{Parker Weekly} Five Weeks Old

The summer is flying by, and Parker is growing by the day. Everyone keeps telling me how soon I’ll forget that he was ever this little, so I am taking tons of pictures and holding him as much as possible.

The first month felt a bit like I was living someone else’s life; as much as I absolutely adore my son, I missed the way things used to be. But now we’re five weeks in and I’m finally getting used to life with a newborn — it feels, dare I say, normal. It helps that I’m feeling much better physically and emotionally, and we’re getting out of the house much more often. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been to the park, shopping, and friends’ houses. I love showing Parker off almost as much as the change of scenery :)

The most exciting thing this week has been witnessing Parker’s first “real” smiles. I was lucky to catch a few of them with my iPhone, and they are by far my favorite photos of him up until now. Most of the time he looks so serious; his smiley faces are so cute and playful.

The most EXHAUSTING aspect of this week has been the constant eating. Parker’s going through what can only be a major growth spurt, and he demands food almost every hour of the day (and most nights, too). Luckily everyone tells me this is temporary, and soon we’ll go back to a much more normal eating and sleeping schedule.

So in the meantime, I’m just trying to enjoy the extra bonding we’re doing during all those feedings. Oh, and playing lots of Candy Crush Saga on my iPhone ;)

One Month Old

I had grand visions of spending my maternity leave blogging, writing in Parker’s baby book, writing and recording songs, organizing my house, etc. while the baby slept peacefully in his bassinet a few feet away. HA! The number one lesson I’ve learned since becoming a mom: don’t expect to get much of anything done with a newborn in your arms.

Parker has made it clear that in my arms is where he likes to be at ALL times. Sometimes if I’m lucky I can put him down in his rock ‘n play without waking him up, and he’ll nap there for awhile (which is how I’m getting this blog post written), but mostly I hold him, which leaves me with only one hand free. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time watching TV and playing on my iPhone.

This first month of Parker’s life has been mostly wonderful, with just a few hiccups along the way. I’m coming to terms with the fact that my job now is to care for and feed my baby, and that I have to let everything else go. It’s been a big adjustment, in all honesty. But when I’m holding him in my arms, watching him eat or sleep so peacefully, I feel like he is all I need in life.

This morning at his one-month checkup, we found out that Parker has grown two inches since birth and is in the 85th percentile for length! He is also gaining weight like a champ and the doctor called him “perfect” — we are so lucky.

And now, some photo highlights from this past month:

My kissy-faced angel!

Destined for superstardom.

Meeting his Uncle Josh and Aunt Jeni for the first time.

Chilling out after bathtime.

Isn’t THAT the truth.

Our little family.

Sensational Ideas for Working With Children With Autism (Part 1)

I’m currently on maternity leave, and many of my colleagues have been kind enough to share their expertise via guest posts throughout the summer. The following comes to you from Amy Kalas, MM, MT-BC.

Child on therapy ball

I am constantly on the lookout for ways to improve my skills as a music therapist, aren’t you?

I find it fun and motivating to discover more and more effective ideas for engaging children in music therapy and connecting with them through music.

The children I work with at both my full-time job at UCP’s Early Beginnings Academy and in my private practice, Wholesome Harmonies, are primarily diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

One of the main things that enhanced my work with these children is co-treating with occupational therapists who specialize in sensory integration. Through these co-treatments, I began to learn about the unique sensory needs of children with ASD and brainstorm how I can address those needs in a therapeutic music experience.

In a session where I have children who are “sensory-seeking” (those are the ones jumping and crashing into things, seeking sensory input), I always ‘start with sensory.’I’ve found that if I “feed” that sensory need by providing the children with a sensory integration experience such as jumping on the trampoline or bouncing on the therapy ball, they are better able to attend to and engage in the subsequent music therapy activities.

Here is a video showcasing an example of one sensory integration experience I use in my sessions with children with ASD:

In this video, the children are receiving proprioceptive and vestibular input by bouncing on a therapy ball, while the music is organizing the whole experience. The lyrics cue the children to bounce and stop; and the rhythmic beat and tempo tell the children how fast to be bouncing. All these elements work together to create an experience that is appropriate and beneficial to the children.

This activity can be extended by having the children move in different ways on the therapy ball: they could lay on the ball on their stomach and bounce up and down, or they could lay on the ball on their stomach and roll front two back, using their arms and legs to push themselves back and forth (I hear a nice 6/8 accompaniment in my head for this one!)

The ideas are endless…why not meet with an occupational therapist and find out some other ways you can utilize the therapy ball in your music therapy sessions?

This is just Part One of a series I am starting on Music Therapy & Sensory Integration on my blog, Wholesome Harmonies. Want to stay up to date on the next installments? Click here to hop on the list!

Amy Kalas, MM, MT-BCAmy Kalas, MM, MT-BC is a board-certified music therapist with eight years of experience working with children and adolescents with special needs. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy (2005) and Master’s degree in Music Therapy (2010) from University of Miami. Amy has been employed at United Cerebral Palsy of Miami as a music therapist, practicum supervisor, and internship director since 2006. She recently accepted the position of Interim Professor of Music Therapy at University of Miami.

Amy is also the owner of Wholesome Harmonies, LLC, where she provides music therapy services in the Miami area. She is the author of two E-Books: Tuneful Teens: Creative Ideas for Engaging Adolescents in Music Therapy and Sensational Songs & Ideas: Sensory-Based Ideas for Music Therapy. You can visit the website and blog for Wholesome Harmonies at www.WHmusictherapy.com.

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