Tough Love pays off with Miss B achieving independent walking!

Summer’s over and a new season has kicked in. As we brace ourselves for the cooler wet weather ahead, I thought it would be a nice opportunity to share a case study that will warm your hearts as Miss B embarks on a new chapter in life’s journey. 

Miss B is a gorgeous little girl with Down syndrome, who was 5 months old when I met her. Her parents were determined to do their best to give her the best opportunities in early intervention, so that she can truly fulfill her full potential in life. Right from the start Miss B’s parents were onboard with our treatment plan, believing and trusting in my experience working with children that together we will be able to help Miss B achieve her gross motor milestone equal to that of typically developing children. This meant that we aiming to achieve independent walking by 18 months old. 

Miss B on her initial assessment was rolling from her tummy to her back, but not yet rolling from her back to her tummy. While lying on her back, she only brought her hands to her chest and was not bringing her hands to her knees yet. In sitting, she had good head control when pulled to sit, but not yet able to sit with propped arms. When held in standing, she would weight bear on her feet, with her head in line with her body. She was not yet able to stand upright with her head and hips in line to take weight strongly on her feet. 

With supportive parents and consistent physiotherapy, Miss B very quickly learned to roll, sit independently and commando crawl by 10months old. Miss B then needed heart surgery and took a 6 week break from physiotherapy to recover. Once she was well enough, her parents had her back in physiotherapy. By 15months old she was taking steps alone unassisted and at 16months old was walking short distances independently by herself. However, we were not finished yet until she could stand up from the floor in the middle of the room without any support or assistance. By this time, Miss B’s parents knew very well that Miss B will protest and cry whenever we hit a milestone and then push her ont o the next milestone. So her tantrums and protests with each new stage of skills was nothing new. Yet when it came to this one final skill and milestone to achieve, the protest and tantrums were getting more prolonged and dramatic. Often these crying tantrums become physically exhausting for Miss B and her parents. 

So in her last physiotherapy session on 14th February, I was determined we had to stop the crying tantrums and set the boundaries for tough love in order for her to achieve her final milestone. Miss B’s father was very cooperative and supportive to decide we would have reverse time out for Miss B to understand that tantrums were not acceptable and did not mean that she could escape learning the task of standing up for the floor unassisted. After 3 goes of reverse time out, I noticed that Miss B settles quicker each time after her father left the room, but when he came back in she started crying again. So at the 4th reverse time out exercise, her father remained outside the room. The result was Miss B settled quickly and got to task with the exercises and activities I had planned for her. 30mins later when her father walked in, she didn’t bat an eyelid and continued playing. The next day, I receive a text message from her mother saying that Miss B is getting up from the floor independently! On the 23rtd February, I receive a wonderful video clip of Miss B merrily getting up from the floor in the middle of the room and walking around and squatting up and down around the room exploring as desired! She was 17 months old, a month younger than our set goal! 

Miss B and her parents are prime examples of what is possible with persistent consistent intensive physiotherapy in babies with Down syndrome. The journey wasn’t easy, the tears and heartache shed would have been many, but the outcome achieved is priceless. This is why we do what we do at My Favourite Physio. 

If you have a child with disabilities who is not yet reaching their gross motor milestones or is not achieving outcomes that you are hoping for, perhaps you need a fresh and different approach. Ring our clinic on (02) 9790 4233 to book an appointment with our Paediatric Physiotherapist and allow us to help you and your child overcome the challenges to achieve their best potential today!