We worked with kids today – a challenging and rewarding time but a long day. After a parent group session led by a psychologist, families were asked to demonstrate how they position their children for sleeping at night. They had all attended classes on therapeutic positioning but for many of them this was a sort of “test” as Elizabeth, the OT observed them. She then spent time coaching each family, working through individual issues. Only then did we begin evaluating them for their wheelchairs.
Our workshop became a busy place as therapists assessed the wheelchairs set aside for kids after assessing the kids themselves. We try our best to send an appropriate wheelchair frame for each child. But given the infinite variety of kids, growth rates, conditions and needs we do not know about until we meet them – what we brought for them may or may not work. Confirming that the wheelchair frame will work for a child is the first step; after that the seating system (seat and back cushions and other posture supports) can be worked through.
And why do we work so hard to make a seating system that works for kids? So they can do stuff! Over the years we have been privileged to see children who move themselves in a wheelchair, feed themselves or simply eat while not being held in a parent’s arms. Promoting alternative and augmentative communication strategies for kids who are non-speaking is a part of Eleanore’s Project mission that has been dormant for the last few years. But it came alive again today when we offered Geraldine symbols for “yes” and “no” on her tray. Heavy duty cardboard angles, a magic marker, packing tape lamination and she was good to go.