A couple of weeks ago, I set up a parent-teacher conference with Max's preschool teacher. School has been in session for about a month now and I wanted to get his teacher's opinions on how Max is doing, generally. Max started the program in late January of this year, and we've seen great progress, most noticeably in his communication/speech. And, because this is a program primarily for kids with orthopaedic handicaps, the teacher is incredibly knowledgeable about how to facilitate movement with the end goal being independent mobility. She has been a tremendous resource for me in terms of understanding what Max's needs are in the areas of gross and fine motor skills, more helpful than his therapists have been. And it is usually during our conversations, short or long, that I gain new insights not only about my son, but also about myself as a parent of a child who has CP.
Here's the most recent one: ever since Max started crawling (just before his second birthday), we've been pushing for him to walk. By "we", I mean myself, my husband, physical therapists, doctors. Our thinking was simple, "Now that he's crawling, the next step is obviously to get him up on his feet." What we didn't take into account is all the incremental milestones that need to be met in order for him to be strong enough to even consider taking steps.
What his teacher, and watching my daughter, have taught me is that Max will "walk" in his own time. Of course our hope is that he will eventually be able to walk independently, with or without some assistive devices. But, it will be when he is ready; not simply because we will it to be so. When Jozey started walking independently, there was never a question in our minds that she would, so we just let her do what she needed to do to learn about how her body works. We've never done that with Max. With every new functional skill achieved, we've kept pushing and pushing for him to get to the next one, without realizing that he needs time...time to get used to this new skill and make it his own, before he's open to a new experience. I have been imposing MY timetable on his development, rather than allowing his development to progress organically. Certainly, intervention IS important, and necessary. Early intervention is why we are where we are today. But, there has to be a balance between intervention, and allowing Max to be a kid and enjoy what he is capable of.
Max has been pulling to stand quite easily, and now is strong enough that he cruises furniture and is even making attempts to stand without any support. Of course, we're thrilled! But, what's more significant is the look of satisfaction and pride on his face when he does these things alone -- without coaxing, without someone standing over him telling him to do it. Every so often, I'll hear his voice from the kitchen saying, to no one in particular, "Look, I did it all by myself!"