This week instead of having our usual physical and occupational therapy at TEAMability, we did aqua therapy at the pool at St Mary's University with the therapists from TEAMability. Ryan has always enjoyed being in water and so he has been really excited all week for today's session. When we are getting ready to leave, he gets really impatient and vocalizes the whole morning for me to hurry up. I'm never quite fast enough for him on therapy days.
When we first got in the water, the therapists gave us a Neck Noodle. I had never heard of this device, and at first, Ryan didn't particularly care for it, but when he discovered it's usefulness, he really liked it. With the Neck Noodle, He could really have freedom to float with just me holding on to his back for just a little stability. (And, it's possible that I might have needed that stability more for me than for him.)
Next we put a life jacket on him backwards and upside down. You can see what that looks like in the picture below. Then to give him a little more support, we put a pool noodle in through the arm holes behind his neck. This really allowed him to float entirely on his own. In the picture below, you can see by Ryan's face that at first he was a little unsure about it. I also was a little unsure about letting go of Ryan, especially when the therapist started pulling him through the water by his feet without anyone holding onto his head.
But, that was only the beginning of my anxiety...
Then we put him face down in the upside down backwards life jacket, which took a team of people to do.
Then the therapist positioned Ryan at the edge of the pool with his arms holding on to the edge of the pool. She had her hands over his hands and another therapist was pulling his legs out. He was positioned kind of like little kids are when they are learning to kick in the pool.
This wasn't his favorite part of the therapy and it looked like he could just slip into the water.
This also created a little anxiety for me. Mainly because I couldn't reach him and the aqua therapist was much more comfortable in this situation than I was. But, again, my anxiety hadn't reached it's highest level yet ...
While the therapist, Beth, was showing me all kinds of things and positions, Ryan made what we call a raspberry noise. Ms Beth responded by blowing bubbles in the water, which encouraged Ryan to do it again. Now, I don't usually consider myself too hovering but I OH, MY! How I wanted to grab my child!!! But, I didn't! And, I'm so glad I didn't. Ms Beth blew bubbles in the water and Ryan obviously wanted to do the same. Before I knew it, as she was explaining the positioning of his head and airway, Ryan's mouth and nose was going under water! And, Ryan was blowing bubbles!
He was so proud of himself! Then Beth changed the activity to try something different and Ryan was MAD, and that was the end of aqua therapy for the day. There was no going back. He was just simply mad.
It was fun to listen to him tell the family about his success blowing bubbles, and his frustration with being moved on before he was ready. I can't wait for the day when I will be able to fully communicate with Ryan. I know he will be able to teach me so much.
I'm thankful for Diane, Ryan's nurse, who took these pictures while I was in the pool with Ryan. We are really blessed to have her as part of our team. And, I am so thankful for therapists who are talented and willing to believe in Ryan and see his potential. Because of them, Ryan blew bubbles today!