With the various therapeutic inputs Charlie has now it is difficult to keep his focus and effort on the things we need him to do. I suppose this is to be expected- particularly with me, Charlie’s playtime and fun and often very structured in a way to provide some sort of therapy…
I know it is vital for children to spontaneously discover their emerging talents almost accidentally but for us we feel there is a massive trade off- do we ‘let him be’ or do we push and push with therapeutic involvement? It is a big question- short-term happiness vs long-term physical gain?
Even, in fact particularly, with his physios Charlie tends to play up- he has increasingly become comfortable with them and knows how to ‘play’ them. They have been part of his life for so long that he has them wrapped around his finger, he sees them as people to play with not to work hard for. They have various degrees of difficulty getting him to perform and they, like us, have to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make something novel and interesting. The question arises, ‘Carrot or Stick’? Do we tempt Charlie into doing physio by using rewards or do we use discipline and removal of his things if he doesn’t? Obviously, the answer lies somewhere in the middle- we don’t want Charlie to only do his therapies with the potential of sweets or new toys but at the same time we don’t want him to associate his exercise with being in trouble! Hopefully as he gets older he’ll understand the need for the activities, therapy and physio and with actively want to do them in order to help himself- we live in hope!
We have found that we can coerce Charlie into doing therapy when he is unaware of it- hands down these are the best sessions. Watching TV stood with one foot stepped in front of the other or chasing us on his bike; using Minion (his best friend) to ‘fly to the moon’, reaching up high above him, stretching his back and neck. Even down to watching TV on his tummy stretching and strengthening his tummy and back (attempting to catch up ‘tummy time’).
We have looked in to Active Video Games (AVG) which have shown to encourage exercise/therapy by playing the Wii or an Xbox (using the Kinect). They use physical movement and controlled actions to produce a responce on the screen- they also provide feedback and encouragement to continue AND to improve. The only issue is as they Charlie is still a little unstable for the Wii (we will get him on the balance board eventually!) but it has shown promise and he likes the idea of it- particularly if we can use Spiderman or Minions to encourage him further. There has been an increasing amount of ‘white paper’ literature on the benefit of AVG on CP kids.
When we do find an activity that Charlie enjoys the next unfortunate step is we do it and do it and do it until he no longer enjoys it or associated it with therapy. We are constantly trying to find ‘fun’ to bring to Charlie’s therapy- not always successfully… any ideas?