A story about Dimitris, a boy that became a confident learner and do-er!
By Panxiotis Siavelis (Παναγιώτης Σιαβελής),
Please get ready for a story about Dimitris, a boy that became a confident learner and do-er!
With the children in my private practice, I work in an evidence informed manner, so when Psychomotor Athens offered the first CO-OP workshop in November 2018 in Greece I was interested, attended the workshop, and became a CO-OP inspired therapist.
My name is Panaxiotis Siavelis (Παναγιώτης Σιαβελής) and I live and work in Kalamata situated in the south of Greece. I would like to share a story with you: a story about Dimitris, 9-and-a-half-year-old boy diagnosed with Developmental Coordination Disorder. He has several issues in “doing” and at home is unwilling to do anything alone. Dimitris has a particular issue with riding a bike and he could only manage to ride with training wheels. He tells me confidently and with a lot of emotion that "I can't ride a bike".
So here we are in Spring 2021.
I suggested to Dimitris that we do an experiment. We started with CO-OP intervention focused on riding a bike and on catching a ball, because he also wants to become a goalkeeper. I suggested to his parents to try and stay back when possible and ask more questions/play stupid rather than giving directions. Dimistris has speech difficulties and can’t easily organize his thoughts into speech. He had a hard time answering open ended questions but he did better if my questions had some possible answers, like "where" or "which first".
My first question was "what's your plan, how do you ride" and he said "I go up, turn the things and that’s it". I said "do it" and he sat up, lifted both legs at the same time, and fell! I used questions to guide him to his discovery: "should you use both legs simultaneously" and he said yes, so we tried that a few times but he kept falling. Then I asked "you keep falling to this side when you start. How could you fix this" and he said " I’ll keep my one leg down". Then he had difficulties accelerating from scratch, so I asked which would be the ideal position to start pushing the pedal from, and he chose one. We even had to focus on when should he lift his second foot from the ground and onto the pedals. He had tremendous problems keeping himself straight up when moving, so we spent two hours with me stopping him from falling sideways as he decided to which side should he bend his head so as not to fall sideways (although I think he found the solution to not falling sideways implicitly and the time he spent experimenting on the bike was more important). We also had to discuss where his standing leg should step, so as not to fall sideways when stopping, and how not to be hurt by the pedals when the motion was started from the other leg. Brakes were easy, although he mostly has on and off mode; we are still trying to find the "middle" mode so as to decelerate without stopping when going down hills.
After a total of 5 hours of intervention, including sessions at home, he proudly tells me today that:
Yesterday, for the first time in his life, he had gone for a bike ride with his friends, without training wheels or his dad's support.
The most touching thing is not that Dimitri declared "I can ride a bike!", nor the glow on everyone's face. What is more important is that Dimitri felt that he could, and even did it in a way that gave him the opportunity to seek out and find his own solutions to whatever he was struggling with.
And that sense of "can", no matter how hard or slow it germinates, is so deafening and so ready from the first moment to engulf the world that it throws you into the clouds!
His parents seem happy and expressed that they actually needed the given directions earlier in their lives, it is also life changing for them!
July 2021 a short update:
My little client with the bicycle success, has learned a lot of stuff he couldn’t do before, such as tying his shoelaces, being able to flip over his socks and T-shirts, handling a knife successfully, climbing a tree and yes this all mattered to him! This all is discovered together with me using the CO-OP Approach.
But, for the first time in his life, without me teaching, last week (we are in July 2021, some months of CO-OP intervention already, around 15 sessions in total) he asked his parents to let him have a shower alone! So far he would only stand and mom or dad had to do the washing. And …..he did it fairly well alone, first time, without having been taught how to do any of the actions needed! Feels like it’s the first time he actually went for it alone, solving any problems that needed to be solved, confidently thus successfully!
Well and me ….. I just do my job and I have to say I also make a lot of “mistakes” with him, but what helps me: I check and adjust!
Below is a short clip from our facebook page of Dimitri riding his bike.
Ο Δημήτρης είναι 9μιση χρονών και έχει Αναπτυξιακή Διαταραχή Κινητικού Συντονισμού. Δυσκολευόταν πολύ να κάνει ποδήλατο, τα κατάφερνε μόνο με τις βοηθητικές ρόδες- και με έμφαση και σιγουριά μου δήλωνε "δεν μπορώ να κάνω ποδήλατο". Χρειάστηκε συνολικά 5 ώρες παρέμβασης (μαζί κ στο σπίτι) για να έρθει σήμερα με υπερηφάνεια να μας δείξει αυτό, αφού χτες, για πρώτη φορά στη ζωή του, είχε πάει για ποδηλατάδα με τους φίλους του, χωρίς βοηθητικές ή την υποστήριξη του μπαμπά του. Το πιο συγκινητικό δεν είναι ότι ο Δημήτρης δήλωσε "Eγώ μπορώ να κάνω ποδήλατο!", ούτε η λάμψη στο πρόσωπο όλων. Το πιο σημαντικό είναι ότι ο Δημήτρης ένιωσε ότι μπορεί και μάλιστα τα κατάφερε με έναν τρόπο που του έδωσε την ευκαιρία να αναζητήσει και να βρει τις δικές του λύσεις σε ότι τον δυσκόλευε. Και αυτή η αίσθηση του "μπορώ", όσο δύσκολα ή αργά κι αν φυτρώσει, είναι τόσο εκκωφαντική και τόσο έτοιμη από την πρώτη στιγμή να καταπιεί τον κόσμο, που σε εκσφενδονίζει στα σύννεφα! #COOP #DCD #EVIDENCEBASEDPRACTICEPosted by Ιππόσχεση Καλαμάτας on Monday, April 12, 2021