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The Freedom of Wheels

January 21, 2014

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
― Mother Teresa

It’s finally here. This was not an easy decision, but perhaps it wasn’t quite as hard as it could have been. You can click here for the story on that, on how we decided it was time to get Mary a wheelchair.

She is doing great in physical therapy. She can do ten minutes on a treadmill at 1.3 miles per hour. For her, that’s a sprint. For an adult, it’s a leisurely toddler pace. After ten minutes of focused walking with no distractions, my girl is cooked. That’s it. But it is awesome. It is so much more than she could do before, but we are still left pushing her around in an off the rack stroller for most outings. But she is four. She’s a big girl being trucked around In a baby’s stroller. And even though it is the biggest one we could find, she is outgrowing it. Her positioning in it is less than ideal. And she is pushed around with little opportunity for her to control where she is going.

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Well, today that changed. Today, we picked up her new chair. (And it’s green! Just like she wanted! –see the back story. 😉 ) Once we wrangled the new chair into the minivan alongside her old stroller, we headed to the mall to take our new wheels for a spin.

We got pizza at the food court – she could wheel right up to the table, no sitting on my lap, no slumping off of an oversized chair or squeezing into an undersized high chair or slouching in a stroller. A big help for a girl who has a history of swallowing issues.

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Joyce and Troy enjoyed their pizza too!

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She goofed off in the family bathroom with her big brother while we waited for her big sister. (Mirrors are way too much fun)

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She got to see the mall in a whole new, far less enclosed way.

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And then, on her first outing with her new wheels, she decided she was done having her big brother be in charge of where she would be going. She took the wheels in the toy store. And that, my friends, is so much of the point. She needed a bigger stroller, yes. But this, this wheelchair, gave her that little edge of independence that she craved. And suddenly, all that worry about the stigma, all that worry about what it would mean to give her a wheelchair after spending so much time and energy trying to prevent the need for just that…. None of it seemed to matter anymore. Because my girl had that smile of determined independence. She won’t need it forever. But for right now, it is perfect for her. For right now it is just one more tool in our box that can give her a taste of that independence that we are working so hard to give her.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. autismschild8 permalink
    January 21, 2014 11:20 am

    It is a tough decision to make, because like you say, there is such a stigma involved – or there can be. We are approaching the position where we are going to need to go for a wheelchair. Like your daughter, my son doesn’t need one all of the time, but he cannot walk for far enough or long enough for us to be completely without one. The problem is trying to find the right one to suit our needs and our budget. I am so glad that your daughter enjoyed her new chair and her new independence.

    • January 21, 2014 6:16 pm

      She loves it. We are very fortunate in that our health insurance plan took care of the cost, so we could really concentrate on just getting her the best chair to suit her needs. I don’t know if that’s an option for you in the UK? We had a physical therapist evaluate her and helped up order one that was customized just for Mary. For us it was a combination of positioning and independence. If you can be honest with yourself about your son’s abilities and needs you should be able to make a good decision. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to ask other special needs parents, which was really helpful. Good luck!

  2. January 21, 2014 11:21 pm

    Adorable children! I am glad she now has her “special” chair that will give her some independence!

    • January 21, 2014 11:46 pm

      Thanks! I think it’s going to make a big difference for he. 🙂

  3. January 22, 2014 10:06 am

    your children are adorable and you are an amazing mother. God bless you and your children.

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