Friday, November 20, 2009

Making A Difference

The entire reason we are alive is to make a difference of some sort. Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of this when we get to wrapped up in ourselves.

But I do have to say making a difference, in even the smallest way, is one of the greatest feelings ever that can leave one so incredily marked in a good way.

Working with Ethan these past few days have been amazing. I only get to work with him for three hours, four days a week, but that week it meant nine hours of me being one-on-one with him.

Ethan is in wheelchair bound and "non-verbal". He eats out of a feeding tube though he can chew and swallow and though he is four years old still wears diapers.

Cerebral palsy is hard to explain. It's like autism in that it encompasses a wide range of muscle problems and is caused by such a huge array of things that it's hard to explain but it affects the muscles and is caused by impairments in the brain via the nerves.

But Ethan is amazing to work with. He can't talk but he's so smart, when he gives choices. And he "talks" to us, he "talks" to me. He uses it via his eyes and his smiles. If something is a yes or desired, guess what.....there's an amazingly huge smile bestowed upon you. If it's a no or not desired, then no smile!!

On tuesday I got to start working with him one-on-one when Diane wasn't there and I had no choice but to learn hands-on how to exactly lift him and transfer him and change him, etc.

Since then I love working with him. I love being the one who gets to help him express.

Yesterday we had our Thanksgiving feast in which the kids got to help us "cook" some corn, instant mashed taters and instant gravy and then we made turkey & cheese kabobs with lunch meat and cheese. We had sparkling cider and store-bought cornbread and I baked a couple pumpkin pies.

On tuesday Ethan worked his heart out wanting to stand all day long (which is quite the exercise for him) and then also playing catch with a soft OT ball for him. On Wednesday he had OT with Mrs. Jenn who made him walk all the way down the hall and he played catch. So needless to say on Thursday he was really tired. It was very apparent that he was exhausted as he didn't have a desire to really stand at all and his little face just looked so worn out.

So it didn't surprise me when he told me through giving him choices that he wanted to sit. However, he was VERY adament that he wanted to sit either in my lap or in the chairs like the other kids and NOT in his wheelchair. His little eyes basically frowned at the picture of the wheelchair when I gave him that choice. So I sat behind him and held him like a seatbelt in the chair so he could eat with the other kids and participate in the activities or in my lap if we were down on the floor. He loved it!!! It made him so happy to sit with the other kids for the first time since I've been there rather than in his wheelchair. He loved being able to have that option!!!

But honestly, the whole point of me pouring this out is coming up. Before snack time or eating in this case, we always have to wash our hands. Because Mrs. Diane was usually with him and Kendall and myself and the other para were busy with our other 15 students, he usually stayed in his wheelchair and he never went to the bathroom to wash his hands. Basically it was because I'm not as good at the routine of everything like the others are so if Mrs. Diane or Mrs. Kendall was with him, they were still needed to help as we have 15 very energetic kids with their own issues. But as I (the least routinely-adapted one) was with him, I found I wasn't really needed too much as they are able to handle it. So I decided to start making it my goal to helping Ethan to do whatever the other kids are, because it's apparent that he wants to be normal just like them. So I suggested to Kendall that we put some soap in his hands and I would carry him to the bathroom and support him while the other para helped to rinse his hands in the sink. So we did it!!

And the excitement on Ethan's hands from being able to wash his hands like his classmates was the best part of my entire day yesterday!!! I got to make him so happy by simply helping him to wash his hands like the other kids. I did a simple act but made such a huge difference in his life yesterday by simply sacrificing myself to help him wash his hands and then sit in a chair like the other kids.

It was great to do such a small simple selfless thing that can really make such a huge difference in someone else's day.

That's the point of life and what I love to live for, helping others to make a difference in their life :)

Not to mention his little smile is so incredibly worth it!!

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