Not the high school kind of graduation. Or even the middle school or elementary type. But this is a graduation that I am ecstatic to be celebrating with Sunshine – she has officially graduated from Physical Therapy!
Although we expected she’d be somewhat physically delayed when we brought her home last June, we truly weren’t prepared for the extent of her delays. At just over one year old, our little Sunshine could sit like a champ. But she could not roll over. She could not get to a sitting position from laying down. And she certainly couldn’t crawl. In fact, we’re convinced she was never put on the floor based on her reaction to us trying it. We could leave her sitting in the middle of the hotel bed in China without fear that she’d find a way off. She was completely immobile and relied on us to do everything for her. We simply weren’t prepared for her complete lack of mobility because she had been cared for in a loving foster home and physical delays were not part of her diagnosed special need. She had very low muscle tone (a common issue), and that made it even more difficult for her to catch up.
Once we brought her home, she started rolling over within a few weeks and was scooting all over the house within a month! And then unfortunately, her progress kind of halted. Throwing in multiple cleft surgeries made it more difficult also. We had her evaluated by Infants and Toddler (the county program), and they assessed her at about 6-7 months old physically. We were assigned a wonderful physical therapist who came to our home once a week for 7 months. The visits were never happily welcomed by Sunshine. She screamed for the entire 45 minutes for weeks. I always enjoyed seeing Sunshine’s therapist, but I truly dreaded the visit itself. It was exhausting! Slowly though, Sunshine warmed up to Trisha and although she rarely let her touch or hold her, she didn’t get upset every time she came to visit.
With a lot of work, Sunshine made slow progress. She was quite resistant to “therapizing,” as I called it, but I got used to being a therapist 24 hours a day with the tools Trisha gave me. I could turn almost any situation into a therapy moment, although Sunshine was less than thrilled about that. There were many tantrums and stand-offs over those months. But over time Sunshine began to feel comfortable enough to take steps on her own. And when she was about 20 months old, Praise God she started doing the cutest little penguin walk! She has continued to show progress and now at 23 months, she walks all over the house with ease.
And with that progress came the time to say goodbye to Trisha. I was sad to say goodbye … but oh-so-glad that we were in a position to not need her therapy visits anymore. Because no matter how silly or crazy fun Trisha may have been, Sunshine just didn’t buy into her antics and was very resistant. Trisha was always so amazingly wonderful and just rolled with Sunshine’s lack of enthusiasm. A fellow believer and adoptive mama herself, she was a perfect sounding board for me and always just got it. I will most definitely miss her and am so grateful she was the one to help my daughter grow.
Sunshine still has more work ahead of her, but it’s less intense and stuff I didn’t feel we needed continued therapy visits for … things like learning how to kick and throw balls, walking (not crawling) up and down steps, climbing, and walking in the grass with ease. I think we are well on our way with all of those milestones and I am so proud to see her “graduate” from Physical Therapy!