This afternoon I took Joshua to an appointment with an Occupational Therapist that is up here visiting from another state.
Joshua and I went on Holidays last week to visit my Mum, and while we were away I got a phone call from his Physiotherapist. She was calling to tell me how things went when she visited Joshua at his day care centre. She told me he was really happy there, and she did a bit of work with him on trying to get him to steer his walker, which he was not doing at all when I dropped him off there that morning. She didn't have a great deal of luck either, but something obviously clicked because when I picked him up that afternoon, he was steering! That was a couple of weeks ago and he is now doing so well at turning and steering his walker. It is hard work for him, but he is managing so well. As part of the phone call, she also told me about an Occupational Therapist that was coming up, and wanted to know if I wanted to book Joshua in with her. I figured that we might as well. After that, Joshua's Occupational Therapist (OT) called me and told me that the visiting OT was a lot more experienced than her and that she specialises in Sensory Integration, which she has some knowledge of, but not as much as this other lady. She told me that the sessions with her can be really full on, but that it might give us some good ideas that she hasn't thought of to use in our normal sessions.
Anything is worth trying really, and we had the funding available to us to pay for it. I've mentioned it before, the Better Start for Children with Disability Funding, where we are allocated $12,000 to use by the time Joshua turns 7 years old. The money can only be spent on services that are part of the Better Start approved panel of service providers and there just isn't many of those local to us, so we don't have a lot of opportunity to actually use the funding unless we chose to travel to access therapy in another state. But every now and then, someone will come up here that we can see. I wanted to do some Conductive Education Therapy with Joshua in January, which we would have been able to use the funding for, but unfortunately they did not get enough interest to justify coming up here, so this is the first time we have spent any of our money... A 1.5 hour session cost $450, so you can see how the cost would make accessing these sort of opportunities quite prohibitive if we were having to pay out of our own pocket.
So I believe that she will be sending through some more information to me about things to do, but the main points of today was that she was showing me some things to do to try and "wake up" the muscles he is not using effectively. For example, in sitting he tends to have fairly poor posture, slumping forwards. She was showing me to stimulate the muscles along his spine to encourage flexion and make him sit up straight. She was using a similar technique on his feet and legs to get him to position those better too. And stroking his face to encourage him to position his mouth better. She felt he responded very well to these things.
She also thinks we need a platform swing for him to do exercises on that particularly encourage having to put his right hand past midline. His right side is most affected, though when made to, he performs reasonably well with it, and she thinks we should encourage it to come across his body a lot more to help break up his normal movement pattern. She also suggested using a small wedge for sitting, perhaps engaging him in something for 5 mins every hour or so sitting on the wedge to break up his W sitting.
We are also able to use some of our funding money for equipment purchases rather than therapy sessions, the only thing is that the equipment has to be approved by a Better Start Service Provider, which she is, so she has told me I can email her if there is things I want to buy with the funding and she can approve it for us to use our funding. She said she can't think of anything major she would suggest for us right now, apart from a platform swing, but they are very overpriced and a 'Handy Hubby" could make one for much cheaper than they can be bought... so I will have to let my Handy Hubby know about his new project ;) She said she can also see that we might want something in the future for him like an adapted bike for him to ride, things like that.
She said he was very cute and she would love to see him again (for another $450 I am sure! LOL), and that he is doing really well, and asked if I am pleased with his progress, which of course, I am. Our regular OT was also there for his session and videoed it all so we can look back again at things we might have forgotten, and I guess I will see what other information she sends through to me. But overall I think it was worth doing.