How 3-year-old Mimi Taught Me to Appreciate the Little Things

How 3-year-old Mimi Taught Me to Appreciate the Little Things

For Mimi (center), living “life without limits” means going for a ride on a ferris wheel with her friends.

Before I joined the Sunrise Medical team, I worked fulltime at a pediatric transitional care and rehabilitation hospital. Over the 12 years I worked there I not only honed my skills as a clinician, but I also met fantastic people. Recently, I met up with a former client named Mimi who taught me a great deal about internal drive and appreciating the little things in life.

During our time together her mother, Ashley, and I walked down memory lane reflecting on how far Mimi (now a spirited 8-year-old) had come and laughing about some of the hysterical experiences we had working together. Mimi and Ashley had such a tremendous impact on me that I decided to share a few experiences with you:

Conflicting Personalities

Five years ago, a sweet little bright-eyed 3-year-old came in for a power mobility evaluation. Even though Mimi presented with mixed muscle tone and significant motor impairments secondary to Cerebral Palsy, my teammate and I were confident she could learn to drive a power wheelchair. We cheered and high-fived when she quickly figured out how to make the power wheelchair simulator move by bringing her hand over the proximity the switch. Based on her performance during the evaluation, we all agreed that enrolling Mimi in our power mobility training program was the best next step.

A few weeks later Mimi came back to clinic for her first official power mobility training session. Everything was going well until about mid-way through the session when the speech-language pathologist (SLP) on our team walked past us holding an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. Seeing the SLP triggered me to ask Ashley why Mimi didn't have a communication system. Apparently, Mimi had been evaluated, but was told that she did not have the ability to use an AAC device. My SLP co-worker told Ashley that if she ever wanted Mimi to be evaluated again to let her know and she'd be happy to help. Ironically, the two power mobility sessions immediately following that encounter with the SLP were utter failures. We were at a loss until I saw the reaction Mimi had when the SLP breezed past us in the hallway during another session. At that moment it hit me: Mimi's priority was to be able to communicate, not to drive! Our team pulled together and decided to take a break from power mobility training, so Mimi could focus solely on finding her voice.

Color Matters

During Mimi's break from power mobility training we decided to pursue getting her a wheelchair, because she was growing out of her adaptive stroller and about to start Pre-K. By that time Mimi was 4-years-old and Ashley was afraid people would baby her at school if she was in a stroller.

It was determined that a Zippie TS wheelchair with custom seating would be the best option for Mimi. Once all of the technical details of wheelchair were chosen, it was time for the toughest decision of them all: selecting a frame color. In order to provide Mimi with the ability to make her preference known, we cut the paint colors out of the brochure and presented them to her in a field of two at a time. Mimi looked at which one she preferred between the options presented. When the decision was narrowed down to two, much to Ashley's dismay, Mimi selected toxic green. Ashley tried her best to best to sway Mimi toward a more neutral color, but Mimi was set. She still loves her toxic green wheelchair.

Multiple Factors

Mimi eventually came back for power mobility training sessions and quickly learned how to drive. When it came time to choose a system, Ashley decided to go with a power add-on system as opposed to a full power wheelchair. The system could be added to her existing Zippie TS and disassembled for transportation or other needs, which was Ashley's primary reason for choosing this option. Unfortunately, after months of battling her funding source the power add-on system was completely denied. However, Ashley was able to secure funding from an alternative source. The system was delivered to Mimi over 2 years ago, but in the couple of times I have seen Mimi since she has not been driving. When asked what happened, Ashley told me that all it took was being caught in a downpour trying disassemble the system in a mall parking lot one time for her to realize that there are many more factors to keep in mind than simply the being able to fold a wheelchair. The good news is that the power add-on system stays at school and Mimi is able to drive down the halls. In addition, Ashley is looking into getting a minivan and hopes to get Mimi a full power wheelchair in the near future.

Ashley and Mimi are an amazing mother-daughter team! I know that they will both do great things. In the meantime, it is always an absolute pleasure to catch-up with them.

Thank you for reading our blog! We love hearing from you, so please do not hesitate to reach out to us via email or on Facebook.

Always remember at the end of the day, your client is your number one priority!
- Angie

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are intended to be utilized as a general resource for clinicians and suppliers to then use clinical reasoning skills to determine optimal seating and mobility solutions for individual clients. Steve and Angie are unable to answer questions from members of the general public including caregivers and end users. Members of the general public should direct specific questions to their own clinicians, medical, suppliers, or other health care professionals.


Posted by: Date: 8/8/2014 12:00:00 AM
Filed under: Angie, Caregiver, Clinician, Mobility, PediatricMobility, PowerWheelchairs, Therapy, Zippie
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