My last post brought in a few questions about my physical therapy time with John, so I thought that I would share a few principles that we use with John. Before I share those, I would like to begin by saying that John was afforded a beginning to life with no health obstacles to overcome. When he was born, we were able to focus our attention on his needs such as physical therapy, food, sleep and a dry diaper. There was nothing else for us to worry about health-wise. Now, on to the principles:
1. Don't give up - I realize that it is a daily struggle and sometimes it becomes more then we think we can bare. It is those times that we wonder if the time we invest in therapy really does matter. As a dad of a special needs child and a Physical Therapist Assistant, I have seen PT make a big difference in a lot of lives. So DON'T GIVE UP!
2. Make it part of your life - by that I mean try not to separate your therapy
time from your play time. Integrate the two. Making therapy time a separate time from the rest of your day will burn a person out. This also makes it easy to skip therapy during the days when life gets hectic.
3. Floor time - babies learn so much on the floor. The floor gives them an
opportunity to stretch, to learn eye-hand coordination as they play with their toys and to learn about their bodies and how it moves. And when you are giving them their floor time, don't just leave them on their backs. I realize that they can learn a lot from being on their backs, but they learn so much more on their belly. On their belly, they are continually working those back muscles which they will use to sit up.
4. Love them - create a loving environment where the child can feel secure in your love for them and of their place within the family. This helps them to open up and learn.
5. Don't compare them - your child is not my child and my child is not your child. They are all different with different genetic makeup. And from my experience, John is governed more by his genetic makeup than he is Down syndrome. Comparing children/babies will only give you heartache and disappointment because there will always be someone out there that is faster, smarter and richer. Instead of comparing them, challenge yourself to help them to be the best that they can be. Find
their full potential and demand it from them.
On a more personal level, John and I spend less formal "therapy time" now than we did at the beginning (which I began working with John the first week of life which I would advise any new parent to do if there are no other health issues that would get in the way). In making therapy a part of our daily life, John is on the floor often around here and by that I mean on his belly. Of course now it doesn't matter whether we place him on his belly or on his back, he is going to roll wherever he wants to but by placing him on his belly, I know that if he wants to go to his back, he is going to have to work for it. When he is on my chest, he is on his belly and if he is sitting on the couch by me, he is sitting up in a way that he has to do most if not all of the supporting himself.
The more they work those muscles, the stronger they will get. And one day, they will be strong enough that they will start doing it themselves. Again, I would like to point anyone to my "email me" label on the left hand side of the page. I will gladly share with anyone what I know so that you can better help your child reach his/her full potential. Remember, you can do this...it requires patience and persistence.
Below are pictures of John's playtime which required nothing of me except to be in the same room with him to make sure he doesn't tumble over and hurt himself. Although, he has tumbled so much that he has learned how to transition himself over on his belly when he tumbles.