Chapter 3 Therapy

Throughout my childhood I went to Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapy. Dr. Miller sent me to all of these therapies because he wanted me to be able to live independently as an adult. I started Physical Therapy when I was in preschool. At that time I was going to a special school for children with disabilities and my physical therapist worked at my school. My Physical Therapist’s name was Carmon Dairyman. When it was time for my therapy appointment I would go down to her therapy room she had at school. She would have me lay down on her table so she could stretch my legs. When I was young my leg muscles were very tight, which made it difficult for me to walk. Stretching helped to loosen the muscles. It really hurt when my therapist use to stretch my legs, and she would tell me the more I stretch the less it would hurt. I never would want to stretch outside of therapy because it hurt too much, but my dad would always make me. After I stretched at home, I started to see that Carmon was right. When I went to Elementary School Carmon would come to see me two times a week for therapy. I use to hate it because it made me feel different because I was the only kid in my class that had to go to Physical Therapy. The stretching still hurt and Carmon wanted me try things that were difficult for me to do. For example, I use to sit “W” style. Carmon would tell me sitting like this would tighten my legs up and I needed to start sitting Indian style. I use to hate having to sit like this because it would always hurt me. I lost count of how many times Carmon had to tell how “W” sitting would tighten my legs. When I finally listened to Carmon and stopped sitting “W” style my legs were looser and hurt less.
Carmon wasn’t able to continue to be my therapist when I entered middle school. I starting going to Health South. I went to Health South for Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapies. I went to Health South on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. On Tuesday’s I began with Occupational Therapy. My Occupational Therapist’s name was Beth. Beth and I worked on many things to help me be able to live independently in the future. One thing Beth helped me with was my handwriting. My fine motor skills were not strong enough to have readable handwriting. Beth had me use paper with lines that were further apart and a thicker pencil with a small ball with holes in it. This made it easier for me to grip the pencil. Beth wanted me to practice writing with this kind of paper and pencil at home and at school. This difference I didn’t mind because I was able to write instead of type like my other classmates.
Beth allowed me to have a say in some of the things I wanted to work on in therapy. At that time I was 13 and wanted to be able to start staying home by myself. One of the things that prevented me from doing that was that I couldn’t get food out of the microwave by myself and she was able to help me learn how to do that. After a couple of weeks of practicing, I was able to do this on my own and I was able to stay home by myself when my parents went out. Beth also taught me some other household chores such as making the bed and folding laundry. I wanted to keep this in between Beth and I because knew if my parents found out I can do these things, they would make me do them at home. That didn’t go the way that I planned and sure enough my parents made me fold laundry and make my bed at home. The funny part is now that I have my own home, I enjoy the traditional homemaker role.
Another thing that Beth and I worked on was me being able to dress myself. My mom still had to dress me when I was in Middle School. The first thing Beth and I worked on was me learning how button my pants. We first practiced with a button hook. It was a little plastic tool with a wire loop on the end of it. I would put the wire loop through the button hole in my pants, grab the button with the loop, and pull the button through the hole. Beth also had me practice buttoning my pants with my hands like everyone else does. In a couple of months I was able to button my pants without the button hook, and by the end of 7th grade I was able to shower and get dressed by myself. There were a few things with regards to dressing I still wasn’t able to do by myself, but I was able to find ways around that so I could completely dress myself. I wasn’t able to tie my shoes, so I found untied shoelaces to put in all of my shoes. I couldn’t button shirts because the buttons were too small for me to grip. Thankfully, the style became wearing a t-shirt underneath a button down shirt with the shirt open. I told Beth, “We don’t need to practice buttoning my shirt. This is the style.”. She laughed. It felt so good to be able to dress myself, because I was able to pick out my own clothes. This made me feel like I fit in with my peers.
Beth made occupational therapy fun too. The room where we worked had a big swing in the middle of it. She would always let me take swing breaks after doing a difficult task. The swing looked like a playground swing, but it also bounced. We also played games like hang man to work on my handwriting.
I also saw a speech therapist at Health South. During my childhood my speech was very difficult to understand. I guess it is ironic that I chose Motivational Speaking as a career. I saw the speech therapist every tTuesday. My speech therapist’s name was Brooke. The sounds that I had the most difficulty pronouncing was the “l” and “th” sounds. Brooke would give me a list of words with those sounds to repeat back to her so I could work on pronouncing those sounds correctly. Brooke also did tongue exercises with me so my tongue would be able to go where it needed to go in order to pronounce the “l” and “th” sounds correctly. I always found these exercises to be weird because they were something you don’t do around other people. My speech therapist also wanted me to work on swallowing. I use to drool a lot because of my CP especially when I was talking. Brooke had to teach me that every time I finished a sentence I would need to stop and swallow. When I did that I drooled less. I still drool a little today but no where as much as I use to as a child.
I also saw a Physical Therapist at Health South. Her name was Sharri. Sharri would work on making my legs looser and stronger in order to give me more endurance so I wouldn’t get tired from walking long distances. Sharri would have me lay on the therapy bed so she could stretch my hamstrings. This was always the part of body that was tight. She would usually spend 15 minutes stretching my hamstrings. Sharri would also have me go for long walks to build up my endurance. She would make me walk for 20 minutes. By the end of 7th grade I stopped getting tired from walking long distances and my legs were looser.
The summer between 7th and 8th grade Beth, Brooke, Sharri, and my parents sat down and had a meeting. This meeting was to discuss my progress in therapy. All three of my therapists said that I have met all of my therapy goals and could be discharged. When I recieved that news, I was so happy. This meant I didn’t need to leave school early for therapy anymore. I also was hoping to start running track on my school’s track team in 8th grade, and now I didn’t need to worry about how therapy was going to fit into the track schedule. It also gave me a lot of hope for my future. In most cases when a person has Cerebral Palsy their condition gets worse. Mine was improving. This also meant I didn’t need to have surgery on my legs like the doctors were talking about for years.

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