Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Summer mission: Tackle the playground equipment!

Caleb's favorite part of school was recess.  Of course.  What kid doesn't love recess?  Unfortunately the playground at Caleb's school is filled with wood chips.  Everywhere.  And those of you with kids that use walkers and/or wheelchairs know that wood chips are evil and not at all walker/wheelchair friendly.  Most days Caleb would choose to get out of his wheelchair and just play in the wood chips.  He crawled around in them daily which is brutal on his sweet knees.  I know the teachers would offer to take Caleb to swing or to do something else but he would always choose to just play in the wood chips.  I think Caleb chose to play on the ground instead of on the equipment because he feels safe on the ground.  He can't play on the equipment without considerable help.  I hate to use the word "can't", but it's true.  He can't do it.  So, now that school is out for the summer one of my goals is to teach Caleb how to get on the playground equipment at school so that next year he will feel much more confident and will hopefully venture out of the wood chips.  We are going to have physical therapy at the school playground this summer with his PT, Ms. Vickie.  Today was our first day out there.

There are several pieces of equipment on the playground, I chose this one for Caleb because I think it will be the easiest for him to maneuver.
 Ms. Vickie didn't waste anytime and put Caleb right to work.  She helped him considerably and really tried to show him where to put his hands and feet.  It was not easy for him at all, but you could tell that he was proud of himself.  This is probably the first time he has been on this equipment. He has watched all of his classmates run and play all over the playground while he sits in the wood chips.  This is unacceptable to me.  Again, I don't blame the teachers, Caleb chose to play in the wood chips, but sometimes you've got to push a kid a little bit so that they get out of their comfort zone.  I'm actually a little mad at myself for not addressing this issue sooner.  It drove me crazy that he was playing in the wood chips almost everyday and I didn't do anything about it.  When we had his IEP meeting at the end of this school year I mentioned my frustration and the school PT offered to add a goal to work with Caleb on the equipment outside next school year.  Why didn't I think of that sooner?  I should have mentioned this to his school PT ages ago but it just never occurred to me!  Oh well, better late than never I guess.
Working his way to the slide.  He was grinning ear to ear!  He was so proud of himself.
  Going down the slide.
Ms. Vickie took Caleb through the equipment 3 times and by that third time I could tell that his legs were super tired.  She really pushes him which I think is good because he can do it.  He may never climb through playground equipment like his classmates, and that's okay.  I just want him to have more choices.  I want him to be able to get himself up on the playground and go down the slide, I want him to have that choice.  I don't think he feels like he has that choice because it's not something that he can do on his own.  We will continue to do physical therapy at the playground this summer.  I want to give him every opportunity to increase his strength and confidence.  He may still need some help on the equipment when school starts in the fall but at least he will have had lots of practice this summer.
 Going down the slide with Ms. Vickie.  Look at that big grin!  He really worked so hard out there today. And he did it without complaining (other than fussing about being hot and sweaty!).  I think the desire is there and Ms. Vickie and I could both tell that he was so proud of himself.
(I guess Benjamin prefers to play in the wood chips too)


Jen said...

fantastic! what a great summer goal. you are a great mom.

Anonymous said...

GOD picked the perfect parents to raise Caleb. I'm proud to have you as a daughter and my grandbaby's mother! You do an awesome job. Love and appreciate all you do for your family!

Margaret Simmons

Our family said...

You are a great mama! Go Caleb!

Colleen said...

We had the same problem with Nate! That's a great PT goal!

Leigh and Andy said...

such a great post!! something i hadn't even thought of! I've got a few years before Grey is in school, but you can bet that we are going to go to that playground! Thanks so much for this!

AZ Chapman said...

great idea and think he will have another year of kindergaten and playgrounds

Sandy said...

Ireland's PT at school has been working with her since she was 3 years old. This was one of the things she worked on first of all with Ireland. I believe she realized the importance of recess especially to a kid. Ireland is now a pro!

Elizabeth said...

I just want to say thank you in general for your blog.
My older sister has a developmental disability. I'm in college, and I'm so glad I found your blog because it's opened my eyes to some of the thoughts my mom probably went through in raising me and my sisters.
I know she went through some of the same thoughts about playground equipment and stuff, because my sister took a long time to even be able to walk on her own.
Again, thank you! Your blog is an encouragement to me.

Amanda said...

This is really what I hate...when the make parks that aren't access available for children with special needs. I've got a daughter that's 20 months, and we don't usually go to the park because she's developmentally 10 months old, so she still eats the wood chips. And she can't walk, so she can't play on anything unless we lift her. I'm so happy to see that your son is getting help, but why should families with special children work so hard? You know? There should be parks that are available to ALL people, not just "typical" people/children. Thank you for your post. You've made me feel like I'm not alone.

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