Monthly Archives: October 2016

Proper Appearance

I recently gave a question and answer session with lawyers and paralegals for disabilities awareness month and the gist of my talk had been don’t judge the individual based on the severity of the physical disability because most of the time the person’s intellectual state is intact.   I was saying this to my audience but I wasn’t believing myself because we have the ability to help the person to look “normal”.  We are able to construct a seating system that has the capabilities to support the individual in such a way so he or she is sitting up right so their little deformities are not that pronounce.   The child is able to wear braces to help deformities to correct themselves allowing the individual to look more like their able body peers.     While we want the rest of the society to learn how to except disabled people for who they are we can facilitate our clients at looking “normal”.

I don’t like using braces because the child will mostly not be able to tolerate being that restricted by the brace rather I like to construct seating system that will support the child adequately.   I will use braces to help a child to do transfers adequately and correctly.   The reason for my disliking braces is that they are so rigid that most of time they prevent the individual from moving freely and cause more pain than it is worth.   I want the children I work with to have the freedom to move and if a brace or a splint will pain them to obtain the mobility I will use a brace.   The children I see are quite physical disabled so more of the time they need good seating to help them to sit right to look like anyone else.

The reason we want our client to look like their able body peers is so hopefully their peers are able to look pass their disabilities and realize that the person inside the body is like them.  My clients are all “typically” developing but their type of Cerebral Palsy gave them severe physical disabilities which requires the occupational therapists and I to come up with positioning to make them look “normal”.   As occupational therapists and mentors we have the book knowledge and the experience to help our clients to look like their able body peers allowing the able body peers to look pass the disability to the person inside the body.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Constant Pain


I have older children who are in constant pain which sometime goes with the territory in high tone people and I have to figure a variety of equipment to help relieve pain.   I see this a lot more with my older clients as they are typically in their wheelchairs longer in the day due to school.   I try to make their seating to fit the individual exactly as to provide the individual the optimal support.   My older mentee is currently experiencing a lot of hip pain so I am having to figure out how to modify her wheelchair to support the hip better.   As a mentor with a lot of back pain myself I know the importance of proper support to a growing child to promote correct positioning and good health.

If an individual is in constant pain that is going to cause fatigue and weight loss which we don’t want as our clients are typically small.   I like to understand what type of pain it is and what brings the pain on and how I can counteract the pain.   If we are able to alleviate the pain I see the child being more active and able to concentrate on driving the power chair and communicating with the communication device better.   Children without the nagging pain are able to have a better appetite and are able to get stronger quicker.

Pain is inevitable for high tone people but we have tools and medicine to help the clients to be more comfortable.  Our job is to keep the client comfortable so they are able to achieve their therapy and academic goals.   I like to start with the most conventional solution such as extra padding to the seating then work my way up to the more extreme solutions.   I know on a real personal level that if someone is in pain they will not be able to move through therapy goals in a timely matter.   Once my client is back to being comfortable I am able to work with the occupational therapist on their therapy goals.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children


Customized Fitting

Customized seating is extremely important for a child to not only live a fully functional life but reduce their pain as well. Seating for my clients with Cerebral Palsy allows them to go about their day with adequate support to help prevent physical injuries. The individual can drive and use the communication device accurately if they are seated comfortably and correctly. As I have mentioned in the past blogs, I work with teenagers who are still growing so I have to find a seating system which will grow with the individual.
The individual must be comfortable, as they will spend most of the day in their chair so we don’t want the person to develop bed sores from their chair or create deformities in their body. As a mentor with a lot of back pain, I am able to bring a personal perspective to a child’s fitting and express to the team how the individual will be spending the majority of the day in their chair.
I look at the fit of the chair and if it allows them to do what they need it to throughout the day. As a controller, I want you to ask the client what feels comfortable and what they would change. I don’t like to use the mold seating, as I cannot easily adjust something. Instead, I use removable parts so I’m able to play with pieces throughout the seat until I have a custom fit. Tone will likely reduce if the individual is properly supported by the seating. The right seating can be the determinate factor for how often the client is in the hospital for reconstructive surgery or for extreme pain. My clients are not going through corrective surgeries due to the proper fitting of their chairs. You and I sometimes have the ability to keep our clients from needing corrective surgeries if we keep the individual in the correct position in the chair.

Until Next Time Enjoy Your Children

Team Work

As my followers know I have a lot of back pain and tone which is both helpful and harmful to my health. I am going through a test dose of the Baclofen pump to see if it will help the tone enough for me to have less muscle tone to help the pain but keep enough for me to still be able to stand and do the transfer that I have been able to do since I was a child. Team work is important for working with the client as it’s the clients who have to function with the decision we make for the client. Importance for the client to be comfortable with the decision we make. I always include the clients in the decision making as I am always the point person in my own care team. The o.t. and I take the opinion of our clients and make the decisions based on the client’s preferences and new so that they will have the equipment and positioning that they prefer.
I find that if I take the opinion of my mentees we can come out with better results from a session as I have had three people who had been able to put their two cents in the decision making. The team that I work with all understand that the clients are cognitively sound and they are able to make their own decisions and I am there to make sure the team remembers that the clients are their own persons. We have to remember that our clients are not puzzles that we have to solve but rather that they are a partner in the team who has the most important role in the team. I am constantly asking the opinion of my mentee as my own care team is always putting me in the center of the decision making. I understand that my own care team understands that I am a professional in their field and I understand more than the average patient, I want you to remember that even though our clients are not professionals that they still have opinions about whatever is going on around them.
Including the client in the decision process also ensures that they will use the equipment because if they don’t like the equipment the equipment will sit and collect dust. As professionals we have to respect our clients so that they will be more open to our ideas. We can blend the ideas of everyone and come out with a solution that pleases everyone. As professionals we have to remember that they have the inside answers that we are never going to have and it might hold the answers to a puzzle. You and I have the education for the job but the client holds the information about their bodies.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Generally Uncomfortable

Generally Uncomfortable
As occupational therapists and mentors we sometimes get children who are just uncomfortable because of their disabilities and are just generally uncomfortable no matter what we do. I unfortunately understand and can relate to these children as with my lower back problems I am uncomfortable all the time. When I am working with a child in this predict meant I put the person in an ultra-soft equipment that will help the uncomfortably and pain. If I am able to keep the individual comfortable I am able to accomplish more in therapy and the child is also able to stay healthy longer.
We have the equipment and the knowledge for using the equipment to best serve our purpose. I like to physically hold the child to understand what feels the most comfortable to them and I like to find a piece of equipment that is able to mimic the position of comfort. I have children who for the most part are little for their age so I am able to easily hold them to figure out a comfortable position for them. I find that when the occupational therapists and I are able to find a good and comfortable position, the individual is able to totally relax and they are able to get relief from the constant pain. I can relate to constant pain and being desperate to relieve the pain even for a short period of time.
As professionals we have the tools and the knowledge to help our clients to become more comfortable enabling them to do more in life. I will even put someone into a chair which allows the person to practically lie down if that is something they need to function properly in life. Being comfortable means less trips to the hospital and the emergency room and the hospital. It also means that the person is going to stay healthy for longer period in life so why not do it.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

   Families of Special Needs Children


As I went through my work e-mail there was an e-mail about the annual disabilities awareness evening which I work with my colleagues every October.  The first thought I had was how fast this year is going to be for us to be already talking about disabilities awareness week, but the second was about how far we are behind to need a disability awareness week.   As professionals we forget that the world is not emerge with disabilities as we are and there is a need for these kind of weeks.   We are the fortunate ones who get to work in the disability realm so we have disability awareness everyday when we go into work.   Communicating with communication devices is not out of the ordinary for us as it is to the outside world so we forget about the need for disabilities awareness week to understand our clients.

When I work these events with my colleagues we are typically asked how we can be sure it’s actually our clients communicating and not those just pushing buttons.   This question always makes us laugh as we know everyone’s personality comes out through communication which is different from one another so we know it is really the person who is picking what to say with their communication device.      I work with children to young adults and being someone who also uses a communication device this is just a way of life and it is cool to see the AAC through someone who is not at all familiar with the technology.   As professionals we also need to remember that we need to educate the outside world on this technology as it is still a fairly new concept to communicate with a mini device.

The more we professionals expose the mainstream society to communication devices the less different our clients will be to society.   Knowledge is really power in this situation and it will help our clients not be so different to their peers.   Communication is communication anyway a person does it and if someday I don’t have another event discussing communication devices and disabilities then I would have done a tenth of my job successfully.

Until next Time Enjoy Your Children

Games and Toys

Games and Toys
I work with children and teenagers who are appropriately still into toys and games so my job is to make these items accessible to them. I like to set up switches and different assistive technology to the toys to allow my clients to play with the toys independently. If our clients play with toys they start to perceive themselves as any other kid which helps them to understand that they are able to do anything they set their mind on. The toys that allow them to play independently also gives the child their first taste of independence which hopefully will lead to them wanting more of as they get older.
Being young I am able to remember when my occupational therapist did this for me so I know how important it is for my clients to be able to play and manipulate the toys themselves. Playing is a natural part of childhood and I want my clients to have every aspect of childhood. My clients like any other child will pick out a toy with their family and we get the toy and adapt to it so they are able to independently play with the toy. The occupational therapist and I would complete the adaptation with the client with us so they can tell us how it should be played and so they are able to take it home the same day.
Children with significant physical disabilities are not any different from able bodied children, they want the same latest toys and they want to be able to play with them with friends. This concept of adapting toys is not new as my occupational therapist had done the same thing for me when I had been little. My mentees are going to be able to experience a “typical” childhood and in turn envision themselves doing the normal stages as they grow up. We have the knowledge and the power to plant the seed that they are “normal” and are capable of accomplishing the same things as their ability body peers.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children