Friday, February 12, 2010

In Home Therapy Services

Ria blogged about Matthew's variety of Early Intervention services - what he receives, how often, what skills he's working on and the future of his EI services. She's asked for others to share their experiences and since I'm never at a loss for words and I'd like to have a written record of Little J's in home therapies, I'm joining in.

What type of services and frequency is Little J receiving?
As of yesterday, Little J is 18 months old. He currently receives Physical Therapy twice per month at home. His therapist happens to be a 2nd or 3rd cousin on my husband's side. I really like Kathy; she's so competent and knowledgeable. She gives me all the physiology behind why she does what she does. With my biology degree (emphasis in human anat/phys), I appreciate that. Little J loves therapy.....now. It wasn't always like that, though. Between the ages of 12-14 months he was pretty clingy and the sessions were more like consultations. She'd show and explain some activities for Little J that we could do to help him with transitions and mobility.

Do you have home, office, or group therapy?
Technically speaking we have home therapy. However if you add up everyone present, it's more like a group therapy session. Little J, 4 siblings, mom and Kathy makes 7 people. The kids usually get involved as well, sharing their insight on Little J's development, fetching toys and offering lots of encouragement. Having gone through the infant/toddler development stages with 4 other children has been very helpful for me. I have lots of experience knowing what stage typically comes next. Like Ria, I find it in my and Little J's best interest to celebrate each milestone and look forward to the next regardless of when it comes according to the charts. Every child is different and possesses their own unique abilities. And I've found that the child who learns to climb, walk, run, jump early is also the one who rides a bike, snowboards and attempts all kinds of large motor stunts at a young age. The one who learns to talk early, I've found, also enjoys writing, singing, acting and all things wordy. So, if you do have other children don't discount their ability to offer "group" therapy for your child with Down syndrome. And as a mother who loves their child and wants the best for him, don't discount your ability to offer therapy. With a combination of library books and internet, resources for therapy ideas abound.

What skills are we currently working on with Little J?
He's mastered combat/commando crawling. He alternates arms and legs now. And sometimes he'll get his right leg under him in the crawling position. So in yesterday's PT session we worked on pulling to a kneel and stand position using his cube, couch and dining table brace as pull up assists. We are working on him standing against a chair or sofa and then handing him something from behind so he has to weight shift; this will help strengthen his legs for further unaided standing and then walking. We have one step from our kitchen down to the entryway and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen as does Little J. He's already figured out how to get down the step going head first, but that's not my first choice for him. So we also worked on teaching him to turn around and go feet first. He wasn't all that into it, but did figure out very quickly how to go back up the step when we introduced a game of ball rolling. I also have my own agenda for introducing social skills. After every diaper change I stand him up and say "hug mama" and then place his arms around my neck. We also practice turn taking by rolling a ball to one another; everyone plays this game with him. I also work with him on fine motor skills such as the pincer grasp using Cheerios and pointing using Touch and Feel books and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We do some basic signing: milk, more, eat, bath. Honestly, it's hard to even write it all down. Little J is involved in every moment of our day copying our gestures and babbling along with me as I teach lessons.

Final Comments
In the age of blogs, it's easy to read around and compare your county's services with another or your family with another and then wonder if you only lived somewhere different, had access to more or different therapists or had a different family dynamic, would your child's development be further along? Know that you are your child's best advocate. Love has a way of pushing us parents to find the best resources for helping all our children development to their potential.