Our community education department is trialing a new program with high school volunteers to be buddies with kids who need extra support. Special-needs parents probably look at that community education catalog and think, "I wish I could sign my child up for that, but it probably wouldn't go well." I used to get upset about it, then I would realize that my kids don't want to be left in a class without support, so they weren't asking me to sign them up. I didn't worry about it too much. Then came the announcement for the Angry Birds Art class, 4 weekly sessions after school. It sounded right up Herbie's alley! He loves Angry Birds and he loves art. What could be better? In a discussion with some other parents, I commented about how I would love to be able to sign him up. There happened to be someone there who could do something about it who told me to go ahead and register him. I almost wished that I hadn't said anything, I didn't want to set Herbie up for a bad experience. But I went ahead with it, and we got our high school buddy. She has very little experience with kids or special needs, but she has a heart of gold and wants to make this work. It is obviously a high-interest activity, so I am not hugely worried about him not wanting to participate. I mainly wanted him to feel supported and to have an extra set of hands to intervene if he got off track or tried to bolt. And so far, so good! I love seeing his little projects and how excited he is to show them to me. It is awesome that this teenage girl can commit a few hours of her time and make such a huge difference for a child and his family!
It has been six weeks since the Wise Old Owl broke his leg. He initially had a full-leg cast. Then, eleven days ago, he got his cast off and switched to a walking boot. Give it a few days, the orthopedist said, he'll be running around, they always get right back into action. I tried to explain that he had a motor planning disorder and I wasn't so sure, but she was very confident. This is the problem of seeing a specialist who is only looking at one aspect of my child. Although we've been in the facility for an hour and a half, we only get 10 minutes with the orthopedist. All she knows about is bones, not motor planning. So off we were whisked with our walking boot. Eleven days later, he's still not walking.
I've been playing phone tag with the clinic all week. Finally, we got a walker today. I requested it to help him transition from the wheelchair to using his legs again. The nurse on the phone initially sounded concerned that he would need more x-rays and evaluations, kids always walk after getting their casts off. Didn't you hear me say he needed intensive PT to learn how to walk in the first place? Even with absolutely nothing physically wrong with him? She thinks perhaps there is something wrong in how it has healed. Of course I can't say for sure that there is not, but I what I think I really need is someone to help me teach him how to walk. So she says she'll write up orders for the walker so our insurance will cover it, but to call in a week if he's not walking.
So now we have a walker. Who knew they made them so small?? A friend saw it and suggested we put some tennis balls on it, helping me find humor in the midst of my frustration. He seems to like the walker, he managed it pretty well at the library and Walgreens. So we are on the road to re-learning to walk, finally. But I am still wondering, why this huge set-back? He had made such tremendous progress in his motor skills, and now we are back 3 years, or that's what it feels like. I hope the trade-off in improved social skills was worth it. But right now I can't stop thinking that keeping up with all the kids on the playground helps with social skills, too.
Note: I typically leave posts in my draft box for awhile before hitting publish. So after I wrote this, I suddenly found myself humming a song by Sixpence None the Richer - the one called "Trust." It's stuck in my head, probably not by accident. So that is the answer to my worries, He's got it under control. I think I'll go find the CD of that song, which I haven't listened to in years, it's a good one. The song is based on Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Do not lean on your own understanding...easier said than done, but here goes.
For years I feel like speech therapists have been telling me to work on greetings with the Owl. Say hello when you see him in the morning, say good bye when you go upstairs for a minute, intentionally greet everyone you interact with all day, prompt him to say these things, too, or at a minimum to wave. I went through spurts of heeding this advice. It gets old, so I admit that I'd given up on it lately because there are plenty of other things to think about. But all of the sudden, he is saying good-bye to everyone. His teachers at school, his buddies from social skills group, the receptionist at the OT clinic, even me when I just go upstairs for a minute. And it's not just one good bye, it's 7 or 8 in a row. It is super cute and made me stop to realize what a great achievement that is for him, especially after I had let it slide to the bottom of his list of goals. We still need to get him to say hello without maximum prompts, but I am inspired to really work on that again!