Friday, June 17, 2016

Teach him how to fall

When our son first arrived home from Bulgaria at the age of 4, we started his PT in Alabama. The PT asked what goals we wanted her to to work on with him.  We told her, “We want you to teach him how to fall.”  This might seem like a strange request for the PT.  There are so many other skills we could have asked for her to list in S’s goals.  As we continued our conversation with her, it made perfect sense.  

As a 4 year old, S was very impulsive.  He didn’t realize that he needed to slow down a little bit. He had a reverse walker and was ready to roll!  The problem came when he fell in the hallway or off of the curb.  When you use a walker, you have both hands on your walker.  When you fall forward in a reverse walker with your hands still on the walker, you catch yourself with your face. Unfortunately, this happened more than once multiple times.

They worked on that skill.  He learned how to fall without using his face to catch himself.  We were so excited with this new skill that we would praise him when he fell.  Imagine the reactions of other people observing us as S fell in the store; praising the boy with a walker for a “good fall” instead of running over to coddle him.  Don’t judge!  He worked many hours to make that fall look that good, and he didn’t catch himself with his face!

As S progressed from a walker to crutches, his falls became different and more frequent. Crutches are much less stable than a walker.  S learned how to handle different terrains and floor types.  

Watching him fall

The natural instinct for those around S is to try to catch him if he falls.  That is problematic at this point in his life. It was different when he was younger...and lighter.  He’s not heavy, but he is like a dead weight when he is falling.  We have had to tell people you need to let him fall.  He knows how to do it; if he does, he will get back up because my son is not a quitter.

What does falling look like now?

As a young adult who is in college, falling looks different for our son.  It is more figurative than literal. Entering adulthood brings more challenges into life.  College comes with challenges - meeting deadlines, getting your work done, studying, turning assignments in, making choices about how to best use your time.  Many of these challenges are magnified due to S’s ADD.

My husband and I gave S quite a bit of guidance first semester as he was learning his way through the process.  He has been given the tools he needs to be successful.  He needs to choose to use them or he is going to fall.

Watching him fall

As I stated above, “the natural instinct for those around S is to try to catch him if he falls.  That is problematic at this point in his life. It was different when he was younger.”  At this point in his life, he needs to learn from his choices.  It doesn't mean we can't holler out an occasional warning about a "trip hazard"; however, there are many times my husband and I need to stand back and “watch him fall.” It’s not easy, but he has the tools to catch himself...or get himself back up.

I will be on the couch with chocolate….reading my book....reminding myself it is okay if he falls. He will get back up. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

A funny thing happened on our trip to Minnesota

Last weekend we were in Minnesota for my nephew’s high school graduation.  It was a quick trip because my youngest son is in school until June 17th!  Yes, you read that correctly.  

It’s always fun to go back.  We make it back to Minnesota at least once a year.  My husband and I are from a rural farm community (translation:  small town).  My husband and I graduated from the same high school that my nephew was graduating from.  My sister and brother-in-law graduated from there.  My husband’s three sisters graduated from there.  My mom taught in this school system.  I have two cousins who teach there.  We have a lot of connections to this town.

We flew in Friday and started on our 2 ½ trip to our hometown.  My sister-in-law picked us up from the airport.  We hit Jamba Juice on the way out of the Cities.  We stopped on our trip to have lunch with my mother-in-law and stepfather-in-law.  During this drive, my sister called and asked if we could come straight to their house to help set up a tent for the graduation party. Sure!

We arrived at their house and asked what we could do to help get ready for the party.  My sister-in-law and I were tasked with taping pictures onto the photo boards.  We were in the house working.  My husband, J, my sister and brother-in-law were outside putting up the tent.  S decided he would walk around their yard and check things out.  My sister and brother-in-law moved into this house about 9 months ago.  Not a problem.

We hadn’t been at their house for 30 minutes when my sister came inside laughing.  As they were outside putting up the tent, a cop pulled up to the house and sat there looking at what was taking place.  My sister walked over to see if he needed anything.  She said he seemed rather embarrassed; at this point, a second cop car pulled up to the house.  They had received a call that they needed to do a welfare check at the house.  Why?  Because S who has CP and uses crutches was walking around himself.  The horror of this!  

We all laughed at the situation.  S just wanted to know why no one bothered to ask him anything. Again, he was outside at 4:30 pm with 3 other adults and his 17 year old brother.  He looked like he might need some help (I need a sarcasm font here).

This made for a great conversation piece at my nephew’s party.  Everyone there either knows my son or knows of my son.  They know he is a college student.  Not really needing a welfare check. The biggest discussion was, “Which neighbor called the cops?”

The best part of this whole story is it made the police log in the paper!  You have to love small towns.  

I will be on the couch with chocolate...still laughing at this story.