If you watch a well child throughout the day, you see just how active he or she can be. Since David is unable to do many of the things a well child can (yet!) the idea is to allow him to do as much as possible in order to provide plenty of sensory input to his healing brain. As we continue to discover new exercises and therapies for David, time management becomes crucial. It requires planning ahead and most definitely a strategy... but more on that later.
I'd like to give a little glimpse into David's typical day. In total, we do about 80 different things with him. After we initiated a program following the guidance of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, we had to have a checklist. Excel spreadsheets proved unsuccessful for us, as the day seemed micromanaged and if an activity was missed, the pressure to get it done increased.
Now we have a dry erase board mounted in the main hallway of our home. It is a giant checklist that makes it easy for anyone passing by to prioritize and get things done.
David is fed six times a day through his mic-key button. Feedings generally run about fifteen to thirty minutes. His diet consists of a blenderized mix of organic brown rice cereal, a green veggie, an orange or yellow veggie, two types of fruit, a protein, molasses, oils, hemp milk, and various supplements. Here is a photo of his food and accessories:
Syringe and tube, plunger, 2 oz. water, 5-6 oz. food
Next on the checklist is "slides." One of the major components of the program is the inclined floor, which looks like a giant slide. My dad built an excellent one as soon as we found out about it. David is placed at the top, on his tummy with his head first and gravity works to help him down the inclined floor. As it becomes easier for him to make his way down, the height can be adjusted. The goal is to bring the incline to zero. Here is David, doing a great job!
The slide not only helps with mobility, it provides rich tactile input. David gets to experience how it feels to move along a surface, all the while, he is receiving visual stimulation from the black and white pattern on the sides of the incline floor. We usually do five slides at a time, each one taking no longer than two minutes. A minute between each is used for vestibular motion, more visual or auditory stimulation.
Vision is a huge part of David's recovery. The term "cortically blind" is a term that is familiar to many parents of brain-injured kids. Doctors say that anatomically David's eyes are fine, but the visual information is not being processed or recognized by the brain. The exercises we do are designed to to get those messages through successfully. At least ten times a day, one of us takes David into a completely darkened room and shines a pen light on the wall. He looks at it for 60 seconds. It always reminds me of being in a darkroom, as the product of light exposure is anticipated...except this is no photograph. It is David beginning to recognize things in his environment!
Throughout the Day, David has constant visual access to high contrast black and white images. Here are some that really get him going:
And here he is in front of his well-worn checkerboards/Donnie's dance floors:
Lately he has really been reacting to the checkerboards. This afternoon he got super excited about a pinwheel. Everything is an opportuniy for sensory stimulation. Here are a few more visual toys:
Pen lights, push light, spinning light globe
If David is still awake after Donnie goes to bed, I set up his light box in the living room and we play with a variety of high contrast shapes and patterns:
David has really been enjoying the images on this website.
So far I have covered some of the major aspects of David's day, although every little thing can be significant. I can't begin to fathom what is happening in his brain right now, but I know it is intense. The best we can do is provide enough quality input for brain growth. According to the Institutes, the brain grows by use! I am convinced that all the information David takes in during the day is being processed while he sleeps. On that note, I think I will get some sleep too.