FUNCTION, FAMILY, FITNESS, FRIENDS, FUN, FUTURE
When a child has a condition that impacts movement, communication, or processing a parent will seek any and all treatment interventions to help their child. In this 21st century, there are many robotics, assistive technology, and medicinal options that can support their rehab. As a physical therapist who has worked with many children through their childhood into adulthood, there’s a ripe time for each of these interventions, and you the parent, will determine when your child may be able to benefit from any or all of these interventions. However, when I saw the ‘F’ word being introduced by CanChild, Dr Rosenbuam, I realized that these are the essence of a child’s existence.
Function- what can a child do, what type of assistance do they need to experience the world around them
Family- Family-centered therapy where therapists collaborate with parents and involve them in goal setting has shown to be more effective and to have greater outcomes. You’re the experts, you’re the caretakers, and you are better able to identify what is challenging for you and/or your family. As a result, parents can problem-solve with their clinicians to explore treatment interventions and different ways to encounter obstacles and challenges.
Fitness-JUST GET OUT THERE AND MOVE! Whether it’s therapy or not, recreational activities can also be social events, and a change of position or a change in environment can have a positive effect on the lives of all families and children.
Friends- Encourage peer interactions. Friends for everyone, parents, siblings, and children.
Fun-Find out what brings your child joy and do it.
Future- As clinicians, we always think about the future and how we can maximize a child’s function. We recognize that there are daily challenges that parents face, but these early years are so important. They set the base of a parent seeing their child’s strengths, believing in their capabilities, and moving forward with a plan, and willingness to modify the plan as needed.
There are a variety of factors (economic, accessibility, time-consuming, fear..) that may prevent a child with special needs from experiencing events that other children their age are experiencing. The most basic event that a child can experience is ‘play’. I urge you to brainstorm with your physiotherapist about creating opportunities for your child to feel, see, hear, move, and touch on a daily basis. If they can’t move around and get there, bring that world into their space.
Just think about how these factors can help your child.
Dr Sharon Galitzer, PT, DScPt, MS, CIMI
Pediatric Physical therapist