Thursday, January 9, 2014

Something From Nothing

I sent this video to Collin's developmentalist for his last NACD evaluation.

If I try hard, I can imagine what this might look like to someone who doesn't know Collin or who isn't familiar with any kids who have CP or other special needs affecting movement: random, uncontrolled, maybe even sad.

But when I first saw it, I knew it was something big.

Of course, my first reaction was a gut-clenching thought that that big thing was seizure activity. Even after all of these years, it's a fear I can't shake.

But once I realized that he was perfectly aware of what he was doing, I watched him closely a few times and then looked for a chance to capture it and show it to someone.

When I skyped with the developmentalist, the first thing he told me was the word he had written down when he saw the video: typical.

Not movement resulting from wonky tone issues or just random brain activity. But muscles moving in direct response to messages from the brain.

To give you an idea of what a big deal that is, I have to take you back to Collin's younger days. I remember an early intervention therapist coming over and trying to motivate Collin to do something. She didn't say or do anything earth-shattering, but as I watched her doing all of the movement for him, I thought, "He can't hold his head up. He doesn't even know his head is there. He can't do any of the things that come with no effort to typical kids. Other kids have instinct and natural development as building blocks for developing skills. How is he supposed to find any motivation to take even the tiniest first step? It's like asking him to come up with something from nothing."

And so it has not been the walking or the talking that has preoccupied my thoughts when I thought of Collin's development over the years. It has been the discovery of his own body, of his ability to control it, and his consequent discovery of the world around him. In a word: motivation. The movement of eyes toward a face. The flick of a finger on a piano key. The conscious movement of arms and legs.

It's true that he's done things in the past that seemed to showed bodily awareness - standing, riding his tricycle - but they have all been things that were initiated by cues from me and only involved a few muscle groups. They were responses. This is self-driven exploration.

Something from nothing.

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