In some ways, the process at Schreiber on Wednesday seemed familiar. Kelly Grant stopped at the makeshift front desk, her son Keegan propped on her hip. She chatted with Lisa Moore while checking in, then headed back with Schreiber therapist Libby Crockart for a physical therapy session. Donna Nelson came with her granddaughter Violet Styer to do speech therapy with Abby Zell.
Even with these pieces of familiar routine, it still felt strange. Kelly and Keegan had masks covering their faces. Miss Lisa was at a screening station under the portico at the front entrance. She scanned everybody coming into the center. Violet at first refused to try on a mask (Sound familiar? We have some tips here.), then smiled happily when she found one with lots of bright colors.
It was the first day of in-person therapy sessions at Schreiber since March 17, and, strange or not, it felt pretty good.
Keegan is 2 years old. He was born with spina bifida, and he has been coming to Schreiber since November 2019. Miss Libby had him stand next to a therapy table and play with some cars. Keegan would have to put the cars at the top of a small downhill track, slide-step across to retrieve them, then slide-step back to put them at the top again. Later, she helped him stand in his walker and kicked a soccer ball with him as he walked.
“When he first came, he wasn’t crawling — just scooting,” Kelly said. “Now, he’s crawling and scooting and using his walker.”
Schreiber therapists have been able to do telehealth sessions via a computer or tablet for some of our families. But doing telehealth with Keegan would have been difficult. Miss Libby was hands-on with positioning Keegan at the table or in his walker. She watched carefully as he moved to see how his legs moved when he tried to stand or walk.
The session ended after 30 minutes so there would be time for Schreiber staff to clean all the equipment used during the session.
In the speech-language pathology offices, Miss Abby worked with Violet, age 7, on an activity to help her practice using words. Violet happily engaged, although her mask kept slipping off her ears, which she thought was really funny.
“Oh, no, what happened?” Abby said. “My mask fell off again,” Violet said, a big smile on her face.
Violet has Down syndrome, and she had been coming to Schreiber for speech, PT and occupational therapy for several years, Donna said. All of her work with Schreiber stopped when COVID-19 hit.
“She’s not comfortable on the computer, so we really haven’t done any therapy since March,” Donna said, watching Violet and Miss Abby work. “She’s excited to come. She’s been coming here since she was 3. She was here for preschool. We credit speech with how far she’s come. She didn’t say anything when she was 3. She’s doing really well now speaking in full sentences.”
Violet and Keegan were among the first kids back in the building for therapy. The work to help them in this strange but familiar world will still happen, it just might be a little more complicated.