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31 for 21: Therapy At Home

Posted Oct 20 2010 12:00pm
Thanks to all the advances in research with Down syndrome and the mindset change from the early 1900's, children with Down syndrome have so much potential and so many opportunities nowadays.

At times I think we can take it for granted all the opportunities children with DS are given when it comes to physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, oral motor therapy, feeding therapy, nutritional therapy and so much more. A decade ago, families who had children with DS didn't have all this information and knowledge.

So, the norm now when a family has a child with Down syndrome is to get the child enrolled in some kind of therapy program, be it a neurodevelopmental program, an early intervention program or just private physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. This is all so wonderful, because most people who have a child with DS need this kind of help. It can be a daunting task to try to figure out how you can best help your child reach milestones.

And so every family learns the abbreviations PT, ST, OT.....and sometimes OMT or OPT ;). And the other abbreviations ND or NACD.

Every family will do the therapy work differently, since there are so many options, like I mentioned above.

For our family, that meant buying books on PT, ST, OT & OMT. Osiyyah never saw a professional physical therapist, or occupational therapist and I don't regret that one bit ;). He never even saw a professional speech therapist until he was 4 years old! And even now, we only see his ST once a month just to get certain ideas from her that I can't learn myself (specifically the PROMPT commands).

With Physical Therapy we bought Patricia Winders book, Gross Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome

My mom and I both read the book and followed it pretty closely. We'd read it and re-read it to see what therapy items we'd need or what we should be doing with Osiyyah at a certain age or stage. We built balance bars & bought therapy balls (to help build ab support). We sat him on edges of things and held his trunk to strengthen his core & help him learn to sit. We bought the Bumbo seat & the Boppy pillow , both to help with sitting (and both were SO helpful!). We bought a Jumperoo & a walker to help his leg strength. I feel like I'm forgetting some things, so if I remember them, I'll add them.

And Osiyyah did wonderful. He never needed a "professional PT." He learned to sit at 9 months old. He pulled to stand at 13 months old. He crawled for several months before walking and he walked at 17 months old. I will say his crawl was never the "four-point crawl", but he did it his own way and it didn't hinder anything. He can crawl on all four points now :). It would've certainly inhibited him had we forced him to learn to crawl on all four points.

For Occupational Therapy we bought Maryanne Bruni's book, Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome .

We did the same with this book and bought Osiyyah all kinds of "toys" for therapy. Puzzles. Knob Puzzles. Stacking rings. Blocks. And so much more! He did wonderful on all of it! And he never saw a "professional OT" either ;).

For speech, I think I've said quite a few times what we use. In case you haven't seen it, this post & this post are two good summary posts.

We haven't really done an ND program, but I think they can be very beneficial.

Now, all this to say, that if the parent or family is well educated, therapy can all be done at home and the child won't suffer or lack anything. There's nothing I regret as far as us not seeing any "professional" therapists. Osiyyah has thrived with us (as in his family) being his therapists. We have such a large family and he gets so much stimulation, therapy and interaction with all of us.

We talked to someone at a regional center shortly after Osiyyah was born and they told us that it sounds like he'll be fine with our family, if we need any help, just give them a call. And we haven't really needed much help. At times, the research and what we read can be overwhelming and it can make one feel unsure as to where to start, but the more research that is done and understanding that comes, it all falls into place. I'm so thankful God has given us the opportunity to be Osiyyah's therapists. It has helped him tremendously.

I know we may not be the norm, but I wanted to do this post to show that therapy can successfully be done at home without much of any help from professionals. I know not every family has a kid (myself!) 16 years older than their kiddo with DS to do all the therapy with, but our family happens to have that ;).


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