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SOESD / Learning Matters / Newsletter Archive / March 2008 / Dignity and Independence—I can do it myself!

Dignity and Independence—I can do it myself!

By Michael Friedl, SOESD Physical Therapist

Oftentimes, for able-bodied people, the ability to perform functional life skills such as bathing, grooming, going to the bathroom, and other self-care activities is taken for granted. We do not realize the range of skills necessary to complete a task efficiently and successfully. Physical Therapy intervention focuses on these specific issues and assists students in learning how to become independent in their self-care needs. This is an integral part of the school routine even though it is not a part of the school curriculum for most students.

Fabiola is a 1st grader at Talent Elementary School. She is immersed in the dual-language Spanish-English program and is loved by her classmates. Fabiola has Spina Bifida and has limited movement in her legs and feet. She has no sensation below her stomach and cannot feel pressure, light touch, or temperature. This year Fabiola has made some significant strides in her ability to use the bathroom with a greater degree of independence.

She needs assistance from an educational assistant but Fabiola will lock her wheelchair, remove her seat belt, hold onto the educational assistant in the transfer process, and assist with her clothing. The bathroom is equipped with toilet bars that are fastened directly to the toilet. These bars allow Fabiola privacy because she uses them for balance and safety when sitting on the toilet. Fabiola realizes how important this simple task is in her daily routine. She is highly motivated to be independent and this translates into her strengthening program that will facilitate her independence at home and at school. It is exciting to be part of this learning process and provide therapeutic interventions that have a positive affect on a child’s lifestyle.




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