Ben’s first grade year at Elmont Elementary was one great strides physically. He continued to get stronger and with the help of AFO (Ankle Foot Orthotic) braces he was able to stand and walk without the use of his walker. Ben will always have a halted gait that is common for many who have cerebral palsy, but it hasn’t held him back too terribly.
His goals for this year were as follows:
To improve his upper body strength as well as fine motor skills to make it easier for him to sit and write in a classroom environment.
To walk longer distances without using walls for support. To begin stepping over objects 4” high and wide.
The speech therapists that we were involved with during Ben’s first few years at school were very engaged. They thought, as I did, that we were going to unlock some door in Ben’s brain and he was going to start talking. We knew that Ben was much more advanced cognitively than any testing was giving him credit for. Getting him to speak was the key to a high-functioning Ben. However, as a back-up we continued to explore augmentative communication devices and signing to cover all of our bases.
I was happy with Ben’s placement in his first year at Elmont. His teacher was not long out of college and still had an abundance of energy and a desire to make a difference. As the year wore on and Ben’s behavioral issues continued to manifest, I saw a lot of frustration in this young woman. I worried that she was ”burning out” as so many teachers who take on this monumental task do. They have a difficult job; much more difficult that one would imagine.
Ben was doing well, but I somehow feel that we missed some opportunities with him in this first grade year. We worked very hard on his communication skills, but he just did not progress as I had hoped.
Next up….The big news. A new beginning.