This is DS; he’s 4 years old, will start school in September and is funny, cheeky and sweet. He also needs a hair cut.
DS has verbal dyspraxia, which means his speech is not great, but Speech Therapy has helped him a lot. We made the decision to send him to the mainstream school his sisters go to and have been awarded a statement for 17.5 hours per week, one to one help for him.
Apart from his speech, DS is a normal 4 year old. He likes cars and trains, and drawing and cutting. He likes running around and climbing, but he does fall over a lot. He looks a bit pigeon toed and often complains about being tired when we take him out walking the dogs. I’ve noticed this for a couple of years and have mentioned it to a couple of health professionals, but no one has seemed that interested. Everyone has been more interested in his poor speech.
A couple of months ago, he did his falling over thing in front of the speech therapist. ‘Does he do that often?’, she asked. I told her he did it once a week or so, and so we got a referral to the pediatric Occupational Therapist department of our local hospital.
We had the appointment on Wednesday this week. The OT was lovely and DS breezed through the fine motor skills and visual-spatial assessment. He tackled the gross motor skill part enthusiastically, although went a bit wobbly and uncoordinated when he was asked to balance and jump with both feet together. The O/T thought he looked flat-footed and started talking about exercises he could do to build his arches up.
She disappeared to get some paperwork, and came back with a physiotherapist instead. He was lovely and before long DS was allowing him to take off his shoes and socks again; he’s often a bit funny about this. The physio examined DS’s joints, bent them this way and that and said that DS had Hypermobility Syndrome. This means his joints are bendier than those of most children his age and so are not very stable; this explains his flat feet, his falls and his frequent complaints about having sore legs. Because he does tell us his legs hurts, frequently.
We’ve always brushed it off as ‘moaning’ and jollied him along, but apparently it’s not. He has probably been in quite a bit of pain, as people with Hypermobility Syndrome are prone to severely aching joints and muscles. We even ditched his buggy at the age of two as he seemed such a good walker. Looking back at things, he couldn’t actually talk at that age, so he wasn’t able to tell us when his legs hurt. How bad do I feel?
But now he’s been diagnosed, he’s on the books. He has wee inserts in his shoes to support his arches and is tolerating them well. He wore them all day today without complaint; hopefully they will help him move more easily and fall over less. We will get a list of exercises to do with him, and will revisit the OT/ Physio in October to see how he’s doing. A friend who has a son with HS has told us that Nurofen is the best pain relief for HS pain, so we’ll make sure we always have some to hand.
The hospital will write to the school and let them know of his additional diagnosis and the physiotherapist reassured us that HS will place very few restrictions on DS’s life. It’s best he steers clear of sports and activities that place too much stress on his joints, so he’ll have to give ballet a miss. He’s already tried gymnastics and funnily enough didn’t like it.
I guess the moral of this post is go with your gut feeling when it comes to something being ‘not right’ with your child. I felt the same way about his speech; when everyone was telling me I was just overreacting to having a boy after 3 girls, I knew there was something wrong.
Likewise, I watched DS fall over too many times without insisting on seeing someone. I should have done something sooner.