A mother visited us at the Center yesterday with her nine year old son who has Cp. The child has been able to achieve most of the skills needed for activities of daily living. He is yet to achieve walking thus the mother is obsessed with that, “my pikin must walk” attitude. Of course that is the desire of every special mother. But the snag is that often times we pursue this skill so much that we fail to help our children develop
other skills more important skills that may bring joy and happiness add fulfillment to everyone concerned.
Each time I tell a mother with a child with CP that it has no cure yet, she looks at me with this look of “and you call yourself a christian” or when I say that some of these our children may not walk, I get this look of “then why are you doing what you are doing?” Some even say it out. A man from my village who I approached for support to the center said to me that it is a useless venture. I asked him how? ah. did you not tell me that there is no cure? How can I put my money into something that has no good result? Igbo man and his okoro sense!!
Anyway back to my post. The woman in question was so obsessed with the child walking that she is ready to do anything. But to me most of the things she was embarking on needs to be preceded by a number of other things to get the expected result if at all it will come. For instance, she wanted to make calipers, prone stander so that she can put him to stand, then a walking frame. Incidentally the carpenter was there as I had sent for him to place order for chairs for two children Miss A and Princess, to use at home. The orthotist was there too. I had invited him to cast the children that need their braces replaced instead of me taking all of them to orthopedic hospital for casting. She insisted on ordering for all those “gadgets” to enable her child walk. I quickly switched my caps, from a mother to a pseudo therapist.
Please could the child lie on the therapy table? We both
examined looked at the child (it’s professionals that examine) We noted that both legs have developed contracture, one leg is shorter than the other by about two inches, an indication that there may just be some problem with the hips. Hm… we tired to support the child in an up right position, it was not possible, the trunk muscles probably are too weak. Ok madam, is it possible we seek professional opinion for this child before you do all these? Hm.. well, let me make them first, we’ll be working with them until we see doctor. S e’bi you know that when you go they will give you three months appointment. I could not convince her. She wants the boy to walk so much so that she fails to see any other thing on the child. The boy talks, uses his hands, could we concentrate on what he can do? I often tell parents and myself that faithless as it may sound, some of these our angels may just not walk. But they can if assisted and encouraged do things that can put some “well” children to shame.
When I consider Ziim’s needs to live a life as happy and independent as possible, the skills and accomplishments I consider in order of priority are;
For her to have self confidence and love herself (warts and all, like they say)
Ability to communicate and develop relationship with people
Ability to carry on self care activities like dressing, eating and use of bathroom
Ability to get around, from point A to point B
I want her to be happy for I know that if she does not love herself and have self confidence it may be difficult for her to be happy. I am trying to teach her skills (as much as her level of involvement allows) that will help to make her happy. I have been able to know that she loves music, I take her to musical concert when I can and we try to do this
So you can understand my feeling of vindication when I read the story, that our angels need not necessarily walk for them to fly. Or what do you think?