9 year old boy with a movement disorder (Ataxia)
Oscar completed a two-week intensive with Step by Step where he received an hour each of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy every day. While Oscar had early therapy, he no longer qualified for school based therapy in his home country of New Zealand.
The intensive started with a comprehensive evaluation by each discipline. The therapists met and discussed how to best approach therapy for Oscar and how to use the same strategies across disciplines such as the use of compression garments and weights to improve awareness.
It quickly became clear to the therapists that Oscar had vision difficulties that impacted his function in all areas addressed in the intensive. Oscar was subsequently referred to a specialist. The very first thing that was done, was to make sure that Oscar was fitted with a compression garment that helped with alignment and awareness of his trunk. This intensive required strong team work between the therapists working with Oscar so everyone could reinforce the strategies that worked for Oscar.
Oscar made incredible progress in all areas addressed, here are some examples:
In occupational therapy, Oscar mastered a much improved pencil grasp resulting in improvements in hand writing and overall hand control.
Oscar struggled greatly with handwriting and was very reluctant to engage in handwriting while at school.
At the end of the intensive, Oscar had learned many strategies to improve his handwriting and he was proud and eager to write.
In speech Oscar learned that he could pronounce words clearly when singing and he learned much better breath control resulting in a great improvement in speech intelligibility.
This is a speech sample from the first day of the intensive. Oscar's speech was difficult to understand for the unfamiliar listener and his mother often had to interpret.
The speech pathologist asked Oscar to sing Happy Birthday. Singing is a novel activity that engages his brain differently and what a change in intelligibility!
Please read Oscar's mother's description of her experience with Step by Step Intensives and Oscar's progress on this site:
About 8 month’s ago I saw a Ted talk of Dr Karen Pape and the work case studies she had on neuroplasticity and CP kids. Contact with Dr Pape put me onto Pia and then a few months later here we were on a plane traveling over from New Zealand. I was excited that finally we had a chance to do something proactive. I was also a little scared to get my hopes up in case what I believed Oscar could do was only something that I thought and that perhaps my goals were not realistic.
The gains Oscar has made in this 9 days of the intensive has led me to tears on more than one occasion and that is not something I’m known for. He has never written with anything other than a dagger grip but on day two he was writing with a proper grip and was so excited about it. To hear him sing Happy Birthday better and clearer than he could say it was out of this world. To watch him walking up and down steps independently only holding on with one hand was amazing. Where I had hoped to get a few things worked through and a plan in place we just saw phenomenal change across so many things that it is hard to believe it was possible.
We leave knowing that we will have a plan of achievable goals for Oscar to work towards. The things we have learned about Oscar and what makes up his entire picture - vision, speech, gross and fine motor function - is outstanding. I have learned more in this time than I have from all my developmental peadiatrician, rehabilitation paediatrician and neurologist inputs in the first 9 years of his life
We will definitely be back as this team have nothing but love, encouragement and real solutions for Oscar and that is something that I’d move heaven and earth to get to.
Time to celebrate