Antonio Dominic has spastic diplegia. He has very spastic legs. But his worst problem is his arms. His top half is athetoid, so the more he tries to do something, the wilder his arms go, shaking and jerking. Being athetoid is a really hard thing to live with. He is a most patient person, though, and has struggled hard to compensate for his wild arms. If he picked up food in his spoon, and attempted to bring it to his mouth as he sat upright, his arm would give a mighty jerk, and the food would fly all over the place. This was discouraging. For a long time, he wore weights on his arms at mealtime, thanks to his physical therapist, and that did help stabilize his arms, but it did not fix the problem well enough for him to successfully feed himself. He eventually learned to feed himself, by anchoring his elbows on the table, anchoring his wrists to the bowl, and lowering his face to the bowl. This was not particularly attractive, but the alternative was even less so. Tony has one of the sweetest personalities I've ever seen. Cheerful and patient by nature. Who could really mind such a sweet little guy, bowing before his meals!
For the first several years, he would tend to do the same thing over and over, or repeat the same nonsense syllable over and over. At three years old, he especially liked to lie on his back in the kitchen doorway while I cooked, and say slowly, "maaa ... maaa ... maaa ... maaa," over and over, waving a toy above his head. He'd be smiling, and he was so cute, but this could become somewhat irksome. So I would move him to another part of the house. He didn't mind. He could not crawl yet, nor sit up without support either, so his ability to entertain himself was limited. But he enjoyed watching his brothers and sisters! He could be found, dragging himself with his elbows, on his tummy, all over the house, following these enchanting people that were now his own family! He would laugh, and laugh, until he couldn't catch his breath, just watching them run and play!
Tony's brothers and sisters tried to teach him hide and seek, but every time he was hiding, when someone came close, he would burst into laughter, and give himself away! He understood the concept, but could not contain himself, it was just too hilarious! In later years he could do it, but even then, he'd be covering his mouth with his hands, and shaking with silent giggles! He learned to get around on his hands and knees, hopping like a bunny. This bunny hop was not the way he was supposed to move. It was bad for his hips and knees.
His school physical therapists and I worked endlessly with him, getting him to put one leg forward at a time, in a four point crawl. A proper one. The trouble was, when he crawled properly, he would tip over frequently, and bang his face on the floor. He preferred to do the dreadful bunny hop. Both hands forward, then drag both knees together. It was bad for his hips and knees, but that was his favorite way to go.
After he got a power wheelchair, he used it for all kinds of things, but still he preferred the hop. He could pull himself up and reach places he could not reach from his power chair. He could be on the floor where his sisters and brothers were, instead of in a seat above them. I could see his point. But it was great for going for a walk with me, and for sailing quickly through large stores. I had to watch him though, because he did not seem to have any depth perception. Twice, he drove right off a curb, before I could catch him. The chair tipped over forward, banging Tony's head on the cement. He didn't even have quick enough reflexes to put his hands out to protect his face. It scared me to death. He never even got cut. God was watching out for my son! Believe me, I became an exceedingly watchful helper!