Friday, July 01, 2011

Emily's first official summer vacation

Well, I mentioned in my last post that Emily finished her first year of school the week before Memorial Day. So that was the start of our summer vacation. The first of many. I still find it hard to believe that we are in "school mode" now. We haven't had to think about school calendars since Mike graduated from seminary in 2007 (and before that, let's just say it was a long, long time ago). Don't let the above picture fool you. We are not spending our summer vacation laying around. Emily still has therapy at Children's two days a week. We also added aqua therapy to our schedule for the summer. Both programs last about 8 weeks. We had a week off between school and therapy starting for the summer session. We will probably have another week off before the fall session begins.

Emily has been enjoying herself at therapy. The sessions are set up a bit different than they were during the school year. There is more of a focus on therapy and less on "preschool stuff". Don't get me wrong they are still working on things like learning letters and shapes and colors, but the point of the summer session is intensive therapy. The kids work in pairs and move from one station to another (OT, PT and Speech).
True to form, Emily hates being in the stander (this was the case during the school year too - and lately at home - such fun!). Now she also hates being on the treadmill. They put her in a harness over the treadmill and encourage her to take steps as it is moving. She has a mirror in front of her while she is doing it. The first time, she loved to watch her feet moving and would not put her head up. Since then, she has cried every time they put her on it. Guess you can't blame her for trying to get out of doing the things she doesn't like. Problem is, it doesn't work at Children's.
One of the pieces of equipment that Emily has been enjoying this summer is a bike. I don't know the name of it, but it is a cool piece of equipment! It has a seat that supports her very well. Her feet are strapped onto the pedals. The bike will move for her, but it is also set up to "sense" when she moves on her own and it lets her do the movement. It accommodates for her tone and spasticity too. She loves it! She would spend the entire session doing that if they let her.
Towards the end of the school year, we had some issues at therapy. She would cry just about every time she was there. It was really starting to stress me out. I felt bad that Emily was "that child". The one that disturbs the entire class with her tantrums. Plus, I felt bad that she was so miserable. She would cry through circle time many times and miss out on story time (which she LOVES) and music (which she also LOVES). I tried various things to help her with the transition to class. What I finally figured out was that I needed to get there early so the transition to class was not rushed. That is not always easy since we hit rush hour traffic and the hospital is 45 minutes away (when there isn't traffic). I also talked about all the fun she would have on the drive there. She would smile and laugh when I talked about seeing her friends and doing crafts and singing songs. During the summer session, things have gone much smoother (as long as they aren't asking her to do something she hates).
Aqua therapy has been nothing short of amazing! When she did aqua therapy last summer, I only got to go to one session, so I had no idea how great she was in the water. We had an appointment with the therapist before the 8 week class began. The therapist wanted to meet her and make a plan for the summer. She put a swim collar on Emily and she pushed herself from one end of the pool to the other (the long way). When she got to the end, she had an ear to ear grin that said "did you see what I just did?". It was adorable! She did great with all of the exercises and followed directions like a champ.

Most of all, I am amazed at how easily she moves in the water. It is so freeing for her to have that swim collar on. She can focus on her movements without having to worry about keeping her head up. Today, we had the best session so far. She did everything we asked her to do. When I told her to turn to the right, she did it without hesitation. When her legs started to float to the top of the water, I would tell her to push them down and she would. She moved herself around that pool like there was nothing stopping her. She was even grabbing at flags that were hung on a rope across the pool (no easy task for her). The cool thing was, even when she didn't do something right away, you could tell by the look on her face that she was trying to process the request and figure out how to get her body to do what we asked. She looks so proud of herself too and that makes me so happy.

The pool is about an hour from us. That is not fun, but when I see her in the pool, it makes it worth the drive. The summer sessions will end the first week of August and I will be sad to see aqua therapy go. Not sure if we will be able to do it during the school year because our schedule is pretty hectic with school and therapy, but if we can make it work somehow, it would be worth it just to see my girl working hard and enjoying herself.


Big brother, Little sister. said...

Dawn, lovely to catch up on Emily ! Wow what a busy schedule and so exciting that swimming us such a success! Enjoy your summer xx

Anonymous said...

I haven't been by in a while either and I love seeing how she has grown - her head/neck posture seems to have matured, too.

Beautiful as ever!


Anonymous said...

Wow, it's awesome to hear what Little Em is busying herself with this summer! These are some amazing accomplishments! Way to go Little Em! I can just picture you all over that pool!

Rejoicing with you,

Anonymous said...

Hoping to see some photos of her in the water and on the bike!


Christie said...

Dawn, Sounds like you have a little water-loving fish there! :) This post was a while back. I hope you guys are having a great summer!! Christie