For many months, from when Cohen was a baby and now again recently, I have wondered about sensory issues with him. When he was a baby, he didn't know how to regulate himself or calm himself down. He was always out in what we called "airplane mode" with his arms straight out waving around seemingly seeking input. We made great strides with his OT and things got way better.
Now, over the last few months, I have continued to wonder if he still has some of these sensory issues. He is a busy boy and I hear lots of "Oh, he's a boy, boys are busy" or "Yeah, my child is busy too". And yes, I definitely think that some of it is that he is just a boy who just has a lot of things to do. But sometimes it seems like a different kind of busy that is hard to explain.
When we went in to OT yesterday, she asked me where I thought we were at. I told her I was happy with how Cohen was doing overall but that I was still struggling with knowing the difference between a regularly busy baby and one who was busy but there seemed to be something else going on. I told her how he will sit in his swing for hours perfectly content. He also still likes to be in his crib in the dark or in contained places. She suggested that he may still in fact have some problems with his vestibular system.
The vestibular system "contributes to balance in most mammals and to the sense of spatial orientation, is the sensory system that provides the leading contribution about movement and sense of balance." (From Wikipedia). We have suspected for awhile that Cohen may be having issues with this and we decided that he probably still is. This would explain why he took so long to walk when we felt he had the ability to do it but was hesitating. It also explains why he walks so cautiously and only about 50% of the time. It also makes more sense why he hates being laid down to have his diaper changed or get dressed (yes, some of this is normal for a baby his age) but he fights us greatly as we lay him down. This also explains why he loves to be in his swing, he is upright and gets to have the sensory input. When Susan tried to lay him in a hammock to swing him, he acted panicked because he wasn't upright but at more of an angle or laying down. This vestibular system also is part of his sensory system and could explain why he seems to so constantly be seeking input. His little system isn't quite processing the movements and positions in space the way it should be.
And of course, this all goes back to Cohen being a preemie. The vestibular system develops later on in pergnancy, after most preemies are already born. Add to that the constant stimulation of lights, noise, not getting the "squish time" inside, the tubes, wires, needles, etc and you have one overstimulated baby struggling to make sense of the world he isn't supposed to be in yet.
The pieces just seemed to fall into place. There was something that just seemed off. Nothing overly dramatic, but just different. I felt validated when Susan acknowledged that yes, he does seem to have these lingering vestibular/sensory problems. It's nothing that can't be fixed and most likely won't be lifelong. Just one of those preemie things, I suppose.