Giving Thanks for What the Children Can Do

As Speech-language pathologists, Occupational therapists, and Mentors, we have the responsibility of reminding the parents of our clients that they still have something to give thanks for. They have children who are capable of communicating with the communication devices, when they may not have had this opportunity if they were living in a third world country. Communication allows the children to be in general classes and to have “typical” lives which is something to give thanks for this holiday season. As a team we work together to make sure that the clients are correctly positioned to be able to access the communication device and the controls to drive their power chairs without injuring themselves.

The children are then able to do the “typical” activities that their peers are participating in; such as sports and being in general classes. Communicating allows children to demonstrate knowledge and to call out plays in a sports game. The ability to communicate with a talker allows the individual to call out a move to their teammates while driving the power chair to play. If the families seek out various therapies when their children are at the pre-school age they are going to be able to be active at an early age. This teaches the child that anything they want to do is possible if they want it badly enough and work at achieving it. I believe that if the child can be pushed at an early age that they are going to learn that certain aspirations are expected of them from the family, the IEP team and eventually from themselves. The children who understand this from the age of seven will go farther in life than the children who never understand this concept; I know as I have worked with both types of attitudes.

The families with significantly physically disabled children must remember to give thanks for their children’s unique abilities and thanks to their custom-made equipment allowing them to be children. The children I work with have a full school day and games or practice on weekends. The assistive technologies that we work with them on independently operating, allows them to grow up doing normal kids’ activities while earning a high school diploma which the families should be thankful for this holiday season. As for us professionals we should be thankful that we are able to help our clients to reach their full potential with the help of assistive technologies.

 

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Disabilities Awareness Month

It’s that time of year again; it’s Disability Awareness Month! Although spreading awareness is fantastic, it shouldn’t be necessary. If the world understood that assistive technology enables disabled children to be on the same playing field as other children their ages. Communicating for disabled children catapults them into mainstream society at an early age, so that general education is all the child knows. Disabled children are starting at the toddler age with communicating and driving power wheelchairs allowing them to interact with their peers. This also leads to their abled bodied peers understanding at a young age that their disabled peers are no different from them.

As a result, disabled students are going to be able to discuss their interests and hobbies just like their abled bodied students. Disabled students get the opportunity to discuss how they are also required to do the same graduation requirements as they do to move on to the next grade. The students discuss how they are capable of completing their homework by being able to access the computers with their communication devices. The abled bodied students are able to understand that their disabled peers are just as bright and capable as they are with the academics.

We professionals come into the schools to educate the pupils on the technical aspect of the equipment and how each person can access it. Being a quadriplegic, my part of the “professional” presentation is to discuss how communicating with the devices is no different from talking with their natural voices. I also talk about, how the students can use their quick phrases to demonstrate that they can communicate at a natural level of speed. The occupational therapist and I will then switch gears to discuss how power chairs allows the student to get to class independently as they would if they were walking to class. In Disabilities Awareness Month, we also recognize Diverse Abilities Week. It is my personal goal for the next two generations after ours, to not have to require a Diverse Abilities Week, as our society would hopefully understand that disabled people are just like them.

  • Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Driving to Independence

In light of October being Disabilities Awareness month, this blog is going to discuss independence. As occupational therapists and mentors, we have the methodology to help our clients to learn how to drive a power chair or work a control switch. The children I work with, start learning how to drive a power chair at the age of three years old, in the hope that they will be able to drive independently by the age of seven. The ability to move one’s self around by the age of seven, teaches the children despite their disabilities, they are still able to move independently.

If they are able to get from one place to another, they’ll be able to meet aides in different classes by themselves; which helps them blend in more with the general crowd. Driving themselves also gives a child the opportunity to walk to classes with their peers instead of an adult, which can help build their confidence.

All of my mentees are in general classes which means that as much as possible, they will be able to drive independently to classes. The children that I work with are able to give driving demonstrations to their peers during their school’s Disabilities Awareness week. They are able to talk in front of their classes about how driving a power chair is not that much different from walking. As occupational therapists and mentors we are able to give that freedom and independence to our clients.

 

-Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Independence

In light of October being Disabilities Awareness month, this blog is going to discuss independence. As occupational therapists and mentors, we have the methodology to help our clients to learn how to drive a power chair or work a control switch. The children I work with, start learning how to drive a power chair at the age of three years old, in the hope that they will be able to drive independently by the age of seven. The ability to move one’s self around by the age of seven, teaches the children despite their disabilities, they are still able to move independently.

If they are able to get from one place to another, they’ll be able to meet aides in different classes by themselves; which helps them blend in more with the general crowd. Driving themselves also gives a child the opportunity to walk to classes with their peers instead of an adult, which can help build their confidence.

All of my mentees are in general classes which means that as much as possible, they will be able to drive independently to classes. The children that I work with are able to give driving demonstrations to their peers during their school’s Disabilities Awareness week. They are able to talk in front of their classes about how driving a power chair is not that much different from walking. As occupational therapists and mentors we are able to give that freedom and independence to our clients.

 

  • Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Independence

In light of Disabilities Awareness Month this blog is going to discuss independence. As occupational therapists and mentors we have the capability of helping a client learn how to drive a power chair or work a switch to drive the chair. The children I work with start learning how to drive the power chair at the age of three in hopes that they will be able to drive independently at the age of seven. The ability to move one’s self around by the age of seven teaches the child that even though they are disabled they are still able to move independently.

As occupational therapists and mentors we have the ability to help children to learn how to drive the power chair. If they are able to get from one place to another they are going to be able to meet different aides in different classes by themselves which helps them blend in more with the general crowd. Driving themselves also gives a child the opportunity to walk to classes with their peers instead of an adult.

All of my mentees are in general classes which means that as much as it is possible we want them to drive independently to classes. The children I work with are able to give driving demonstrations to their peers on disabilities awareness week. They are able to talk in front of their classes about how driving a power chair is not that much different from them walking. As occupational therapists and mentors we are able to give that freedom and independence to our clients.

 

Until Next Time, Your Children

Lower Back Pain

Communication shouldn’t give someone back pain, if it does that means that they have the incorrect device .    As I have discussed I have used the inappropriate communication device for five years which has given me severe back problems.   A  communication device should not hurt to use as over time the child can develop chronic pain in the body part they are accessing with.   The child needs to be comfortable while using the communication device and if they aren’t comfortable we need to change it immediately.   The act of communicating should feel natural and comfortable .

The correct device should be easy to use right when it’s provided to the individual, and that is actually  possible as we had tried a new device with myself and it immediately worked.   Children shouldn’t  have to injure themselves to communicating.   I want all of my clients to be comfortable while talking so they will want to communicate.   Communicating will  allow the individual to demonstrate knowledge with little effort and hopefully without pain.

As a professional who has used the inappropriate communication device for five years and have hurt myself using it,  the child needs to be comfortable while using the device.  Children are not  like adults they don’t have thematurity to work with something which hurts their bodies and they will just stop talking.   We have the responsibility to find the right device for every individual and once we do,  we can sit back and watch them thrive.

 

Until Next Time,  Enjoy Your Children

Customized Everything

As occupational therapists and mentors we want to customize everything because that is how the child is able to properly function in life. A child with Cerebral Palsy or disabilities like that will work better if everything is tailor made for their needs. To make everything specifically for the child allows the child to be supported accurately and hopefully we are able to prevent injuries. As occupational therapists and mentors we have the assistive technologies to make this possible. We want the child comfortable in every equipment they use so they are comfortable in every piece of equipment that they use throughout the day.

As a mentor with a lot of back problems I look at everything from the seating system to how they are using the talker and if he or she is struggling. If it is a minor adjustment then we know the talker is a right fit for the child but if we have done everything and the person is still struggling then it’s time to move on to the next device. As I have mentioned in my last blog using the inappropriate communication device can have lasting consequences on the child. The child should be at ease using the talker and the power chair because that hard repetition of the movement is going to give the child a long-lasting injury. We want the child at ease while using the communication device and the power chair.

As someone who has injured their back while using the inappropriate communication device for several of years I don’t want a child to suffer as I used to with an equipment. The child should be at ease communicating and driving the power chair. The child needs to type easily because all we want him or her thinking about is what they are doing for school or for fun. The equipment needs to become invisible and the child just needs to do what they need to do and if that isn’t the case we need to change something to make it the case.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Hurting

My mentees are always hurting from tight muscles, so to help them I do a multitude of things to get them to relax and ease the pain. I put them into tumble foams that relaxes the muscles and I use a mix of conventional and unconventional treatments to help children feel more comfortable. Children need to feel comfortable throughout the day in order to be able to accomplish more within the day. Families who are open to using topical Marijuana have a better chance of seeing their children more relaxed and comfortable throughout the day. As occupational therapists and mentors, we are able to move their bodies easier if they are relaxed and not in pain. The alternative medicine helps them to feel more comfortable allowing us to move their bodies more frequently to where we need them to be.

For example, we know children with Cerebral Palsy are usually smaller size, when they are more relaxed, I am able to practice driving their power chair with them for a longer amount of time. Children who are more comfortable are also able to show us which body part works the best for them. We want to find a balance between them being tight enough to sustain their weight during transfers but loose enough to be comfortable throughout the day. If children are constantly in pain they aren’t eating or sleeping well, which results in a whole set of problems for them. Some seizures are caused by bursts of pain; which leaves us with no other option, except rush them to the hospital.

A child that is comfortable is less likely to experience seizures. One of my fellow colleagues, knew a child who was having twenty seizures a day and when the family gave her medical Marijuana, the amount of seizures that she was experiencing declined dramatically (five or less seizures a day). Sometimes thinking out of the box is the key to helping a child feel more at ease. The most important thing we can do for a child is to keep them comfortable which allows them to do what they need to do throughout their day.

  • Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Hurting

My mentees are always hurting from tight muscle so to help them I do a multitude of things to help them to relax and ease the pain. I put them into tumble foams that relaxes the muscles and I use conventional and unconventional treatments to help children to feel more comfortable. Children need to feel comfortable throughout the day to be able to do more with their day. Families who are open to using topical Marijuana have a better chance of seeing their children more relaxed and comfortable throughout the day. As occupational therapists and mentors we are able to move their bodies easier if they are relaxed and not in pain. The alternative medicine helps them to feel more comfortable allowing the occupational therapists and mentors to move the body more to where they need to be to do therapy.

As we know children with Cerebral Palsy are usually small so if they are more relaxed I am able to practice driving their power chair with them for a longer amount of time. Children who are more comfortable are also able to show us which body part works the best for them. We want to find a balance between them being tight enough to sustain their weight during transfers but loose enough to be comfortable through the day. If children are constantly in pain they aren’t eating or sleeping well which causes a whole set of problems for them. Seizures are set off by a burst of pain well at the time and all we can do is rush them to the hospital.

If the child is more comfortable throughout the day they might have less seizures. I have a colleague who knew a child who was having twenty seizures a day and when the family gave her medical marijuana she was only having five seizures a day. Sometimes thinking out of the box is the key to helping a child feel more at ease during the day. The most important thing we can do for a child is to keep them comfortable allowing them to do what they need to do during the day.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Tight Muscles

While tight muscles are helpful during transferring, it’s very painful for the child so we have medicine to help the child to be more comfortable. I know a young man who wasn’t been able to grow pass a ten-year old’s body size because his muscles are so tight.  As occupational therapists and mentors, we want our clients tight enough to be able to sustain their weight during transfers but also be able to relax after the transfer.  Children who are able to support themselves with someone holding them, are also able to be toilet trained, which makes them be like other children.

As occupational therapists and mentors, we are able to help our clients to be independent by using what they naturally have for their own good. If the child is able to do a pivot and sit transfer they are able to have one aide which helps them feel more “normal” at school.   If we are able to work on this skill in therapy, we are giving the child a lifelong skill. The individuals with this skill will be able to live more “normally” by only needing a hoist and one aide at a time. The down side of this, is the child is susceptible to developing pain because of tight muscles.

We can help this by providing a blend of medication that will help them relax enough to relieve the pain but also leave enough muscle tone to do the pivot transfers. As soon as we know our client has enough tone to be able to do a pivot transfer safely, we go to work at it right away. Children with Cerebral Palsy are usually small in size so it’s easy to hold them up during transferring practice. The transfers usually look like the child is standing or the aide lifts them to where they need to go. I use the latter option, as I have uncontrollable steps so it is safer for the aide to pick me up.

  • Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children