Friday, July 18, 2014

Aligning Body & Spirit

Every Catholic remembers his or her First Communion, a rite of passage when at six- and seven-years old, you join your church community in becoming one with the body and blood of Christ. Nicholas needed help from his physical and speech therapists at Wendell Foster’s Campus to overcome two challenges for this life-changing spiritual event.

In physical therapy (PT), he and Miss Sue practiced the mechanics of receiving communion. They focused on his approach to the priest, the proper positioning of his hands to receive the “body of Christ,” in this case, pieces of torn paper, then his turn to receive the cup of wine. For two PT sessions, they focused on his body movement to ensure a smooth transition between these two simple tasks. One of his two challenges down.

Nicholas experiences extensor tone, a movement pattern causing his body to jerk backwards when anything approaches his face. He also has dysphagia that interferes with his ability to swallow easily food or water. Using practice communion wafers and grape juice in speech therapy, Nicholas actually rehearsed with Miss Michele receiving the bread and wine. His first goal: eat the communion wafer in thirty seconds or less so he could drink the wine. His second goal:  simply taste the holy wine to his lips, which is required for first communion, but optional after that. Drinking the wine was Nicholas’ biggest challenge for a few reasons. First, he has to keep his head from recoiling when taking the wine goblet to his mouth. Second, he must concentrate on closing his lips around the goblet rim so he can get the taste of the wine without spilling it. Finally, he had to overcome his distaste for the fermented grape juice!
With practice and support from both his therapists, his efforts paid off! Nicholas received his first communion at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church on May 4th without any problems. He and his family appreciate the time and effort that Sue and Michele took to help make this special day a success for Nicholas.

Friday, July 11, 2014

For the Love of Animals

“Did you know that cats have mini-spikes on their tongues? It helps with their grooming,” explains Jamie when asked what she has learned at Towne Square Animal Hospital. Jamie loves animals and is a “proud mama” of five cats. She did some volunteer work with a local animal shelter but things were not going well. Direct Support Professional, Kelsey Arnett, started researching other options that better supported Jamie’s passion. Thanks to Towne Square Animal Hospital, and veterinarian Dr. Damon Cecil, DVM, Jamie received the opportunity to hang out and watch what goes on behind the scenes of an animal hospital.
For six weeks, Jamie visited the animal hospital every Thursday for two hours. She loved every minute of it. “We watched a hip joint replacement on a dog, another one get spayed, even dental work on a cat.  Oh, and we played with the puppies, they are so cute!” Kelsey adds, “It is tight quarters in the work area, so we were like flies on a wall. All the staff and vet techs were wonderful, and willing to answer Jamie’s questions.”
More importantly, Jamie learned that there is more to pet ownership than petting and loving on dogs and cats. “She better understands the responsibility of being a pet owner, what is required to take care of them. Jamie took the information she learned and is applying it at home with her own cats.” In mid-August, Jamie will spend time at Towne Square Pet Resort where she will learn about grooming, and help staff care for its boarding clients. Jamie, and Wendell Foster’s Campus and its Michele P program, are grateful to Dr. Cecil for giving her the chance to learn more about what a vet does. “He’s the nicest vet I’ve ever met.”