We are finally looking into assisted mobility options for Malachi. This is a little late, I think, as he is two and a half years old, but in following the Anat Baniel Method, we have been wary of devices (like standers, walkers, etc.) that put him into positions he can't get into himself.
But after a visit with a very impressive and knowledgable ABM practitioner in early December, she told us that Malachi could use some practice with his legs. She recommended a KidWalk walker and we were lucky enough to find a local family willing to let us borrow one for a few weeks.
Malachi didn't really do much in the KidWalk, but when I took it in to our PT to see if he could adjust it, he suggested a Mulholland Walkabout. Wow! What a difference! Malachi was walking all over the place!
Here's me trying to act like this is no big deal that he is WALKING TOWARDS ME all while jumping for joy on the inside. (Never mind that he is actually just interested in playing a puzzle on the iPhone that I'm recording him with)
One thing that has encouraged me on our journey is that every time we do put him into these sorts of devices he does much better than he did before. This proves to me that you don't have to use these devices in order to learn the motor control needed to operate them.
But is the converse true? Would he learn the control faster if he did use them?
I don't know. And it haunts me.
But I have decided to trust in several sources that have led me to believe that in using this equipment he will learn bad habits and a fear of falling that will inhibit further growth. I have always struggled with this ABM injunction from using equipment. But after being able to take the Walkabout home over the Christmas weekend, I wonder if maybe I understand a little better why it's better for me not to have the walker around.
I would put him in it, and he would just stand there. Or cry. Or ask me to get him out. It was so irritating to me that he wouldn't just walk around like I had seen him do at the hospital. So, I would push him and turn it into something that wasn't fun and self-empowering. Malachi is really sensitive to being "pushed" to do things — probably because he has a very pushy mother. The second it would seem like I was asking him to walk, he would recoil and do even less.
So I think for now we need time to grow together. Malachi will need to feel a little more confident in it and I will need to feel a little more relaxed about it. (Considering the months-long waiting periods for obtaining devices like this from insurance companies, I don't think this will be a problem.)
I do have hope for this mobility option though. Our other PT suggested it as a way to have a power wheelchair without the stigma of a power wheelchair. He found a kit online of a way to convert these regular (and relatively inexpensive) toy cars to have push-button controls that Malachi could use and a harness so he won't fall out. I took the boys to Toys R Us to try a few out and was surprised at how well Malachi could sit up in (an unmoving) one.
Of course, this will be little more than a toy. Soon we will have to get a fully functional option that he will use in school and out in the world. And maybe I can hope that one day he'll look as confident and independent as this one day: