Peter’s speech therapy really seems to be accelerating. He is getting closer and closer to getting off of his trach and can tolerate the speech valve up to six hours at a time (a speech valve is a cap that goes on his trach to force him to breath through his nose/throat, also allowing air flow over the vocal chords).
The most exciting thing with Peter’s speech therapy is that he has made a few attempts to form words with his speech valve on after some coaching from Beth. He has said “mom” a few times, and yesterday when he was refusing some food he said “no” three times.
Peter is still taking up to about 5 bites of food at a time, and will sometimes turn his face away because of oral aversion when he doesn’t want it (oral aversion is common with brain injury patients).
Pete is also moving his arms and hands more. His large motor skills seem to be returning sooner than his fine motor skills. A few times a week we get an 8 man team together to help Peter crawl during his physical therapy sessions. A couple of times we have noticed he was trying to help with some of the work rather than relying on total assistance from us.
Another new motor skill Peter has achieved is stretching his arms when he wakes up in the morning. Other than these things, he will occasionally move his arm or hand on command. When we ask him to give us a thumbs up, it’s still kind of sketchy, but overall growing towards more consistency.
Peter has been able to recognize us for months now and look at the correct people on command. He has also improved with his ability to do this with objects, but tires fairly quickly and will only do it during short periods of time. One of the therapists that has worked with Peter is convinced he can read because he responded with his eyes to words written on flash cards, so we have started implementing that into his therapy routine.
Pete has also been showing that he can exert his will by turning his head away from us and showing negative facial expressions. We recently had a therapist who worked with him over a week long period. She thinks that Peter’s higher cognitive functions are most likely still intact including long and short term memory, and the ability to read and make associations. She also used flash cards that displayed an emotion on them and Peter almost always looked at the sad flashcard. She said Peter is probably depressed, discouraged, and bored. This confirms what we were thinking already, that Peter understands way more than he can show us. We have been trying to encourage him and mix up the different therapy exercises we do to keep it interesting for him.
Overall Pete is making small progress in many areas, and it has been really encouraging to us all! Thank you for your continued prayers on his and our behalf.
Here are the things you can pray for:
1) This Monday someone is coming to evaluate Peter, and if he passes their tests he will receive some state funding for rehab at a hospital. If Peter doesn’t pass, we will lose our chance at any funding for possibly a year or more. We know that God will provide in other ways if this falls through, but it sure would be encouraging to know that Peter was at a stage where he could officially receive rehab.
2) Pray for our wisdom and strength as we still coordinate schedules and figure out how to best care for Peter with Andrew gone.
3) Pray we can successfully wean Peter off of his trach as soon as possible. He is making great progress, but the sooner it is out the better!
4) Pray we can establish some form of “yes” and “no” communication. We have started using flash cards now that we think he can read. Nothing established yet, but we are trying.
5) Pray that Peter would have more and more awareness and gain back the ability to respond to us with more than just his eyes and control his motor movement.
6) Pray for Peter’s continued physical healing.
7) Pray for Peter’s spiritual nourishment and encouragement during this time.
8) Pray that we would be creative in thinking of new ways to do therapy with Peter. This will help him keep interested and also expand the range of things he can try to do.
For the family,