Tag Archives: Physical Therapy

Adaptations and Services I’ve Used to Overcome My Disabilities

Last year, I wrote a post describing my limitations in as much detail as I could then. I got the idea from a disability discussion E-mail list that I was a member of in like 2004. The next discussion topic on the list was to go into adaptations you’ve used to overcome your limitations. Today, I will share about these.

As a toddler, I seem to have gotten by mostly without adaptations. I did have low vision, motor ipairments and was socially a little immature, but nothing too dramatic. I did have many colds until my tonsils and adenoids were removed at age four. I also saw a lot of specialists. For example, when I was about four, I was seen by some kind of rehabilitation physician because I neeed a cast on my left foot. I got lots of physical therapy and other early intervention too. However, I attended a regular preschool and Kindergarten until I fell apart in the spring of my second year of Kindergarten. Kindergarten always takes two years here, but I didn’t finish my second year because of needing to go to a special school that didn’t have a Kindergarten. Instead, I started in first grade early.

At around this age, I mostly got adaptations for my fine and gross motor impairments. For example, I got adapted scissors to be able to cut shapes out without needing to exert too much strength. I also got a large tricycle funded through the local disability services when I was about eight. I’m confused as to where my parents got the necessary doctor’s signature to get this mobility equipment. I mean, I must’ve seen a rehabilitation physician to declare that I had a severe enough mobility impairment, but I wonder whether the ophthalmologist agreed I had enough vision to cycle safely.

Of course, I did have some adaptations for my vision at this point too. I started reading large print in first grade. In fact, I had taught myself to read at around age five with large rub-on letters my Mom would put into little books for me.

By the end of first grade, I had to learn Braille because my vision was deteriorating. I got long keys on my Braille typewriter so that again I didn’t need to exert as much strength. For reading, at first the teachers would provide my Brailled assignments with double line breaks, because I had a hard time with it otherwise. Eventually, I could read Braille just fine, but it didn’t become my preferred reading method until I got a computer.

I still did use the vision I still had. In fact, I stll do, even though I only have light perception and a little light projection left. At age ten or eleven, I got a handheld magnifier. I remember using it to see the large print atlas we had in fifth and sixth grade, even though I really couldn’t make out anything on it.

By the time we moved across the country when I was nine, my parents stopped taking me to medical specialists. There was nothing to be done about my eyesight getting worse and worse and I no longer needed specialist care for my other disabilities. That is, this is my parents’ version of the truth. I think they may be right but there are some things that just don’t add up. Like, from age twelve on, I was accused of deliberately having an odd posture. Guess what? At age fifteen, the school doctor discovoered I had scoliosis. I had to have physcal therapy again.

At age thirteen, I started regular secondary school. I was functionally blind by this time and did my schoolwork on a computer with Braille display. I also got tactile graphics for the STEM subjects and tactile maps for geography. I also got lots of other nifty math tools, most of which I could barely use. I couldn’t even use tactile graphics much at all.

Like I said, I was discharged from all medical specialists at around age nine. At nineteen, when I graduated secondary school, I went back into care at the rehabilitation center for the blind. Besides orientation and mobility, housekeeping and other blindness-related training, I had to get physical therapy again for my scoliosis.

In 2007, I was finally diagnosed with autism and landed in the psychiatric hospital (not at the same time, mind you). My current psychiatrist remarks that I got little in the way of treatment there and she’s right. At first, it was thought I just needed to be moved into a group home and all would be fine, then when I got my last psychologist, it was decided I just needed a good kick in the behind and to move into independent livng as soon as possible.

Now that I’m 31, I don’t really use many adaptive devices other than my Braille display and my white cane, the latter of which I use more for stability than for its intended purpose. My iPhone has a built-in screen reader and I guess it won’t be long until NVDA is almost as good as JAWS for a computer screen reader. NVDA is free and open source, whereas JAWS costs several hundreds of dollars (that thankfully currently health insurance pays for).

I said eye doctors goodbye for good (except when I need a note to say I’m blind) in 2013 when my last chance to get a little sight back failed. I still see a psychiatrist, though my medcation regimen hasn’t changed in years. I have a community psychiatric nurse, whom I see biweekly for dialectical behavior therapy. As for my mobility, I’m due to see my GP on Wednesday to ask about this and about any treatments or adaptations that could help me improve.

Naptime Natter

Happy List – May 30 to June 5, 2016

I’ve been feeling extremely unmotivated to blog lately. It’s not that I don’t want to, or that there aren’t enough prompts or other ideas to get me started. I just can’t get my fingers moving and actually type that post. I don’t know whether it’s for that reason or in spite of it, but I’ve wanted to restart my Dutch website, blog or both. Of course, I’m uninpsired on that side of the language fence too. Just to get myself back into the swing of things, I’ll just write a list of things I’m happy about this week.



  • I’ve been doing okay in the exercise department. The physical therapist came to my unit on Monday to do exercise with me and I worked out some with the resistance band. On Tuesday, I went to the institution gym and did well there. I’ve also been lifting weights and working out more with the resistance band in my room. Yesterday, I went on the elliptical at home.

  • On a somewhat related note, the physical therapist measured the strength in my hands, believing my left hand would be weaker. Turned out they’re both equally strong (or weak). I didn’t ask whether my strength is much worse than normal people’s. It probably is, but for now, let’s forget that and focus on the fact that my left hand isn’t weaker than the right one.


  • On Wednesday, two student nurses from the locked ward went to the market and there was still room in their car. Since one guy ended up not wanting to go and another woman had just lost her privileges, I was the only one going. We bought fruit for my unit and the locked unit and I got some fish.

  • On Friday, my husband and I went out to buy fries and snacks. Yesterday, my husband made us tortillas. Both times, the food was great.

  • Yesterday, my husband and I went clothes shopping for me. We didn’t find what we’d hoped for, but we did find some great dresses.

  • The weather is good. We were supposed t get thunderstorms all week, but in the institution town we only got one on Tuesday. My husband did get worse thuderstorms. Over the week-end, however, we had beautiful weather at home.

  • Our cat Barry celebrated his third birthday today. My in-laws came and brought an apple pie. Barry himself got some of his favorite food.


What are you happy about this week?

Mondays #BEDN

Phew, it’s November. Did I just say that? Wow! I normally hate november, but today I am just so glad that the #Write31Days challenge is over. The challenge of having to write on one topic for an entire month is huge. That being said, I loved the commitment of writing everyday. Just today, a day late, I discovered Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN). Like Blog Every Day in May (#BEDIM), this is a prompt-based challenge, but you can write on a different topic too. Today’s topic is “love Mondays”. I was unable to read the full prompt because somehow Google calendar wouldn’t let me, so I am just going to write what comes to mind.

Most people love the week-end and feel a little down on Monday, especially Monday morning. Indeed, I sometimes have a hard time transitioning from a Sunday lie-in to a Monday, at which I need to get up at whooping 8:30 AM. I know, my husband might need to get up at 5:00 AM and many more working people get up at seven, but well, for me 8:30 is early. Today, I lay in bed till I truly had to get up at 9:30 because I literally had to start physical therapy that minute. Physical therapy fr me means exercise, because my goal for it is to get into a better physical condition. Consequently, today I was up and lifting weights literally minutes after I’d been lying in bed. This is supposed to exemplify my laziness, not my stamina, FYI.

In general though, I’m not one of those people who looks forward to the week-end. Not having a day job means I don’t need to unwind from a 40-or-so-hour work week over the week-end. I find that, during the week, at least there’s some reason to get out of bed, such as day activities. In this sense, I actually like starting my week with some exercise.

Monday also means the ward is normally-staffed again, so I can usually go for walks in the afternoon. On week-ends, if I’m lucky, I can squeeze in a walk right before handover. Now yesterday and on Saturday I was able to get some nice walks with the staff, but that is very unusual.

Mondays also mean a fresh start to a new week. Of course you can make a fresh start at any moment, but a Monday (like the beginning of the month or year) feels particularly good for it. It is a good time to set weekly goals. Therefore, to finish off this post, I am going to share some goals for this week.


  • Go to the gym tomorrow. Exercise on the elliptical trainer or stationary bike at least two more times this week.

  • Write down my concerns re moving to the tiny village and discharge from the institution for my psychologist. Be well-prepared for my appointment on Wednesday.

  • Finish off my polymer clay necklace at art therapy on Thursday.

  • Decide for myself whether I want to continue my Open University course.

  • Continue to write a blog post each day.


I will also be baking apple pie tomorrow at day activities to “celebrate” the eight-year anniversary of my institutionalization. Maybe I’ll share about that tomorrow.

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First Steps Towards Independence: Blindness Rehabilitation in 2005

This week on the spin cycle, we’re discussing firsts. Last Friday, I visited a woman I first met at the blindness rehabilitation center in 2005. Another guy we both met there too also came over. This was my first time meeting them since I graduated from the rehabilitation center.

The rehabilitation center experience was quite interesting. I had just graduated from high school two months earlier and didn’t want to go straight to university. So in order to have some practice on my first steps towards independence, I became a resident there four to five days a week for four months.

The program was quite intensive. I had orientation and mobility training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, music, textile arts and handycrafts, as well as three different types of communication training and counseling with a psychologist. I also had vision therapy.

During orientation and mobility training, I learned to plan to go someplace and to travel there effectively using my white cane. I learned to be quite a good cane traveler even though I’d always had trouble using the cane correclty, and still do. After about six weeks at the center, I started using public transportation to go there on Monday and to travel back home on Thursday or Friday. I also learned to travel to and from the local supermarket and to use customer service to get my groceries.

Occupational therapy had several components to it. First, there was the teaching of housekeeping and cooking skills. I didn’t yet master these when I graduated from the center, so went on to live at an independence training home afterwards. Another part of occupational therapy was group-based training in compensating for our visual impairment with our other senses. This, for me, was quite easy in the practical sense, but my social skils difficulties emerged there. There was one great workshop on applying make-up without sight. I loved it.

I also had physical therapy because I have poor posture and had developed mild scoliosis as a result. Physical therapy wasn’t all that effective, because I didn’t practise the exercises out of session.

Vision therapy was very interesting. At first, I had a vision therapist who didn’t acknowledge my admittedly tiny fraction of residual vision. When at one of the communication sills training sessions though, another vision therapist joined the trainer and I arranged for sessions with her. My vision was still virtually non-existent, but I learned a lot about what I could and couldn’t do with it. I also had an opportunity to select NoIR sunglasses that would help me cope better with my light sensitivity. This vision therapist was very patient and thorough in answering my questions. Though in the end my emotional adjustment problems surfaced, which of course she wasn’t trained in dealing with, I did feel very much validated.

Music, textile arts and handycrafts were quite useful too. Though I didn’t practise what I learned there for another few years to come, the instructors there taught me that I could indeed do arts and crafts with no vision. Music wasn’t my cup of tea, so I stopped playing the keyboards after graduating from the center.

The communication skills training sessions were great. I took basic communication skills, assertiveness and communication about your visual impairment. I had one trainer for both basic communication skills and assertiveness and another for the communication about your visual impairment training. The first one was great at letting me see that, if I moved past my anxiety, I could be quite sociable. The second trainer was the one who cooperated with the vision therapist.

Counseling was the least useful bit about the rehabilitation program. The psychologist was blind herself and for one thing didn’t grasp my emotional adjustment issues. She focused on the fact that I had to put non-disabled values into perspective and for example learn to ask for help. Though I did accept this eventually, I still couldn’t cope with the many losses of vision loss. I don’t think a four-month-long rehabilitation program is enough for that anyway, as I still don’t fully accept this ten years on. However, the other problem was we just didn’t click in terms of communication styles. I didn’t open up easily and there just wasn’t enough time in the program for me to work on even just those issues that are due to blindness. I understand that, but the psychologist could’ve refrained from rushing me through a dozen issues.

I was a residential client there even though the rehabilitation center was in my home city. In the evenings, the clients spent lots of time amongst ourselves discussing our rehabilitation process. This was very healing to me. It also was a great opportunity to practise social skills.

Even though my rehabilitation was supposed to be my first step towards independence, I was in many ways at my highest point in terms of independence while there. I don’t like to admit this, since I did learn other sklls in the ten years since. Also, the fact that I didn’t become more self-reliant makes it look like I just need a kick in the pants. In fact, however, the program had lots of one-on-one instruction incorporated, which I can’t get now that I’m a mental patient. I still grieve this loss of independence, but this possibly has to do with my adjustment to my psychiatric illness.

Fitness: Goal Setting and Getting Started #MDFitClub

Over at Mums’ Days, Hannah has launched the #MDFitClub. She writes all about motherhood and how it affects your health and fitness, but I believe I can join in too. After all, I have some health goals to work on too.

Back in January, I resolved to lose five to ten kilograms in 2015. That doesn’t seem to be a clear enough goal, because I keep thinking I could lose it all “later”. Though I’ve lost about two kilograms, that’s not nearly enough given how far along we are in 2015. My BMI is still over 30. Since the #MDFitClub runs for two months, I am resolving to get my BMI under 30 within these two months. That means losing about three kilograms.

Early this month, my fitness goal was to practise yoga at least three times a week. I have changed that to working out on the elliptical trainer or stationary bike, because these are more effective. I also started physical therapy last week, which is mainly for improving my physical condition. I did some working out there too, but I still agreed with the therapist to work out three times a week.

In the eating department, I’m doing relatively okay already. I have not completely eliminated binge eating, but have gotten it down to at most once a week. I do snack a lot though. I believe I shouldn’t be stressing out over the binges, since stress will make them worse. Then again, I do believe I need to stop snacking regularly. Otherwise, I won’t be losing any weight.

My purpose – my reason for wanting to achieve these goals – is my overall health. Though there is debate as to whether a BMI between 25 and 30 is unhealthy, everyone agrees that a BMI over 30 is. Besides, if I allow myself to have this BMI, there’s no clear-cut limit to weight gain. I really ultimately need to get my BMI under 25 (which means losing another twelve kilograms), but I know that’s not realistic within two months.

As a means of accountability, I will be writing regularly on how I’m doing with my goals. I am glad there’s a community of people participating in this challenge too. But I shouldn’t just talk, I should do the thing too. Now I’m therefore going to get onto that elliptical trainer. 🙂