Professor Media Matters

I am a media professional with 6 years as a TV producer and reporter, and college professor in the field of Communications. I am also a Conservative with a passion for pop culture. This will be my attempt to put the "me" in media. It will be my take on movies, TV, books, magazines, newspapers, the Internet and all that is the worldwide media.

Monday, April 24, 2017

THERAPY TRIUMPHS

KEY VERSE:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 2 Corinthians 2:14

ESSAY:

            With his multiple diagnoses including autism and cerebral palsy, Parker’s life has always been filled with therapy. He started weekly therapy shortly after he was born and it continues to this day. Some therapies were provided by the medical community, some by his school district and others by social welfare agencies. At times it has been a long and difficult journey but it has also been worth it. Here are some glimpses at his therapy triumphs.

Physical Therapy:

            With Parker's cerebral palsy it is hard for him to do fine motor things with his hands and fingers. They work on it weekly in occupational and physical therapies, trying to strengthen the muscles in his palms and digits. When he uses his hands too much, attempting to hold a pencil or use an eating utensil, they begin to shake uncontrollably. So I was quite shocked when this morning he decorated Mr. Potato Head's face all by himself. Woohoo!

Speech Therapy:

            In speech therapy, my son has been working on learning the primary colors: red, orange, yellow, green and blue. For the most part he has those mastered. Now they have introduced a new hue. Parker is learning the color silver. But he pronounces it “silger” with a hard “g.” I'm not sure why, but it is cute. He is very good at noticing this new color now. "Daddy, look at the silger car." It is fun to see him learn and apply new things.

            Parker learned a new word this weekend. He hasn't quite mastered it yet, but it is a tough word. We went to Mexican food yesterday at the "meshtaurant." Makes me smile.

Behavioral Therapy:

            Proud dad alert: Parker went potty all by himself recently. No teachers. No therapists. No assistance of any kind. He just told his therapists he needed to go potty and went on his own. This is a BIG deal.  To see Parker make progress in this area is just another of many answers to prayer in his development. This momentous occasion was remembered in his Thanksgiving prayer Parker prayed days later. He prayed it in the car on the way to school. This is what he prayed: "Dear Jesus thank you for at school, thank you for Wii, thank you for baby Riley (his nephew), thank you for my friends at church and thank you for helping me go poop and potty on the toilet. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Occupational Therapy:

            I got to see Parker engage in some imaginary play this week. It was fun to watch. He took his Woody and Bullseye Toy Story action figures and laid them down on a pillow. He pulled up the blanket and said, "Time for nigh-nigh. Say your prayers. Love you." He kissed them goodnight. Then he would go over and turn the light off. After that he would wait approximately 30 seconds and turn the light back on and say, "Time to get up. Got to go to school." And then do it all over again and again. He did it endlessly, never wavering in his enthusiasm for the process. My smile engulfed the entirety of my face as I enjoyed his play therapy.

On another occasion Parker had an imaginary phone conversation. My wife has an old blackberry she no longer uses. We call it Parker's phone. I walked in on Bubba this morning and he was having a conversation on it: “Okay babe. I love you. Gotta go.” So fun to see and hear his pretend play.

            Parker has always avoided certain textures: walking barefoot in grass, bark dust, playing with Play-Doh. As part of his therapy he is always being introduced to new textures. Today we got him to play with his racing cars in shaving cream. Woohoo!


Home Therapy:

            Parker's therapy is built around teaching him life skills. At home therapy we have been working on teaching him how to wash his own hair. It is odd writing up the process as a step by step function but that is how he learns. Who knew it took 10 or more distinct steps to wash your hair? You don’t realize the effort until you have to teach it to someone else. Take a look at this step by step process the therapist helped us establish for teaching Parker how to wash his own hair.

Step 1: Fill cup with water.
Step 2: Dump cup of water on your head.
Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 at least one more time.
Step 4: Put right palm under the shampoo pump.
Step 5: Push the shampoo pump down.
Step 6: Put left palm under the shampoo pump.
Step 7: Push the shampoo pump down.
Step 8: Rub your two hands together.
Step 9: Place your two hands on your hair.
Step 10: Rub your head.
Step 11: While rubbing your head, count to 15.
Step 12: Put your hands in the bath water.
Step 13: Fill cup with water.
Step 14: Dump cup of water on your head.
Step 15: Repeat steps 13 and 14 at least one more time.

Today Parker washed his hair all by himself. He showed great coordination by using both hands in the process, which with his cerebral palsy is difficult for him to do. I am very proud of him and his progress.

            With autism, social interaction can be a struggle. For example, Parker loves that there are other kids in his Sunday School class at church, but he doesn't want to play with them. So in separate home therapy sessions we have been working on his comfortability interacting with people he knows. Every session Grandpa calls to talk to Parker. Parker loves his Grandpa but he shies away from phone interaction. It scares him. But tonight he made good progress. He answered two questions that my dad asked him. Grandpa said we want to see you play baseball and Parker answered, "In March." And Grandpa closed with, "I love you Parker," and Bubba said, "I love you, too." Baby steps but it warms my heart.

ABOUT AUTISM:

            For many autistic children potty training is a grueling process for the child and their families. And some never achieve independence in this facet of their daily life. They remain dependent on diapers, dads and moms to help them with this biological process for their entire lives. My son still requires daily assistance with toileting and uses pull-up diapers at night.

APPLICATION:

            Celebrate a triumph today. If you don’t have a recent one, celebrate one from a while back. Buy your favorite flavor of ice cream to commemorate the accomplishment of finishing your college degree.  Take a long bubble bath to remind yourself that you quit smoking a decade ago. Or celebrate that all of your children are potty trained with a latte. Even if you are currently down on your luck, we all have triumphs to celebrate. Don’t miss opportunities to mark yours’ and your children’s triumphs.


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