Pediatric Physical Therapy Through a Child's Eyes

By TLC Physical Therapist Candice Cartiaux, PT, DPT

"I am a kiddo and I have some special needs.  Every day starts with my mom showing me my daily schedule.  My schedule is made of labeled pictures that show me doing the different activities I will do today.  My mom puts them in the order we will do them, and sometimes I help choose what we will do first. What a sweet time each morning for my mom and me! I find freedom to relax and trust someone else to make my decisions when I am given instructions and shown what my day will be like.  I know what to expect, and I like that. 

A photo schedule by Milk Allergy Mom

Today is Thursday.  My mom shows me a picture of myself and my physical therapist as she tells me that I will have therapy this afternoon.  Every week on Thursdays, I have a friend who comes to my home to spend an hour with me.  Even though Mom calls it physical therapy, I really feel like it’s just my special play-time.  When my friend comes over, she always asks if I am ready to play, and even though I can’t tell her yes, my mouth smiles and lets her know that I am ready.  My friend prefers to play on the floor.  I enjoy this because I spend a lot of time sitting in my wheelchair at school during the day.  It feels good to stretch my body and have some space to move.  Though I cannot do much movement on my own, it is great to have the freedom to try. 

A child plays out of his wheelchair during a therapy appointment

My friend likes to take her shoes off and get on my gym mat with me.  My mom puts my favorite songs on the CD player while we play, and I like that my friend sings along to them.  Sweet music puts my body and heart at ease.  Even though we work through some of the same activities and tasks each week, my friend always tells me what she is about to do or help me do before she does it.  I don’t like to be surprised by touch or sound, so this gives me the chance to be mentally prepared and engaged.  

A kiddo plays with two therapists in his backyard at home

One of the biggest things my friend is helping me learn to do is roll over on my mat.  I am pretty good with using my neck to turn my head each direction, especially if there is a toy I like to see and hear.  I swear she can read my mind!  When I turn my head to look at my jingle bells, she says “bells” and shakes them.  I love being able to have a conversation with my eyes because it is very hard for me to form words with my mouth.  I know if I keep looking at the bells out of my reach, my friend knows that I really want to play with them.  She then uses the simple words, “Let’s Roll!”  I appreciate how she gives me more time to process what these words mean, because it takes a little longer for her message to move from my brain to my body.  Because I am already looking over, I can feel my body ready to roll, and we roll.  My body adjusts once I have rolled over, and from the praise I received from my friend, you would have thought I won an Olympic gold medal! It sure feels like it. 

My friend is not only helping me get stronger but also feel stronger.  The stronger I get, the more time I can have to play with my family.  And honestly, that is my favorite thing to do."

Physical therapy can be a fun part of a child's week, in addition to an important part, that helps them grow stronger and more independent. TLC therapists invite kids to PLAY with them during sessions! If you would like to learn more at pediatric physical therapy for children birth - 12, or about pediatric therapy integrated into a preschool setting, contact TLC at (303)776-7417