The common refrain on parenting blogs and mommy message boards is "Don't compare kids." For the most part, I do ok with not comparing my kids to other in the same age range. Unfortunately, I'm not so good about not comparing them to each other.
Charlie wasn't an early crawler, but he started army crawling and then "real" crawling right before 8 months, which is pretty typical (thank you, blog, for keeping adequate records of my kid and his accomplishments). Em, on the other hand, wasn't interested. She was a bump on a log for the longest time, until she figured out how to roll. Once she mastered that, somewhere around 8 months, she started rolling from one end of the room to the other in order to get her hands on things. I thought that crawling had to be the next logical step, and anxiously awaited her to discover her newfound freedom. 9 month milestone came and went, and it didn't happen. We talked it over with her pediatrician at her 9-month check-up, and based on her lack of crawling combined with her late rolling, we left with a referral to an Early Intervention specialist.
The team of therapists came over to evaluate Em a few weeks later. By that time, she had progressed to dragging herself around using her arms. They put her through her paces, testing all areas of gross and fine motor skills, verbal skills, social skills - or as much as you can for a 9 monther, anyway. In the end, they decided that her gross motor skills were delayed, and we started a weekly PT regimen.
After her first appointment, they determined that she still had the lean-back reflex (the technical term is escaping me right now) that usually disappears around 4 months. The general issue was that she didn't have a good sense of where she was in the world, spatially. When she leaned forward, or shifted her weight to the front of her body, she felt like she was falling over and immediately shifted back. So she wasn't crawling properly because when she shifted her weight to her arms (like in a proper plank position) her head fell forward and she tipped over. When we stood her up, she leaned back, and when we tried to hold her in the proper standing position she immediately went onto her toes, which is something we had noticed a while back. They said it's a problem when babies don't get enough tummy time, and that jumperoos and exersaucers make the problem worse, because it encourages them to lean back. So yay for that.
We did make some fast progress, working on baby planks and baby cobra holds, and Em was crawling like a champ within a few weeks. Many of the exercises that we were told to do are outlined in great detail in this slide show that I found on the internet. Isn't technology great?
Since the big leap forward with crawling, progress has been slow. The next big step was to get her up in a "high kneeling position," which she has now mastered. We've since moved on to the big things, getting her upright and standing so that she can eventually learn to walk. Her core muscles are still weak and tight, so she does her exercises on a yoga ball. I have a love/hate relationship with the PT - I know it's really good for her, but she hates it. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaates it. There's lots of crying because she works so hard during the sessions. The last session was especially difficult, and I came out of it feeling really crappy about the whole situation. But then every once in a while she'll surprise us, like when we turned around a few nights ago to see her standing up at her play table! I think she was just as surprised as we were.
We have PT again, today, and I'm looking forward to more small steps toward catching up with those other daycare babies who are currently (literally) running circles around her :)