Last week was rough. It was difficult thinking about the wheelchair. This week’s been much better. My dad was supposed to take Jackson to Perlman on Tuesday. However, due to Hurricane Sandy, power lines fell at the top of my parents’ dead end street and no one was allowed out for hours. As a result, I took Jackson to Perlman because missing school is not an option in the Vanzant household. So, Jackson and I headed off to school… in his monkey costume.
Perlman was just what I needed to cheer up. All of the kids in his class were dressed up for Halloween. We had a monkey, a lady bug, a flower and a few other little goblins. Perlman is school-like with a specifc focus on physical, speech and occupational therapy.
You’re probably wondering what a typical day at Perlman is like. Every class is different, but I can tell you what we did on Tuesday. Class began with a song introducing the children and each child got to say “Hello friends” to the class. These kids don’t say words yet, so they use communication devices (i.e. switches) to say hi .
The group then broke up and each therapist began working one-on-one with the kids. The occupational therapist told me how good Jackson sees and told me we can move from three-dimensional to two-dimensional objects. She showed me how to use a modified picture book with Jackson. Jackson has cortical visual impairment or CVI, which means his eyes are fine but he doesn’t process what he sees. Kids with CVI see bright, solid color, three-dimensional objects best. We’re really happy they think Jackson can now see two-dimensional objects, like bright, solid color pictures. It means his brain is processing more of what his eyes are taking in and he’s seeing better.
It was then time to celebrate Halloween and eat candy. Yes, candy. I started to wonder what candy has to do with therapy. It turns out candy has a lot to do with therapy. Jackson doesn’t eat very well. He gets most of his calories from Pediasure.* He doesn’t really chew and swallow yet (you’re going to be seeing a lot of the word “yet” because we have high hopes for Jackson), it’s mainly just swallowing. The speech therapist began by doing mouth exercises. This is where she puts her fingers in his mouth and moves them around to stimulate the nerves to make him eat better. It’s more technical than simply “putting fingers in his mouth”, but it’s hard to explain. We’re also supposed to do these exercises at home. After that he was ready for a tootsie pop. I tried really hard to get Jackson to lick his tootsie pop, but he wasn’t interested. So, the speech therapist came over with a pixy stick. The pixy stick is more sour and therefore might cause more of a reaction than the tootsie pop. He wasn’t really interested in the pixy stick, but I plan to work on it more at home.
After tootsie pops, we moved on to the parachute. The children were put in a circle on their backs and we held the parachute over them, moved it up and down and sang a parachute song. Jackson cooed the whole time. It was awesome. I love it every time he makes noises.
After that it was time to go and we sang the goodbye song. The hand puppet alligator sings goodbye and gives a kiss to each child at the end of class.
Perlman was just what I needed to get out of my funk. It’s so great to see Jackson in the classroom paying attention, hitting a switch and cooing at a bright parachute.
*If you have any Pediasure coupons, you can send them my way.