(Aidan had another teaching gig recently with physical therapy students. This is a repost from his gig last year. To read more about Decision Wheelchair check out my turn in a chair, thoughts about the manual chair, and power chair and why even have a wheelchair?)
A few weeks ago Aidan had another teaching gig with a class of physical therapy students. They were learning how to administer a motor function test. Aidan had to attempt a variety of tasks (lying down, sitting, reaching, crawling, walking etc) while they gave him an appropriate score. They have to be really exact as to how much assistance he had.
They had never met Aidan before so they didn’t know what he’s capable of. It was really amusing to watch. They very politely asked him to do all these motor tasks. They politely encouraged him. He politely looked at them like they were crazy. “Why would I do that? What’s in it for me?” or “That’s too dang hard and I just don’t want to.” And therein lies the trick – motivation and purpose. Aidan doesn’t do ANYTHING just because someone wants him to.
This picture was taken after a very kind student asked Aidan to lie down, a sort of scary task for a kid who doesn’t like to be off-balance. This student wisely got on his own tummy to encourage Aidan. He tripped up by asking, “Aidan, will you lie down?” instead of, “Aidan, I need you to lie down now.” Do you see the difference? The first request got a definitive shake of the head, but it hadn’t really meant to be a request. This very polite student asked several more times, realizing each time that he was unintentionally giving Aidan the freedom to say no…which he did. If I recall, someone else intervened and said, “Aidan, I’m helping you get down now.”
There is just so much to learn. Motor movements, testing, communication with patients and families. It takes time and practice and I’m glad they had the opportunity to interact with Aidan, stubborn though he may be. They got one of the most important things right…the least dangerous assumption…just because someone can’t speak doesn’t mean they can’t understand or think. They talked to him and treated him like the smarty pants that he is.