'Coming-of-Age' Milestones

In a previous post I had mentioned one of these milestones. It then occurred to me that there are several other such milestones that - at least for me - I consider milestones. Whether they were recognized as such (probably recorded in some medical notes, or jotted down in a physical therapy evaluation) is another story. The important thing is that I recognize that these are personal moments I can feel accomplished about.

1. Getting in and out of my wheelchair.
Vaguely I remember in pre-school that I would need to be lifted from my wheelchair to the floor, or to my extremely tiny wooden chair, or on to the blue mat. There is something exciting about a child figuring out how to independently transfer in and out of their mobility device. It's a decision that their peers who walk or run don't necessarily make a conscious decision about, it's a brain signal for the rest of them. But at some point in my childhood I was able to say I want to get from Point A to Z, and I want to get in my wheelchair at this point, out of my wheelchair at the next point, into my walker for that point, or reach the point after that in my crutches. Figuring out how to move is critical and even though I still look back on those hours of physical therapy with annoyance, I get it now ... I totally get it.

2. Going to the bathroom.
No I don't mean recognizing when your bladder says it's time to party. I mean going to the bathroom with a cast on, by myself. It's something to do with age, privacy, dignity, respect, and simple human necessity that comes with being able to relieve yourself alone. Whether it's a slide transfer, or figuring out at what point you pull the pants down, or how to lean towards your other side because the dominant hand is in a sling - these are all things that yes, someone else can help me with, but how about no. How about someone else helps me do it once and then I figure out how to balance the long leg cast in a way that doesn't weigh my entire body down. Or how about someone stand there and help me figure out how to angle the wheelchair next to the toilet, until I've figured out a safe transfer strategy? It's just one of those things, and maybe you just have to be there to understand and see why the white elephant in that stall always says: I wish I were alone. It's a simple way to say dammit I can still do the simple things everyone else must do too!

3. Asking for help.
As super overly protective as my parents and the rest of my family were, there were moments when I was left alone as a kid. Whether it was in school or during a play date, at the YMCA during swimming lessons, or at summer camp - my parents or my school aide were not always within arms reach. I couldn't just turn my head, look up silently and have someone rush in to fix the situation. Knowing that I could get assistance from those who may not have had the "special training," or may not have been pre-screened by my parents' 200 question interview was both powerful and comforting. It must have been discomforting for me those first few times because even today I still hesitate to ask for someone else's help - preferring, of course, to do it all on my own. But being reassured that I can 'fend for myself' for even the smallest reasons during those initial asks certainly gave me more space in the realm of independence. These are the moments that no child or young person should feel fearful or unequipped in.

Are there other moments you can think of?? Let me know!

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2 Responses to 'Coming-of-Age' Milestones

  1. milestones for me... Getting petrol/fuel for my car on my own (previously always took someone with me, offering a lift home as repayment). Wheeling my dog on my own for the 1st time was massively liberating! Going shopping alone (without a 'pusher') was another one that made me feel good. From @EmBuncey x

    1. These are all great points that you made, hadn't considered the car refueling one before! Thanks for reading :-)


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