Change is in the air. Autumn is a crisp, beautiful season instilling energy as we prepare for the coming winter. Harvest is gearing up. Animals are storing food for the winter. It’s a busy, productive time of year. The energy in our house is downright exciting.
OurHome Studio is comprised of two artists. Joshua Englehaupt is a disabled artist. Birth trauma left him with cerebral palsy. He has never known anything different so whatever he chooses to go after, he forges ahead with confidence. He knows going into a project that he’ll have to get the job done in whatever way he can manage.
Carol Englehaupt (me) is his mother but I’m also an artist and a published author (C.L. Roth). From the day Joshua was born I turned my creative talent to finding ways to help him. For the most part, the items we needed were either inadequate, or non-existent.
But life changes. Opportunities show up, goals grow, and doors that were firmly shut begin to open. Non-verbal for thirty-five years, Joshua is gaining control of his tobii/dynavox eye-gaze computer. Last week, he let me know he was thirsty. A fact I immediately forgot. As soon as he got in front of his tobii, he told me…thirsty thirsty thirsty.
I immediately turned to head for the kitchen to get him some juice. Behind me I heard: “thank you”. That seems like such a small thing but those words struck me right in the heart. My son told me thank you. Its a huge thing. Those words tell me that my son will become a functional conversationalist. All he needs is practice and opportunities to talk.
We’re working with an occupational therapist because the wheelchair mount for his computer is shaky. I’m pretty sure we didn’t put it together right and we needed help in figuring it out. Joshua needs a voice everywhere he goes, not just at home.
I very seldom have the ear of an occupational therapist so while we have her attention we’re laying out other problems for her. I want Joshua to be a more independent artist. More him, and less me. Right now, I have to hold his arm when he paints.
To keep Joshua’s hand from smearing his artwork I hold his wrist, or his arm, depending on the size of his project. He holds the brush and makes the strokes. We have plans to find a sling that would attach to his chair and hold his arm for him. If the sling would hold his arm up then I can keep my hand off and Josh could learn to paint without outside interference.
In the above picture Josh has a really good grip on the brush. This isn’t always possible. There are days when his muscle tone is poor and his hands aren’t as functional. It can take longer for him to grip the brush than make the stroke. It’s an incredibly time-consuming, frustrating procedure.
Thanks to the occupational therapist, she helped us locate an item that may help.
This is a T-bar. It came with a brush already in it but the little screw on the side will allow us to use other brushes. We’ll probably have to adapt them but our lives are nothing but adaptations. We use whatever works.
The OT will help us put straps on so if Joshua opens his hand he won’t drop it. Between the T-bar, and the sling, we’re moving ever closer to Joshua being more independent.
We’re sharing the journey as it happens. Life is never black and white. Doors are never locked; they just stick sometimes. There is always a way to follow your chosen path. Sometimes all it takes is coming up with a Plan B. We’re masters of the Plan B method of accomplishing goals.
I’m going to be energizing the websites this year. If you haven’t already signed up for the mailing list, please do so. We have big plans this year. I intend to keep everybody in the loop. It would be very helpful to us if you share our websites and URL addresses. Becoming visible is the biggest hurdle we have to overcome. Sharing our stories will help us a great deal. Thank you for stopping by. We love comments and respond to them all.
We are putting on online store on the websites. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet but a store is coming very soon.