This week I had the privilege to follow up with a sweet girl that I had placed in a little car driven by a joystick. At her “eval” this fall, she flat refused to trial a power wheelchair, but was willing to sit in my cars. I first gave her a big switch to press, and quickly she figured out that if she pressed it, the car would move forward. We then progressed to several switches, each controlling a different direction for the chair to go. Finally, we tried a joystick, and she quickly took off driving the car down the hall. But since she couldn’t demonstrate being able to drive or even tolerate sitting in the power chair, she was assessed instead for a manual wheelchair.
I sent her home with a little car to drive inside and promised the parents I would be getting a car for outside soon. The car for outside would have a wider base, and be closer to an actual power wheelchair. Yesterday, before I could even get her fastened into the new car, she was reaching for the joystick to take off. She did not mind that it was higher up, or drive faster.
On a hunch, the staff agreed to let her trial a power chair that they had there (the same one that she cried in before). This time she took off, and wanted to explore the functions of all the buttons! She will have a formal power wheelchair eval soon, and hopefully, she will get her power chair right after she turns 3.
The whole goal of Early Wheels is to give kids movement experiences when they don’t normally get that chance. As you can tell by the size of the power chair, it is much bigger than the sweet girl and pretty intimidating. But I really feel that being able to ease into it with vehicles much more her size has helped her to be able to adjust to being in the big power chair.