My schedule the last month or so looks a lot like this: therapy and coloring.
There are about 15 kids that I have been seeing regularly, following up on the evaluation that I did with Maura and Nicole… attempting to harness their “OT-powers” to help these kids with both their physical and occupational therapy needs. It really has been an amazing experience for me to work with this population of kids because several of them have pretty rare conditions and very intense symptoms. It has been so cool to get to know them, to understand what makes them tick… the see the personality and spirit that underlies their disability. I think this is one of my favorite things about my job as a physical therapist. It often feels overwhelming when you first meet a child with special needs, especially one that is very involved. But I am always impressed by how human each one is. How we can develop inside jokes, even the most basic things that start to connect us. To see that light in their eyes, the life. To realize that sometimes, if you really open yourself up, they can teach you as much as you can teach them. How to be in the moment, how to laugh, how to love.
I have been working like crazy to develop the treatment/recommendations for all the kids and have started training the tias and other personnel. But have not been too busy for some serious coloring sessions on the side. Like I mentioned there are 70 kids at this orphanage. I officially work with 15. That leaves a cool 55 roaming around, watching me “work” (pediatric therapy pretty much looks like playing… we have lots and lots of fun) with the kids. This leave 55 kids who ask me 2-3 times a week “when are you going to work with me?” So, I have found a way of squeezing in 10-15 minutes work sessions 1 time a week with the majority of them. Usually a huge group amasses, which means we usually have to do something quick and easy and lucky for me they love to color. We have done some pretty creative things with paper, crayons and a few other simple items. Like I said, it has a lot less to do with what we are actually doing, and more that I am taking the time to do it with them. To give them the opportunity to play and some kind words of encouragement for a job well done.
If there is one thing that I have learned in this experience, its creativity: how to use the limited resources that I have to reach the therapy goals and to relate to the kids. Its way more about your attitude and energy level than what you have in your backpack. So in that respect, I’ll just keep reaching out to these kiddos one coloring book page at a time. Kind of like this….
oh…. and we spend lots of time blowing bubbles too…
happy (and hopeful) coloring