Annie learned how to crawl on all fours when she was 18 months old in therapy. It took a lot of time, hard work, and a lot of screaming but she mastered it. We had worked so hard at learning how to crawl that we hadn't given much thought to walking. After all, you have to crawl before you can walk right? And at this point Annie wasn't even able to stand by herself... or so we thought. One night while we were working with Annie we got her up onto her feet, steadied her, and let go. Low and behold the child stood all by herself! It was a mere 2 or 3 seconds but it didn't matter to us, we thought she was so strong and made sure she knew how proud we were of her by going into a cheer fit and smothering her with hugs and kisses! We got her up a few more times and she continued to show off for us. As we watched her we realized that her ankles were very weak. We thought if we could just somehow get her stabilized a bit more maybe she could stand for longer. Our idea - purple winter moon boots (I know I'm dating myself a bit by saying moon boots right?). Well, we strapped those boots on her and brought her to her feet and what do you know, our plan worked! Annie was now able to stand for a good 10 to 12 seconds!! More crazy proud parent moments! Now that Annie had proved to us that she was able to stand all by herself the next logical step was to start taking steps. We grabbed a little tykes shopping cart that we had for the kids and placed her hands on the handle bar and started moving the cart - Annie's first steps!! What excitement we felt knowing that Annie was capable of taking steps. We worked so hard at this every single day, hours and hours and hours of getting her to her feet, helping her grip the shopping cart and slowly pulling the shopping cart until her feet would step forward. Annie continued to improve, she was able to stand for longer, her walking time increased and eventually she was able to push the cart all by herself and was essentially walking with assistance. [Sidebar: the boots and the little tykes shopping cart are still the best "AFO"'s and "gait trainer" that we have ever come across - and the most economical too!] Annie has always had trouble sleeping so while we were going through some really rough sleep patterns we tried to channel her energy into therapy. Typically trading off bringing Annie down to the basement at all hours of the night and getting her up to "walk". Back and forth from one side of the basement to the other, its a wonder she didn't wear a path on the carpet. Since the time of Annie's first steps we've had strong days and not so strong days. Weeks when we have spent hours on therapy and weeks where we hadn't had time to spend even a half hour, but the goal has always been the same - to get Annie to walk independantly. Through the years we have seen Annie get stronger, have more stamina, improve her gait, learn how to weight shift, and just recently we have gotten Annie to bend her knees when she takes a step (try taking a stepor two and be very concious of all that your body does just to put one foot in front of the other - now praise God that He has allowed you to walk). Walking would open up a whole new world for Annie. She would actually have a little bit of control in her life - walking where ever she would like, not to mention that it may be a bit easier on mom and dad not having to carry her everywhere. But walking is also weight bearing exercise which is so good for Annie's thinning bones, not to mention how much it would help with her scoliosis not having to be sitting all the time. We have made walking a priority for Annie and have tried to do everything we can to help her. We do most of Annie's home therapy in the basement (aka play room, work out room, craft room). We work with her a lot and still to this day use the little tykes shopping cart. Now that Annie is so used to be up and on her feet and is much more stable than her earlier years we are confident in her abilities and don't have to be directly behind her to catch her when she falls (although we'd never dream of turning our back on her). This has allowed us a little more freedom when we are doing therapy and me, being the busy mother of 3, I'm constantly looking for ways to multitask. Sooooo, we've decided to have our workouts together! I get Annie up on to her feet, help her grip her shopping cart and then I hop on the treadmill! It's wonderful! We both get in our workouts and I don't feel the motherly guilt of having my daughter just sit while I'm running. I set Annie up close to me so I can watch her the whole time and I'm able to hop off the mill if I see her start to fall. I also hop off from time to time because she's not able to turn yet so if she hits the end, I just turn her around! We have a lot of fun together, I shout out to her how much time she's been walking and she just giggles and smiles! We have been increasing her time slowly and just yesterday she stood/walked with her cart all by herself for 30 minutes!!! Annie is amazing!!
Annie with her "boots" on - getting a little kiss from her cousin!
Our strong girl today!