Nicholas, a.k.a. Nick, is a little boy that’s full of energy walking around the therapy reception area like he owns the place. As he walks, you notice Nick’s slightly jerky gait, each step seemingly overemphasized as if effort is made to work his legs within their stride. He wears glasses with lens thicker than most, accentuating his big brown eyes even more. His tousled hair is curly, but short enough that it looks wavy. His mouth protrudes as his lips are always open, an effect of dysphagia. Nicholas struggles with swallowing, which is automatic for you and me. Because of dysphagia, Nicholas sometimes has saliva hanging from his bottom lip of which he is unaware unless reminded by his maternal grandmother which he calls "Mimi." When Mimi says “Nick, swallow,” Nicholas seems to slurp the saliva hanging back into his mouth. The first time I see and hear Nick do this, I’m reminded of a long-tongued reptile catching a fly into its mouth. And I chuckled a time or two because sometimes, Nick would just simply take his arm sleeve and run it across his mouth to wipe it off. He’s definitely all-boy.
Nick’s features, his speech, his physical presentation distinguish him from other children his age, but his mental acuity and personality outshines any physiological deficit he has. Upon arrival, Nick walks past the Pavilion’s reception check-in area to move around the corner to enter Kay’s (Green Therapy Pavilion's business manager) office. Here, they carry out their weekly routine in which Nick goes to Miss Kay’s desk to call his physical therapist, Sue Carder, to announce his arrival for his appointment. Nick and Kay visit until Sue comes to get him for his session.
Nick is a sharp kid and very little gets past him. I’m later told by his speech therapist, Michelle Clouse, Nick scores above average on the cognitive scale. Sue and Mimi also tell me Nick asks everyone he meets what kind of car they drive, and how he remembers it weeks after collecting the data. Mimi shared that once while driving around town, Nick pointed out a Buick announcing that was the car that Miss Sue drives. At my second observation, Nick remembered not only who I was, but greeted me by name. I know adults, myself included, who can’t remember someone’s name after one meeting! Nick never asked me what kind of car I drive until later when Mimi and Sue pointed out to him he hadn’t asked. My vehicle information is now stored in his data bank.
The entire building knows when Nicholas is “in the house.” After a few sessions, Nick brings in those “World’s Finest” candy bars students sell as a school fundraiser. In this task, Nick unleashes his inner salesman. Upon arrival for his appointment, he immediately is asking Kay, Sue, me, and anyone who walks by if they want to buy a candy bar. When someone asks how much they are, he tells them “They are one dollar, but you can get five for five dollars.” Nick brings his candy bar inventory two weeks in a row, and within ten minutes over two appointments, he’s cleared at least twenty dollars in sales. Word on Campus is Nicholas won several of the top sales prizes at his school.
In spending time with Nick, I enjoy getting to know his mom Carol, as well as his grandmother, affectionately called Mimi, and his therapists, Michele and Sue. Nicholas is truly the mortar cementing these relationships between us, and I have no doubt countless others. He’s a kiddo that fought against all odds to be in this world, to live the life God gave him. I have no doubt he has some life purpose to be fulfilled all in good time. But today, Nicholas enjoys his life and all that he’s able to do with it and within it. He gives his best (usually) in therapy to improving his abilities, with a determination that seems ready to take on the world.
After all he’s been through since birth, I can only imagine that taking on the world would be a piece of cake for Nicholas.
In the Next Blog Entry: Chucky Cheese or BUST! - “. . . . I offer my hand to Nick, which he takes and asks me if my name is Carolyn as if he’s logging the information in a databank. . . . .”
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