The Medically Involved Child

Celebrating the Child with Multiple Challenges

Children that have multiple challenges that confront them every day should inspire us.  Not only these wonderful children but their parents and siblings as well.

These children often have such high intelligence but are in bodies that do not work as well as others.  We need to be sure to meet children at their intellectual levels; respect where they are.  A child may seem to lack ability on the outside but, receptively, understand everything that is going on around them.  So be sure to talk to them at their age level and encourage those around you to do the same.

Speech therapists excel at challenging receptive language (what is understood) as well as expressive language (what is said).

If a child cannot speak words, a speech therapist will use systems of communication:

PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) – a picture system to express wants and needs

Sign language

AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication) – use of a computer to generate a voice to express wants and needs

The goal is that every child has some form of expressive and receptive language so the child can participate in their world.

We also want each child to be social so it is crucial for them to have a means to exchange communication with others.

Occupational and Physical Therapists want to challenge fine motor and gross motor skills and positioning.

Positioning – crucial to ensure optimal muscle length, bone density and skin integrity.

Occupational Therapists (OTs) will maximize a child’s ability to assist with skills such as dressing, toileting and hygiene.  In addition, OTs will challenge a child’s ability to point so he/she can make choices in a communication system or type on a keyboard.

Physical Therapists (PTs) focus on standing, walking and transitions to/from a bed or a car or a chair.  The best mode of mobility whether a walker or a manual/power wheelchair is determined by a PT.  Training on the use of each mobility device is done during physical therapy.

Both PTs and OTs work on stretching and strengthening exercises.

Therapists team up with parents to determine the best goals.  The goals are broken down in small achievable targets and progress is celebrated.

The celebration of a goal met by a child with multiple challenges is often more joyous due to what must be overcome to actually achieve it.  Being a part of the team that is instrumental is achieving these successes is life changing and inspiring.

Tips to parenting a child with different abilities:

Focus on where your child is and the next step that you are working on.  Do not compare to other children.

Celebrate each success as a win!  Because that is exactly what it is – a win!

Do not think with what you child cannot do but what they CAN do.

Pat yourself on the back each day.  You are being the best parent you know how to be!

Push your child’s potential at their intellectual level.

Do your best to correct your child as you would your other children.

Above all, remember your family will learn to love bigger, celebrate genuinely and appreciate the little things.

Help the rest of the world to see your child’s abilities.  Give the world grace as they have not been on the journey you have been on.

ABC Pediatric Therapy Network would love to help you challenge and celebrate your child.


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