Countless families have handicapped children at home and cannot get them any care because of the difficulty of transportation. We are putting a program together to provide an itinerant teacher to perform physical and other therapies with these children. Training the parents is also a critical part of this mission since the therapist will only be in the home a few hours a week. Without parental involvement, there can be no progress.
We once met in the home of a moderately retarded boy, who clearly has potential to walk and talk. His mother had taken him to the city to Handicap International. They taught her how to perform exercises that will loosen and strengthen the boys limbs, none of which she has done. They also provided her with custom leg braces, valued at $1,000, to support the boy in standing. They were never used and found lying in a corner covered with clothes. When I told her how important the braces and exercises were to the boys future development, she said, “I know. I heard the same thing from Handicap International.”
It is often hard to motivate overworked parents. Often the attitude is “What’s the use?” Add to that the shame and guilt which often goes along with having a handicapped child and it is easy to see how some children never progress.
We will soon advertise for a physical therapist to start our in-home service to the handicapped. We plan to work with at least 20 children per week for an hour each. The initial investment is small and the monthly costs will be about $200 for salary and gasoline (which costs over $6 per gallon!)
Each child will receive gross motor training such as muscle development, flexibility and walking; fine motor training such as grasping and self-feeding; and speech therapy such as oral development and signing.