This is an entry for our bloggy friend, Barbara's, blog carnival based on the American Occupational Therapy Association's (AOTA) 2012 theme, Building Skills for Life.
The first 3 years of Bertrand's life, we were so desperate to do everything and anything to help our son that we didn't take time to prioritize our activities with him. The birth of our daughter, Victoria, harkened a paradigm shift. We could no longer waste time doing therapy for therapy's sake. Therapy had to provide a measurable benefit for Bertrand.
We shifted our focus to building skills for life. We had to evaluate, cut back, and in very few cases add therapy. To everyone's astonishment, Bertrand is flourishing! It's obvious in hindsight, but we learned that doing a few things intensively and consistently yields better results than doing many things sporadically.
The October and December intensive therapy sessions at Now I Can, while valuable in and of themselves, forced us to consider what and how we provided for Bertrand at home. (He has me wrapped around his little finger, so Mrs-Tough-Mommy-Therapist, I am not.) We hired two WONDERFUL therapeutic aides for Bertrand--Miss A and Miss V--to implement the significant at-home exercise programs which was prescribed. Together we established a few goals.
Goal number one: sitting safely. Bertrand could sit upright when placed on the floor, but because of his movement disorder, he would fall over and hurt himself. Now, he keeps one arm down, braced on the floor, or reaches down to brace himself. He rarely falls! This was a continuation of his work with Now I Can.
Goal number two: self-feeding. Bertrand was still being fed soft foods and a baby bottle for most meals. So for every meal, even though it would be faster or easier to do it for him, we helped Bertrand hold his own bottle. And now? He can hold his own bottle for most of the meal!
In this same vein, he is made to hold his spoon to feed himself his applesauce snack in the afternoons and we've varied the textures in his dinner--expanding his palate. None of this goes smoothly. It is messy. At the start, he is unhappy, BUT he does it. And he is getting better! Every. Single. Day. You can see his growing pride and initiative reflected in his beautiful smiles!
Other broad, lofty goals include: mobility (walking, power wheelchair), potty training, and communication (speaking, reading). WHY NOT? Hopefully, we've got some time with him. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Yes, these are skills for Bertrand's life, but they are also skills for our family life. The more interactive and happier Bertrand becomes, the happier we ALL are. :)