James came to Grandview Kids when he was just over a year old. Here, he met his Physiotherapist, Winnie, to improve his physical skills. In his early physiotherapy sessions, James and his mother, Hayley, practiced skills he had never worked on before. The movements were new and challenging to James. While experiencing difficulties, he would cry to let his mother know that he was outside his realm of comfort. Hearing her son vocalizing his discomfort was hard for Hayley.
After continuing to practice and seeing James’ progress, Hayley recognized the importance of not giving in. She wanted to see her son succeed and achieve his full potential. This shift in progress was the ‘turning point’ for Hayley. Moving forward, Hayley wanted to be the strong figure she knew her son needed to achieve his full potential. This is a lesson Hayley wants to share with other families who may be in the same situation. She tells her story below and hopes to inspire others with her experience and James’ progress, thanks to the incredible support of his Physiotherapist, Winnie.
Read James and Hayley’s full story below:
Things I wish I knew then, that I know now
Written by Hayley Duncan
From the very beginning, James had struggles, and as a mother, my instincts were to keep my baby safe, free from harm and discomfort. I began to anticipate James’ every need because he was struggling day-to-day for reasons out of my control. I did everything in my power to control whatever I could to provide him with some comfort and relief. When I met with Winnie at Grandview Kids for our first assessment, James was around 13-months-old. At this time, he was not able to sit up on his own, let alone rollover. James spent the majority of the appointment comfort nursing as I explained his first year of life.
It was apparent that James needed a significant amount of support, and that’s when our journey with Winnie began. When I think back to this time, and to where I am now, all the things I have seasoned through and how much growth James and I have had, I wish I could go back to our very first session and tell myself to be strong ‘like a rock’ and push. I wish I could tell myself that we both would get through this, and come up on the other side.
Three things I wish I knew then, that I know now
1. In the beginning, there will be crying… a lot of crying. For our littles, this is all new to them. Physiotherapy is hard; kids don’t want to do these hard things, and crying is how they let us know. Once I realized that: a) this was not in any way hurting him, it was him telling me, “it’s hard, Mom;” and b) if I did not toughen up and be strong for him, he was going to make NO progress. It was my job as his mom to push him when he needed the push, or I was holding him back from reaching his full potential and having a better quality of life. Every time I would stop a session to comfort James, I would teach him that if he would cry, Mommy would just put an end to it. These habits are hard ones to break and can be a big downfall as you continue with care. Two years into speech therapy, and I am still trying to correct habits like this. I can assure you that as time goes on, the crying will be less and less, and then one day your child will enter a session willingly.
2. If you do not practice what is taught in the session, progress will be slow and stagnant. Once a week, or every two, is not enough to learn these huge skills, but repetition enables this. It’s so hard for special needs parents to stay on top of it all, but time needs to be set aside for progress to happen. I could shake my old self about this one; I still have some guilt hanging around.
3. Sometimes, progress is minimal. It is a slow, slow process, and then sometimes there will be a leap. Whatever the case, try and keep a level head. And, if you can truthfully say, with an honest heart, you are doing everything you can in that moment, then find comfort in knowing it will come. I’m so proud of James (and myself!) for how far we’ve come.