By Wendy Harron - July 2, 2012
Most of us don’t realize how important focus is to the development of gross motor skills. Jumping, running, walking, throwing a ball – they all require some amount of focusing skills, especially for those who have a medical condition which impacts the development of those skills.
Yesterday, I was working with a wonderful young lady who is 13 years old and has Diplegic cerebral palsy and uses crutches to walk. I asked her to stand on a 6” wide balance beam while reaching across the center of her body to hit a switch. At first, her arms were flailing, and she just couldn’t get her balance. But, after I helped to stabilize her and started the exercise she became very proficient. Instead of her thinking about falling over, she began to focus on the task at hand- hitting the switches to the beat – and she became very stable. After the exercise was over she said “I didn’t know I could do that”! And she had a huge smile on her face. As the exercise finished, I asked her to remain standing, and then had her perform a few things like touch her head, shoulders, knees etc. These were things she couldn’t usually do at all, especially because she was usually utilizing crutches to stand or walk.
I am very excited to watch the progress of this young lady. Her PT has told me that she loses focus even as she walks throughout her environment, making it unsafe for her to navigate in busy places, up/down steps or curbs. I think we are in for a great increase in her functional skills which are so important at this age. Mom has been very pleased with her daughters progress and we are looking forward to our remaining sessions this summer.