Henry’s favorite part about PT is getting to go on the trampoline. If we walk past it he gets so excited and wants to stop whatever he is doing to get on it. We are teaching him that he needs to finish his activity first and then we will go and play on it. Once we are ready to get on the trampoline his therapist will assist him up the stairs and then they climb through the netting. When he is comfortably on the trampoline, he will stand up on his own – this move alone is good strength building as he is bending over and due to the weight distribution it is at an angle and not a flat surface – once he is standing, he will run from one side to the other screaming with joy. Little does he know, that this is actually helping with his balance. As we all know, walking (let alone running) on a trampoline can be quite difficult as it’s not a sturdy surface, so for Henry to be running across it helps him learn control and balance. It also helps me stay relaxed because if he does fall, he doesn’t hurt himself. The therapist will be on the trampoline with him and they also practice jumping and falling down. Being only 16 months he obviously is not able to actually jump on his own, but his therapist does say that it is good for muscle memory and keeping the knees flexible.
Core Strength and Arm Flexibility:
His therapist is aware of his many falls lately and we are currently working on building up his muscles and reflexes to help him protect himself. This past Tuesday we worked on building up his stomach/core muscles. She informed me that these muscles are just as important for him to protect himself because they will help him regain his balance if he feels he is losing it and can help him control the way his body falls. To build up his stomach muscles we have him straddle a decent size cushioned cylinder, reach across one side of his body, pick up a toy, and then have him put the toy in a box on the opposite side of his body. This helps build the muscles because he is not able to use his hips to turn but only use his core muscles, and then having him bend down and come back up (again using just his stomach muscles) is truly a workout for him. This activity is also helping his arm/shoulder range and flexibility. Again, this will help him learn how to catch himself because if his reflexes and left arm are able to move quicker and at a larger range he might be able to protect his head more.
Achievements & Goals:
As we were finishing up our session and were making our way to walk out, Henry saw a little playhouse with 3 stairs, a tunnel, and a slide. He immediately let go of my hand and walked straight over to it. Neither his therapist or I stopped him because we wanted him to explore on his own and see what he was going to do. He put his right hand on the stair rail, walked up 3 stairs on his own, tried to crawl through the tunnel (this he did need assistance), and then scooted to the slide and went down perfectly. We were both so proud of him, one for being able to climb up 3 stairs by himself and correctly, but also for initiating crawling through the tunnel! It was such a great feeling and I gave him such a big hug and kiss, which prompted him to do it 2 more times. It was just amazing to see him walk up the stairs correctly and see him able to keep his balance when he went down the slide and not just fall backwards. Such an awesome way to end the session.
Our current goals at PT are to get him to walk up more stairs confidently, come down stairs, squat bending both knees, and for him to get better at catching himself when he falls.
We got Henry’s evaluation report back this past Tuesday. Nothing in the report concerned us and everything seemed to be as we thought. He was little behind on the physical aspects, but that’s to be expected. We are currently working on having Henry follow directions, taking turns, and two word sentences. Henry knows approximately 20 words. Some are very clear and there is no doubt or question as to what he is saying, however, there are some words that are a little more difficult to understand. And I know this is common in all children. The developmental specialist has zero concerns over his expressive language as of right now, because to my knowledge, it’s quite common for kids with CP to have to do some type of speech therapy. But in all honesty, I did speech therapy as a child and I know many kids that do it who don’t have CP.
Lately, Henry has been trying to say different words that have a stronger more defined ending to the word like bird, boat, and out. These words are proving to be a little more difficult for him and he is not saying the ending. For instance instead of saying “out” he is saying “ou” or instead of “bird” he is saying “bir” and “boa” instead of “boat”. I brought this up to our specialist’s attention to see if there are any activities that we can do to help him pronunciate the ending of these words. She suggested that we have him look at us and keep eye contact when we say the word. By doing this he will watch how to pronounce the word and hopefully start mimicking it himself. The problem with Henry is that he is very stubborn and likes to do things on his own time. You can ask him 10 times in a row to say a word and he’ll just smile at you, and then the moment you give up and turn around he’ll say it. Typical.
Our current goals in regards to his developmental/cognitive milestones is to have him follow directions, have him start cleaning up after himself, ask specifically for objects, and to start saying 2 word sentences. The 2 word sentences are more advanced and we were informed that they expect a toddler to be able to do this by the age of 2 but starting it with Henry now and trying to get the ball rolling is our goal.
Henry has made some great improvements with his left hand/arm thanks to OT. Also the older he is getting the more he is tarting to realize he can do more when he uses both hands. We still have a long way to go in regards to his fine motor skills and getting his hand more fluid. We have also noticed that he isn’t using his left arm as much. For instance, most toddlers his age will begin to collect toys and objects by using their arms to store them. Henry will only use his hands. So if he is holding 2 objects he believes that is the max amount he can carry. He is not aware that he can carry more objects with his arm. So right now one of our goals is to get him to start carrying bigger objects to he realizes that his left arm can be beneficial.
One of my favorite stores is IKEA. I love it. Specially when I’m getting things for Henry’s room and playroom because if damages or draws on them it’s not the end of the world because we didn’t pay an arm and leg for it. Anyway, at the kid section they have these HUGE stuffed animals and pillows. Well my husband always has to buy him one whenever we go. The first one he bought for Henry was before he was even born, it was a big basketball cushion. So the reason all that information is important, is because we have started trying to play catch with Henry. Henry loves playing with balls and he gets to so excited whenever my husband plays with him. Now again, he is only 16 months so it’s not actually catch, but my husband will count to 3 (Henry is a few feet away from him) and then he will gently toss the pillow basketball at him to catch. There are times where he will miraculously catch the basketball and other times where it bounces off his head and Henry runs away laughing. This is really great therapy because Henry is learning that in order to catch such a big object he has to use his arms and hands and can’t just depend on his hands.
After his last therapy session his OT therapist was very happy to see that Henry was willingly playing with his left hand. There were many times she didn’t even need to hold back his right hand and he would just play with whatever toy was coming his way. We have therapy again this Monday so it’ll be interesting to see if she notices any difference in the use of his arm.
The K.E.N. Project & Brandon Buddies
I did some research on support groups for parents or kids with mild CP and I stumbled across a website and organization called The K.E.N. Project and Brandon’s Buddies. The K.E.N. Project stands for Kids with Exceptional Needs. They have a large support group, advocacy training, parent training and volunteer opportunities. They have meetings once a month in Culver City and in Woodland Hills on Wednesday evenings from 7p.m. – 9p.m. I am definitely going to try and attend one of these meetings located in Woodland Hills. I think it would be great to go, see what it is about, hopefully meet some new people, and just get some more information on how I can be the best advocate for my son.
Brandon’s Buddies is a free kids club that meets every month at Brandon’s Village at Gates Canyon Park in Calabasas. It is for all kids with or without disabilities. It is usually held on the first Saturday every month. So my husband and I have decided to check it out on December 1st. I think we both would love to meet and interact with other families who are going through similar situations. I’m excited to have found these two pages and to learn more about different ways I can help. I’ve listed a link to both The K.E.N. Project and Brandon’s Buddies.
The K.E.N. Project: https://www.kenproject.com/who-we-are
Brandon’s Buddies: https://www.kenproject.com/brandons-buddies/