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K Bear

K Bear

Male / 2 years & 7 months

Share the first part of K Bear's story for readers on Sleuth! When and why did you start to feel concerned?

When K Bear was 6 months old we took him to a Christmas party with lots of similar aged babies. They were all rolling and some were even trying to crawl. I felt alarm bells ringing but friends and family reassured me that boys take longer to develop and that K Bear was just lazy but we felt uneasy. We put the delayed development down to lack of sleep and almost zero time spend doing tummy time as he’d just scream. At his 9 month check-up, the paediatrician was concerned that he rarely rolled and still couldn’t sit unsupported. He recommended physiotherapy and reassured us K Bear would only need two or three sessions. Now looking back at photos before this check-up, K Bear was starting to sit unassisted but had slowly lost the ability in the run up to spasms starting. He’s also not smiling in most of the photos around that time which we now know are tell-tale signs of IS. A few days after this appointment K Bear made a strange movement, a little like he was losing his balance and putting his arms and legs out to steady himself. His arms and legs would fling outwards like he was falling forwards. He had an ear infection at the time so I thought it was due to that, however, I sent an email to the paediatrician describing the movement the best I could. He told me not to worry and that it sounded like a normal baby movement. A couple of weeks went by and K Bear was still doing this strange movement a few times a day. We had started referring to it as ‘jumping’ or ‘falling’. My father-in-law was very concerned when he saw it, but I told him the paediatrician said it was normal. He wasn’t convinced. We finally got footage of the spasms and sent it to the paediatrician on a Saturday, two and a half weeks after we first saw one. He replied later that day which we thought was strange as it was the weekend. He told us he’d forwarded it to a neurologist and the lump in our stomachs expanded. We were terrified.

Occupational Therapy started at 1 year & 10 months

Xam

Xam

Male / 3 years & 9 months

Share the first part of Xam's story for readers on Sleuth! When and why did you start to feel concerned?

My pregnancy was fairly typical until my 20 week anatomy scan when they found I had placenta previa and Max had an echogenic bowel so I was referred to an maternal-fetal medicine doctor (MFM) for further testing and monitoring. The placenta previa corrected itself but the MFM doctor did a TORCH panel which did show that I had CMV antibodies so both the MFM and my OBGYN said I had already had CMV (most likely as a child) and everything was fine. Max was born in March 2018. He was 6lbs and 14oz with the sweetest little face. Max was also covered in a petechia rash on his face, shoulders, chest and back. I asked everyone from his OB to the pediatricians to the nurses about it and they all said it was from the traumatic birth, except his birth wasn’t traumatic at all- it was easy. Especially compared to his older brothers birth. Everything was fine until his one month appointment when I was told his head circumference had fallen off the growth chart. I was still told not to worry but Something inside me kept saying something wasn’t right Fast forward 4 months- we had been in and out of the pediatrician for constant feeding issues, extreme crying and tightness/rigidness in all 4 of Max’s limbs. Pediatrician continuously chalked it up to severe reflux as multiple people in our family have it as well- including Max’s big brother. We were referred to a GI who told us he didn’t think it was reflux but to keep his head circumference on our radar as it still hovered anywhere from the 1st-3rd percentile just depending.

Occupational therapy started at 0 years & 6 months

MyPerfectGirl

MyPerfectGirl

Female / 3 years & 9 months

Share the first part of MyPerfectGirl's story for readers on Sleuth! When and why did you start to feel concerned?

During pregnancy I barely felt her move. But scans always showed a healthy baby. At 3 months she was diagnosed with Plagiocephaly (flat head) while in hospital for a respiratory virus. So we were referees to to a neurosurgeon, who said it would correct itself and she was dismissed until 10 months when I emailed photos back to the neurosurgeon of how bad her head had gotten. They called us in for an urgent appointment the next day and she was diagnosed with brachycephaly (her head protruded severely on one side from laying on it all the time) and had to start helmet therapy. Other than that I was worried as she was not rolling or sitting like my first child had, so I’d been taking her to different general practitioners and 3 Physios, but everyone told me she was just lazy and overweight. The hard thing was, no one was linking the flat head to her inability to move. I felt like I was going crazy in this period. Finally, at about 11 months I took her to see an amazing paed listened to me, and as soon as he picked her up he said “she has low muscle tone” and diagnosed hypotonia and the diagnosis process started (genetics, referral for an MRI etc).

Occupational Therapy started at 1 year & 1 month

HankStrong

HankStrong

Male / 6 years & 7 months

Share the first part of HankStrong's story for readers on Sleuth! When and why did you start to feel concerned?

Hank was born in 2015. The (facebook) world was waiting as family and friends literally across the globe watched for the first picture. His birth was uneventful. Great APGARs and no problems. Our real story starts in August of 2015. Hank had failed his newborn hearing tests and his Audiology referrals had failed too. We had an ABR done and determined that Hank had total hearing loss in his left ear. She was really concerned because he had a small head and we had no family history of hearing loss.

Occupational Therapy started at 0 years & 9 months

LuckyJoJo

LuckyJoJo

Female / 1 year

Share the first part of LuckyJoJo's story for readers on Sleuth! When and why did you start to feel concerned?

Lucky started experiencing infantile spasms about 2 months ago, when she was just 3.5 months old. They were subtle movements that I only caught because 1. She is our first baby- so we stare at her all the time and 2. It was happening in a cluster. Prior to these spasms, Lucky seemed to be slow in reaching milestones (although she was still very young), but was healthy.

Occupational Therapy started at 0 years & 5 months

TT Bear

TT Bear

Male / 3 years & 8 months

Share the first part of TT Bear's story for readers on Sleuth! When and why did you start to feel concerned?

There are some hiccups early on that, in retrospect, were signs of the start of our journey. When TT was two month old, the pediatrician noted positional plageocephaly and torticolis. It was at this time that he began being followed by an orthotist and weekly PT. At six months the PT began using the words hypotonic and low tone to describe TT's muscles. At his six month well visit it was found he had only gained 4 ounces since his four month well visit. Up until that point he was exclusively breast fed. I immediately switch to bottle feeding (which was part of my plan anyway) and saw how little he was actually eating. After a couple weekly weight checks the pediatrician labeled TT failure to thrive (FTT), ran some preliminary blood work, and told us to schedule with GI and genetics.

Occupational Therapy started at 0 years & 9 months

LittleBear

LittleBear

Female / 4 years

Share the first part of LittleBear's story for readers on Sleuth! When and why did you start to feel concerned?

My child (last of 4) cried a lot. She was the epitome of colic. I exclusively breastfed her and constantly held her. I assumed her physical delays and speech delays were a result of the catering. It wasn't until we noticed her feet dragging a little that we realized we should have her evaluated. The physical therapist explained hypotonia/low muscle tone to us. Sadly, no one explained that it would be lifelong and the other delays that often come with it.

Occupational Therapy started at 2 years & 6 months

Zuzu

Zuzu

Female / 4 years & 10 months

Share the first part of Zuzu's story for readers on Sleuth! When and why did you start to feel concerned?

I distinctly remember leaving a message for my pediatrician after Zuzu's 8 month appointment because I had forgotten to mention that she wasn't babbling. She's my second child so I knew that the expression of noise was very different than babbling. My pediatrician said to "wait and see" and that maybe her bilingual environment contributed to some form of 'normal delay.' I took her advice and kept an eye on it. I got most concerned when Zuzu was 15 months old. A family member wondered why her face was asymmetrical and that tipped me over to decide to go to a neurologist. I was already aware - and concerned - that she was behind with walking and talking, and this seemed like yet another issue (incidentally, I didn't notice the asymmetry myself!) To be honest, I had somehow convinced myself that she probably had an issue but that the issue wasn't serious. After all, there are a thousand reasons why a child would be talking late and I figured it was mild. My mind didn't put all the symptoms together b/c I guess I was in denial about the bigger picture - it's hard to see that there's something wrong with your child. Eventually, by 18 months, I finally 'saw' that all these small concerns might actually add up to something more important that I had been missing.

Occupational Therapy started at 2 years & 6 months

J.

J.

Male / 5 years & 1 month

Share the first part of J.'s story for readers on Sleuth! When and why did you start to feel concerned?

When my son was born, I said, “His breathing sounds super-congested.” The doctor said, “Yeah, he probably swallowed a little amniotic fluid. Don't worry about it.” I saw his chest pulling in a little bit when he breathed, and I kept on questioning. (Now, I know those were called “retractions.”) They said, “Don't worry about it. That's normal.” He was born at 35 weeks. We knew that potentially at 35 weeks there could be some minor respiratory issues. But he was six pounds eight ounces. He looked great. His Apgar scores were really good. All the things that we use to measure the typical stuff were good. Then, my husband pointed out that he was not really responding the way our other son had responded 24 hours into being in the world. Bright lights weren't really making him squint. A bunch of things just weren't happening that we thought were normal. (My first son is a healthy, typically developing six year old now.) He also has what I call his “cute” ear, a malformed ear. That was something I also pointed out, and the doctor said, again, “Listen, your kid is healthy. Don't worry about it. He's okay.” My son was born in Jamaica because both my Husband and I had successful careers there. It was a private hospital with a reputation for great doctors. So we thought, “We got this. This is okay. We didn't need to come back to the U.S. to have a baby.” They transferred him to an ICU unit because of his breathing. He had a little jaundice. We were in the ICU unit for about a week. While we were there, I kept on asking questions: “You know, when he cries, I noticed his mouth is a little lopsided.” (“Don't worry about it, Mom. It's not a big deal”.) “His breathing is still a concern to me.” (“Don't worry about it. He doesn't need oxygen. His O2 is fine.”) He wasn't feeding well, and they said, “Well, sometimes with babies it just takes a little time for them to figure out feeding.” They discharged us from the ICU because they had more critical kids. They handed me a syringe and said, “Just keep squirting some milk in his mouth until he gets sucking under control, and head home.” I thought something doesn’t feel right. We went to our pediatrician, and he said, “Listen, I hear your concerns. I can refer you to any doctors you want. Yeah, his breathing looks a little off. Maybe he has something like a PDA (patent ductus arteriosus), which is very common in a lot of kids.” He sent us to a cardiologist who seemed to be rushing. She said, “He has a minor PDA. It's nothing to worry about.” My husband said, “Listen, this is actually good news. It's not like he has a major heart condition.” But again, something felt off. We went to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor). They said, “Everything looks great. His airway is perfectly normal.” I thought, okay! But again, he still wasn't feeding. We just kept on pushing and pushing. It was constant: “Mom, you're freaking out too much. There's nothing to worry about. It just takes time.” But while this was going on, he was losing weight. I could see it. I mean, I could see it. He was the most miserable baby as well. My other son was such a happy little baby. I know kids are different, but there was just something about it that didn't feel right.

Occupational therapy started

C.

C.

Male / 5 years & 2 months

Share the first part of C.'s story for readers on Sleuth! When and why did you start to feel concerned?

My son (nicknamed C.) is a sensory seeker. He's very active. At 18 months, he was constantly moving and doing a lot of physical activities that I didn't see other kids his age do. He also had an enormous amount of trouble self-soothing at night to go to sleep. He was having trouble going from a highly aroused state to a calm, relaxed state where he could fall asleep. We tried sleep training. We tried to do all the typical things that people tell you to do at that age. None of it worked. I just felt like something was off. Like there was something else going on. And when he would wake up in the middle of the night, which a lot of kids that age still do, he just couldn't go back to sleep. He was in a highly vigilant state, wide awake. It was at 18 months that I first mentioned this to his pediatrician. She said, “Well, his nervous system is still maturing. Let's see what happens”. As the months went on, and he started to walk, we noticed that it was like he had no sense of where he was. And then feeding challenges started: he was a really good eater until he wasn't. It was very dramatic. We felt like there might have been some sensory-related stuff going on with either what we were putting in his mouth or what he was seeing. We still struggle with feeding. I mean, it's gotten better. But picky eating was a big indicator of his condition. Then there was the activity level and the lack of focus. C. had a hard time staying focused on one activity. My son was born extremely premature at 24 weeks. Not everybody knows that 24 weeks is the line of viability. He was literally four days after the line. It was a very traumatic birth for him and also a traumatic labor for me. He was born weighing 705 grams. I'll tell you why I say it in “grams.” Because when they are born that early, every gram matters. They consider your probability of surviving partly based on the number of grams you weigh at birth. After he was born, all the nurses kept coming into the recovery room saying, “Oh my! He's 705 grams! Isn't that amazing?” There was like this celebration. He was a little bigger than normal for 24 weeks, but 705 grams is actually one pound and nine ounces. He was tiny. He fit in the palm of my hand. He was very, very small. He spent about five months in the NICU, and it was a very complicated NICU journey for him. Every child in the NICU has their own story. He was challenged with a host of medical issues that almost claimed his life, and also were potentially going to impact his development. When we came out of the NICU we were linked with Strong Start, which is Washington D.C.’s version of early intervention. We started Strong Start at about four months of age, if we correct his age for his premature birth, or eight months old from birth. We were working on some very basic things around gross motor skills, making sure he was moving his head right, that he was making eye contact, some of those typical infant developmental milestones. From the beginning, I had a sense of vigilance around potential delays in his development. In that respect, I think my story might be a little bit different than most families. I already had a heightened awareness that things were probably not going to be typical. The challenges that I had were really the struggles with the system. We knew C. was going to need a lot of therapy. We knew that he was potentially going to be diagnosed with a host of medical conditions that we couldn't predict in his early infant years. I was very proactive about it. But it was still very, very challenging to get the right services, to know who the right people were to talk to, to get coverage from insurance. I always tell people who have questions about what it is like to have a child who was born early or has special needs: this is all really hard. You have the typical challenges of raising an infant. And then you also are a medical coordinator, you’re an insurance advocate, and you're an expert at X, Y and Z diagnosis. You have a host of different hats that you have to put on every single day. The system is not always cut out to support you, right? It's almost the opposite. There are some days where I wake up feeling, “Okay, I'm in fight mode. Let's go!” I have to fight to get through the day, to be able to accomplish the things that my son needs in order to continue to develop and to thrive. That’s our overarching experience. He is now three years and seven months old. When you're born early, they use “corrected age” (based on the date you should have been born, so to speak, if you came to full term at 40 weeks) versus actual age for the first two years of life, because there is a developmental lag. The medical and school systems assume that by the time you are two years old, the child should have caught up, unless there's a major medical issue. Then after two years, you use only on the actual birthday so to speak. So he's actually three years and seven months from his day of birth.

Occupational therapy started at 2 years & 0 months

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