum dosage, his behavior has completely changed.  He is calm and focused; if the other children in the classroom act out, he does not join in or engage; he stays out of it and prefers to do his schoolwork.  Sometimes he prefers his schoolwork over any movies they show!  He is much more social.  And at home, he's become so much more cuddly, loving, and all-around fun to be around. 

This, after all the years of button-pushing, boundary-finding, challenging behavior typical of any child . . . on one hand, we joke that I need to drug my child to love me (LOL!!). But really - it's been amazing to see this transformation.

November was very difficult for Kaiden, and me too.  We lost my beloved Lola at age 7.  The transition from always having her, to no dog, was hard on him.  We tried to introduce a rescue dog - she did very well with myself and Kaiden, but her fear of big, tall men got the better of her and after a week she very aggressively went after Nick while his back was turned. That wasn't a pretty situation nor one I ever want repeated, so with that, she went back to her foster family and we've been dog-less since.  Another transition from dog to no-dog, poor kid.  We decided to wait for a puppy - and in early December, I told Kaiden we'd go meet some puppies after the holidays and see if we could find one who would be a good friend for all of us.  Later that evening, he said via his speech device, "I want dog please."  I may have cried a little. :)

Now, the holidays can be challenging for us - I don't like to turn down family invitations but sometimes the environment is just not a good one for him and there's nothing the host/hostess can do about it.  Kaiden needs to be able to have a quiet space away from the noise - not that he always needs it, but it needs to be there if he DOES need it. And when not at home, he tries to go outside to escape but doesn't remember to ask for help putting coat/shoes on and doesn't always remember to ask for permission, either. So if his needs can't be met, we have to leave - or we just don't go in the first place depending on the environment.  And now that he relies so much on his iPad for his sensory needs (auditory as well as using the LAMP app like his speech device) I worry that it's going to get stepped on and broken when he sits with it on the floor with so many people around. Not anyone's fault; it's just the way it is.

This year - with such improved behavior on the magnesium - well I should say, with reduced stress/anxiety, he was able to progress with a lot of other things - I was blown away by him this year.  At school, they have a program where all students are sent home with gifts so all children have a present to open if the parents can't afford it - he was sent home with SIX gifts!  One of them was making noise inside the wrapping.  He wanted at it because he knew exactly what it was - it was the same toy that's his favorite at my mom's house.  He even insisted on putting those gifts under the tree, pushing the big bag across the floor himself; then he helped me wrap presents for everyone else (really just constantly trying to hand me the scissors and paper, LOL).  This was the first year we put presents out before it was time to open them and he did GREAT!   I told him he had to wait until Thursday (Xmas Eve) when Dad got home from work to open them.  After the initial putting them under the tree, he did not touch them, not even once.  And when time came to open them, he knew which ones were his and was able to physically open two of them all by himself with no help - awesome for the kid with very low motor skills!  At the inlaws, gift opening is a free-for-all, which of course he loved.  At my mom's, everyone takes turns and after a couple of rounds, he did well with the turn-taking. He doesn't typically show a lot of facial expressions and it was so heartwarming to see his surprise and pleasure at the gifts he received.

With all the progress he's made just in the last month I can't wait to see what 2016 will bring.

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