Cate’s Words – Facilitated Communication

I have been talking a little about facilitated communication (FC) with Cate and I wanted to share an update. We started with the FC board after our last trip to http://www.iahp.org in March. It is taking time for mom and Cate to get used to the board but she is doing really well! (This is not to replace her speech but to help us understand her while she works on getting her voice.)

Facilitated Communication Board

Cate’s Facilitated Communication Board

Her first big breakthrough was in April. Not only did she show us she could use her FC board well she also showed us she is reading and comprehending advanced material. She told me, “I learned every ramp is an inclined plane.” Her exact words. Because she can read so much faster than I can I had to go back to the book and find the section she learned this from.

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Earlier this week she read several books in a series titled “How to Care for Your First Pet.” Every animal we read about she tells me she wants one as a pet. After reading the book about rats as pets she told me she would like to have a rat. When I asked what she would do with the rat she said, “sit and watch the rat play on a map, then feed the rat carrots.” 14 words!! This took her a little while with a few breaks but she was determined. Each week she gets faster on the board.

Cate and Charlie are reading about 35 books each week from the library. Because of Cate’s vision the letters in the books need to be 16 pt or larger (about 3 mm). We have officially read all of the advanced (2nd-5th grade level) books at our small local library and now we will have to go to the larger library branch in town. But first I need to find that one book that didn’t make it back into the library basket and is missing… Hmm, wish me luck.

I am encouraged by you readers and my friends! I have had several people with hurt and well children that are now looking at the programs they can do with their kids at home after reading about Cate’s successes. There are still a lot more to come but we are so incredibly proud of both of our kids!

Cate’s “New” Body

Cate crawling to the books she will read today.

Cate crawling to the books she will read today.

We have been doing Cate’s new program for about 6 weeks and there is a big difference! Besides learning that Cate can speed read commercial books independently (about 35 new books/week) her body is changing. Cate’s muscles are very tight, especially in her upper body. Typically kids with cerebral palsy that have high tone get progressively worse with regards to tightness. Although Cate is very tight she has slowly loosened since we started the program with The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP) about 2 years ago.

She can now open her hands and leave them open, she used to always have her hands closed with her thumbs under her fingers. She can sit in a high chair or carseat, she used to arch her back and scream in pain constantly. She can put her arms down by her sides, she used to have her hands up by her ears with her elbows out all the time. She can push herself up and crawl on her stomach, she used to hardly be able to pick up her head.

But we have never seen such a change as we have over the past 5 weeks. During our recent revisit to the IAHP in March she was programmed to start a new oxygen enrichment program that consists of her breathing oxygen and carbon dioxide at an 80% 20% ratio for a short time several times a day.  She is so loose that she is having a hard time sitting up in her high chair and carseat. She fell asleep in her carseat for the first time since she was 6 months old! She is letting us do her physical patterns with ease and a smile. Cate is loose, loose, loose! This is amazing but also a little shocking because we have only known her very tight. As one of her doctors at the IAHP said she will have to get used to her new “body”. So now the work begins for her to build up her muscles properly. We are very hopeful that the “80/20 masks” will continue to reduce her tone along with all the other benefits of getting more oxygen to her brain including improvement in speech, manual ability, sensory issues, and her crawling!

She told me today, through facilitated communication, that she loves her new masks and how it makes her feel. I don’t think I have ever seen her this happy throughout the day. Praise God!

Thank you to the people at the IAHP, http://www.iahp.org.