Makes me Smile

Its been awhile since I updated Josh’s working out news. He still goes twice a week. He still works his rear off and does it all with a smile. I can’t figure out why his work out hours go by so fast and my work out hour drags. Hmmm.

I don’t have as many photos to share because I get so caught up in watching and helping Josh that I don’t have enough hands to take pictures.

Josh is still loving the weight bench. He’s figured out how to rotate his right arm in. He gets his elbow up to his side with impressive speed. Then he slows down and, without extending his arm our, is rotating his arm inward toward the midline.

I know this sounds like such a simple move and you wonder why I get so excited. But when you have a child with a disability, who has never before been able to intentionally tell his body to make a movement. When you watch the click that goes on in the brain first, and then that child makes it happen…I really can’t adequately describe the feeling. It’s a wild burst of joyfulness and praise all wrapped up in grateful.

And hands meet in the middle. Josh is making good progress in this exercise. He’s increased the speed and accuracy of the movement and he’s doing them three or four times in a row before muscles exhaustion brings on the reflexes and makes things difficult again.

We discovered something new on the floor exercises. Abbey has been working with Josh to squeeze a ball. She would help him use his arms to squeeze.

With his arms in this position Abbey always had to help him hold on. One arm would stay in place and push, the other arm would want to float. But this week, we discovered something really interesting. If we put his hands flat on the ball, mind blanks on how to describe this. Let the picture speak for itself.

By placing his hands flat on the ball, it triggered something. I don’t know what you’d call it but he pulled and look how the muscles popped on his arms. Great effort and both arms were working equally hard at the same time.

I don’t know how to describe to you what seeing both sides engaged at the same time means. Most often when Josh had to do something, if he’s using the right hand, the left arm retracts. and if he uses the left arm the right arm goes up. it’s like a push-pull kind of movement.

One the ball, with both hands flat, his brain was telling both arms to work, and they did. I am so hopeful that this exercise, repeated often enough, will help Josh gain control and be able to bypass those dreaded reflexes.

When Abbey moved to his legs, we decided to try another experiment. Josh moves his left leg easily but the right side is harder. It takes him longer to get it to move and he has trouble maintaining any kind of rhythm with it.

We placed resistance bands on the bottom of his feet. Abbey held the band on his right leg and I held the band on the left leg. I was hoping the bands would allow Josh to know where his feet are. And it worked. Josh’s legs took off and he was moving. Nice rhythm and nice speed. I don’t know why but Josh has always had trouble knowing where his hands and feet are if he can’t visually see them.

I am very hopeful that we’re learning a lot about how Josh moves and what sort of help he needs in improving that movement. I tried to get photos of the feet but the quality is so poor they are useless to share.

This was taken at the end of Josh’s arm exercise. Not a good picture but it shows his smile. He knows when he’s done something remarkable. I wish I could bottle up and pass around the joy we get during Josh’s workout sessions. He’s only been doing this for six months and what a change I’ve seen in him.

Not just in his physical body, although his body is measurably bigger and stronger. But in his confidence level. He’s so proud of what he’s doing. It’s made a difference in his outlook, in his motivation, in how he responds to other people. It’s made a difference in his artwork. He’s making strides toward being more independent. The energy swirling around him this year is a wonderful feeling.

I think about Josh and I just smile. I hope it’s catching and I succeed in passing the joy onto you.

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