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.

1 comment:

  1. I witnessed this event and it was wonderful. I know Nick practiced a lot and he was very proud of himself for this wonderful accomplishment. His family is very proud of him too! Congrats Nicholas!