Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Therapy Cat

My son Nicholas is eight-years-old. He was diagnosed at birth with Prader Willi Syndrome.

Since that time, we have had him evaluated by the finest doctors in Boston. He has received extensive therapy programs. He's had g-tubes, back braces and foot orthotics.  And while all of these interventions have been very helpful; I can tell you without a doubt, that the biggest inspiration to my son Nicholas, has been the family cat, Bandit.

This poor fluffy fellow is almost solely responsible for my son's daily exercise program of walking, talking, jumping and most importantly laughing. Yes, life has certainly changed for Bandit since Nicholas joined our household. His once leisurely lifestyle has been suddenly transformed into a rigid regime of hard-core therapy for Nicholas. He is chased. He is massaged. He is harassed and cajoled. He has even sourly withstood a haphazard baby-carriage ride around and around the kitchen blanket and all.

But I think Bandit’s bravest contribution by far, was when my son began to learn to walk.

Nicholas did not have the strength and coordination to walk unassisted. His mind was eager to explore but his weakened body could not manage the task. He had taken a few good spills and was reluctant to try again. It was right around Christmas time that our physical therapist brought us a walker and suggested he try it. I cried and cried at the sight of this metal monstrosity. It was ugly, and institutional-looking, something you’d find in a nursing home not a playroom. 

But my tears of sadness were quickly replaced with tears of joy when I saw what happened next. My son's face sparkled as he eyed this shining chariot. He was not sad or embarrassed at what others may think. He didn’t feel sorry for himself. He knew this silvery new vehicle could mean only one thing…freedom. He grabbed the black plastic handles of the mini aluminum walker and like Ben Hurr maneuvering his trusty chariot; he headed immediately toward the cat. To Nicholas, this device was not a walker; it was the coolest cat-chasing machine known to man.

Well our poor cat nearly jumped out of his fur when he saw the silver streak thundering toward him. SCRAAAAATCH, went the sound of the metal wheels rumbling across our kitchen floor. And like Tarzan from the Jungle "ahhh ehhhhh ahhhhh ehhhhh ahhh" came the sound from Nicholas's mouth!

We all got very accustomed to the sound of those metal wheels scraping across the floor. We’d instinctively move out of the way as Nicholas roared confidently past. The only one who still hasn’t fully recovered is of course, Bandit, who had to endure the sight of that shiny, metal contraption barreling down upon him day after day.
It has been 6 years since our son Nicholas learned to walk and since that time, our once docile cat continues to sit steadfastly alert, waiting for his next therapy session.

And like a GPS tracking device, be it day or night, my son Nicholas can tell you exactly where you can find Bandit.

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