I’m sure he’s purposely trying to move now, to influence his environment. When I lay him on the floor he twists his body as if trying to roll over. Sometimes I find him gripping his toy or his blanket. When I hold him I think I can feel his arms curling round, holding me back. Recently he’s even brought his hand to his mouth a few times and sucked it…
… Or did it just end up there and get accidentally dribbled on? Is this all just a mother’s wishful thinking, clinging on to some small signs of progress after eight long months when his hands and feet were permanently purple because they simply weren’t moving enough to keep warm.
Most of his movements seem involuntary and undirected, firstly because they are often separated from their stimulus by a long period of time – I admit his responses aren’t he fastest, and secondly because they tend to go in the opposite direction from what they are trying to achieve! When presented with a spoon or a breast his initial response is to stiffen and jerk his head away, an involuntary reaction that must be even more frustrating for him than it is for me. Understandable then, that to anyone else they seem completely random.
And does it even matter? Even if his movements are completely random muscle spasms, perhaps treating them as real, encouraging, helping and praising them often enough, might just start to reinforce them. After all, that’s how we all learn isn’t it? A process of evolution. We start out making chance noises and movements, then learn to repeat the ones that achieve something or get a response, while the ones that don’t are gradually filtered out.
I guess this is a dilemma we’re going to face repeatedly: how to help and encourage him to reach his full potential (whatever that may be), without causing him to suffer by pushing him to do things he will never be able to do.
So, for now, I’m going to assume that if he can do something physically he may, consciously or subconsciously, today or some day, want to be able to control it mentally and neurologically. When he twists as if to roll over, I gently roll him the whole way. When I find a toy in his hand, I will bring it up to his face, rattle it, squeak it. When he hugs me, I hug back, as tightly and as warmly as I can and for as long as he will let me.
Call it pushy parenting, call it wishful thinking, I’m going to believe that he can do it and what’s more that he knows what he’s doing.