Today we had a visitor from the Department. I’m guessing it was someone quite senior, as they were permitted to choose what they saw. It may have been an inspection. VIPs often visit and sometimes we go through all the preparations to present things in a fancy way and then they don’t even come in to where we work.
Back in the old days, I would be told to hide all the equipment (standers, walkers and strollers) behind the building, so everything looked clinical and clean. The children and I would be on the mat with a few toys and I’d be limited in what I could get the children to do, because to progress we need to get them up and active.
Over the years, those in charge of the ward have reduced how much has to be removed, but (here comes the first noticeable part) today I was asked to get out two big items and have children using them. These were the new giant floor keyboard and the blackout tent with the space blankets in. I was also able to keep much more of the equipment out. This to me is huge! Those in charge wanted the children to be seen doing and engaging in activities, to be playing and succeeding. Eureka!……Wooohhhoooo!…..We are getting there.
We didn’t know when the visitors would come or where they would go first, so we had a full morning of activity. Everyone was playing either upright in standers, in the electric wheelchair, using walkers, on the peanut therapy ball or prone lying on the wedge. Some were lying on in the tent, while others were lying on or walking rolling wheels over the keyboard and much happy noise was heard.
On arrival at the ward, the head physiotherapist remarked ‘Wow, so many options of things to do and play with!’ to which the head ward mum smiled with pleasure. All these reactions and the visitors genuine interest in the children seems to be reinforcing the concept that these children can be seen as people too. It’s taken many years, but today it feels like it has been worth slogging away at what we’ve been doing.
We even got some social time with Miss K, Mr G and Mr B around the table playing. There were squeals of joy, they all giggled and fake burped and they were in stitches. I do love those social times when some can support themselves and the interaction is electric.
When the visitors arrived on our ward, Mr B went on the peanut and balanced well, which impressed them and then he showed his one-handed supported walking skills up and down the keyboard keys, giggling with delight.
The kids all worked so hard and were so busy that many slept loads in the afternoon. Mr S did the most, as he had been in the electric wheelchair for ages without one crash and had done a jigsaw and played memory twice.
The only sadness was that I was aware that Miss N would be unlikely to manage without a grump if I engaged with others and that scenario was not going to present our successes well. Thankfully Mr B stayed in and slept in the afternoon happily and Miss N came out for some one-to-one time, ate amazingly and then stretched well. She worked hard sitting crossed legged and on the ball and had some time in the tent. She was also asleep within 20 minutes of going back in the ward.
It was a really pleasant day with the kids. In the morning I had one extra for a time, as he was a perfect charactor to be in the tent as he roamed about and then did some standing. In the afternoon, I kept one child out who went to the nurse for a new feeding tube. I fed him and he enjoyed some time in the stroller playing with the spinner and watching the world. Then another child came back from Physio and asked to go in the side lyer and then the beanbag. He joined Miss N and I and we had a nice conversation about the usual topic….. “Frozen”. Even our kids with their sheltered lives can get hooked on “Frozen”.
After all was tidied away and the equipment brought back up on the ward that had been moved out of sight, I was ready for home.
One other noticeable moment today was when the head ward mum of my ward actually turned to me with a big smile and said, ‘Thank you’. This is the first time she has shown that she has been pleased with me doing more with the children and valuing them being active.
My mum, Sally, and John were back from Bangkok and clearly tired from much fun sightseeing, so they rested in the afternoon. Their final full day with the kids at Bann Fueng Fah is tomorrow, as they travel home to England on Friday evening. I believe they have had a good time, both seeing Thailand and seeing how the work of 1Step2Step is done. I know both have found being on the mats physically tiring, but in a way I’m glad they have a real impression of the work.