‘Buddy’ is determined to WALK!!! I am so excited to be typing these words. What an incredible gift! For him to be this healthy. For him to be so cognoscente. For him to be so determined. I am so honored to watch this process.

It started about a month ago with some very cautious pulling up. Then it got serious two weeks ago when he got good at pulling up but was frightened of getting back to the floor. Every five minutes or so he was pulling up somewhere new and fussing to let me know he was stuck. I made it my mission that weekend to teach him to sit back down. Every time he pulled up he would giggle at the accomplishment. Slowly the giggle would get more stressed as he got tired of standing and scared of sitting. I aimed to get to him just as the fun of standing started to peter. I would then place my hands on his hips for reassurance like a spotter in a gymnastics class, and talk him through it: “You just need to bend your knees. You can do it. I’m here if you need me.” By the end of the weekend he had it.

Next step: cruising. Typical kids cruise by moving their legs in a sideways stepping motion while facing a support structure like a couch or coffee table. ‘Buddy’ would turn his body so he could move his legs forward, which was much too hard for him. His Occupational Therapist wanted us to work on weight shifting side to side. He needed to organize his head around how his body should feel when doing this, so that it would become a tool in his movement toolbox. ‘Buddy’ LOVES Row Row Row Your Boat, so we do it A LOT. I decided a while ago to take advantage of this by adding verses to work on skills. So we added a few new verses all of which he now does while standing and holding my hands;

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

Twist, twist, twist your arms
Twist them left and right
Twist them here and twist them there
Twist them everywhere
(to work on alternating movement)

Fly, fly, fly away
Way up in the sky
Fly here and fly there
Like a butterfly
(to work balance and trunk movement)

Reach, Reach, Reach Up high
Way Up to the Sky
Reach, Reach, Reach Up high
Way Up to the Sky
(Shift weight to left foot while reaching up and left, then repeat to right, back and forth, only within the range he is comfortable with. I sing this verse slower to allow him time to control the new movement.)

It made a big difference. In one week he started cruising. It is still slow and takes conscious thought on his part, but he gets it, and he wants to master it, so he keeps at it.

In talking with his teacher we decided that we should get ready for when he breaks free of furniture. There are so many toys out there for little one to walk behind and push, but they are made for kiddos half his size. So it was time for more adaptions. I went to a local consignment shop and found a little cart that seemed adaptable and bought it for $25. Then I headed to Home Depot for some 1x2, wooden dowels, and some hardware for another $25. I had them cut the pieces down to size and went home to get started. My first version is a little rough, there were mistakes in my calculations…We have not been sleeping much lately…silly kids want to work at night too…but I got it working well enough for a trial version.

My basic plan was to make attach 2 dowels to the 1x2s to make a wooden handle structure with a series of hole along the sides so that it would be adjustable up and down to grow not only with ‘Buddy’ but also with other kids in his school as I plan to donate it to them when he is done with it. Then once the height is set, we will load it with sandbags to make it heavy enough to support their larger bodies. ‘Buddy’ is not quite ready for it yet, but I am happy to say the other kiddos are enjoying it, although we may need to reinforce the axles…we’ll see. It is a work in progress, much like everything in our lives.

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