Can you guess which one of my offspring is Pinky and which one The Brain? On face value it would seem obvious, literally. Look at their faces. But then look again…
When Rufus’s second birthday came skidding round the corner, with it came some relief in acceptance. No, he hadn’t caught up. Labels don’t stick very well to him (he can get a right sweat on during a meltdown but that’s by the by), but his development delays went from existing, to marked, to severe. A matter of semantics it may be, especially depending on who’s looking down on him. But there are tics there as well. All in all, Rufus is just Rufus. But he’s not like other boys his age, or half his age according to the charts. My stance maybe biased, but never one to rest on our laurels, I know that he’s got a lot to give and so when knocked back by the barbed words of some clinicians, I looked to therapies.
I stumbled across mention of Brainwave in another blog, it was her mention of her scepticism being challenged that had me hooked. I’m not expecting miracles, but I also didn’t want to invest our time or money into something that wouldn’t go above or beyond. But as I read into the holistic ideology, and the idea of ‘unlocking potential’ it just felt right. So, after a cancellation, our assessment week came around quickly. A two day course at the centre in Warrington. Despite my bias over my son, I was still anxious. I knew we were going to find out where he charted. I was scared as to whether they would see the same potential. He’d managed to spend the prior week in the hospital, bed bound by a nasty chest infection and rotavirus. He wasn’t at his best.
Double nappy bag packed, children fed and dressed and heart in mouth we arrived prompt at 9.30am. Dulcie had managed to spend the entire journey in some sort of state of upset so we bundled inside, set up in the family room and I attempted to calm her with a feed. My Mum made the teas, we relaxed into the warm welcome and Rufus giggled with a pink light up wand appropriated from a playdate the day before. A history given, disbelief at our lack of occupational therapy barely hidden, a summation of our hopes and wants and we were ready for the start of play. That’s the lovely thing, my boy is very playful, and there were immediate clucks of approval at how quickly he giggled or responded to the toys in the room. I felt the glow of pride.
We played and observed, tried and tested. Rufus rested in the sensory room, really rested. I could feel the tension release from him as his watched the bubble lamp. Bashed the buttons to change the colours. I suddenly felt the importance of a space like this for him. Somewhere to shut out the visual blur, the confusion, his struggle to connect. But there was something very important I wrote there, something even I didn’t really think my boy could do. Bash the buttons to change the colours. He really does understand cause and effect. The buttons are separate to the bubble lamp, not on it, but near by. And I thought something I hadn’t really been allowed to think before. My boy is clever. Brainy. Not in a delusional way. I don’t think the IQ charts are going to be troubled by him. But there it was, the potential. Laid bare.
On day two we returned to run through a program, which focuses on physiotherapy and occupational therapy using a variety of pieces of equipment loaned to us. Filmed and burned onto DVD. Written out and laminated. A thirty minute selection of exercises, but we had all the time in the world to ask questions, to talk about Rufus. To all enjoy him. To see that he can assess objects and whether they need rattled, shaken, turned or banged. And when the program was done to watch him play and enjoy the motion activated projector in the sensory room. To see how quickly he could learn to wave his arm and chase butterflies. Roll around and play the piano. Touch the tiles to flip them over. Tears of pride still prick my eyes as I write this. Rufus behaved impeccably, and all this attention on him really did him the world of good. His eye contact became less variable. He connected more with us all in the room. And of course, not least the 12 hours of sleep it granted after each day.
There’s a development milestone which most parents will be aware of. Dulcie is on the cusp of it. She does her own maori dance of excitement when she sees one of us. It won’t be long before she reaches her arms up to us to be picked up. I now know this. But Rufus has never done this, and I came to doubt whether he ever will. But we discovered that if you ask for his hands to play, he places them in yours. Not just as a fluke. It’s intended, just as when he chooses not to do it. Chink clunk. Unlocked The Brain.
So what of Pinky, chubby and equal parts serious baby death stare and glorious smiles and squeaks and giggles? She idolises her brother, watches him in utter fascination. Let’s him grab her face. Her OxBridge application is already in the post…