According to the occupational therapist, 'core strength' is, well, core. And OB doesn't have enough of it.
This was one of many things that came up during the assessment - you can read the rest in my first post about the results of the assessment - but I thought it deserved more than a passing reference as it's a whole different kettle of fish from his sensory quirks.
Most of you will know that I have had OB on and off since he was a very small baby. He first came to me at four and a half months old. We had a rocky 'on and off' period after that before he came back to stay at 13 months. While this is wonderful in too many ways to list here, it does mean that sometimes I have a wave of self-doubt about his 'early childhood' which, after all, was mostly spent with me.
Core strength is one of those areas. I had read that poor core strength in children tends to be caused because they were left lying down too much as babies. Well, OB spent most of his babyhood with me, so I immediately felt the guilt rush in. Did I leave him lying down too much? Was he not rocked enough? I cast my mind back and felt awful about every moment he spent in his cot or on his back on his playmat. I bitterly regretted not trying harder with 'tummy time' despite it being such a trial for him.
However, the OT explained to me that core strength starts with neck strength; that from a child's earliest moments, each gentle movement, rock and sway lays the foundations for good neck strength, which in turn is the foundation for good core strength. If he was left lying around for prolonged periods in his first few weeks and months, not rocked enough, not cuddled or carried enough, then he wasn't developing his neck strength. It started in his first weeks and months. Including 18 weeks when I didn't even know him.
Core strength is the foundation on which limb strength and gross and fine motor skills are laid. No wonder tummy time for OB consisted of him repeatedly bashing his face on the carpet until I took pity on him and picked him up. Crawling builds core strength, but is difficult if you're not strong enough already. OB sat at 8 months, crawled at 9, stood at 10, walked at 11. As the OT said, why bother prolonging the crawling stage when standing is far less hard work.
None of this is the end of the world. OB can sit, walk, run, skip and, recently, hop and Heely. It's all good. What it means is that he has rotten seating posture, an erratic gait and a tendency to occasionally fall off things and over things. His balance isn't brilliant, which doesn't help with the bike riding. He absolutely looks the part at football and his dribbling skills are coming along, but if he has to kick the ball with any force, it's best to take cover as it could go in any direction! Thankfully, it doesn't tend to go too far. I suspect this is what also lies behind his decidedly pigeon-toed approach to walking and running.
If we weren't having the OT assessment anyway, most of this would probably never have come to light. I suspect OB would have gone on to live a long and happy life none the wiser, although a career as a Premiership footballer might have been out of the question. But, as we do now know, we'll set to work on the exercise sheet we've been given and see where it takes us. Probably not the Premiership still, but you never know!