James is a playful, five year old boy on the autism spectrum who is known for “James-isms” or funny things James says during therapy sessions. He is famously known for telling his PT to “have a weekend!” when telling him goodbye – no matter what day of the week they have therapy visits!
He was referred for physical therapy because he struggled with some higher-level gross motor skills, like jumping, hopping, and standing on one leg, which made it difficult for him to play games with his family and friends as well as safely and independently participate in daily routines that require higher levels of strength, balance, and coordination. James also presented with decreased attention to tasks, which limited his exposure to age-appropriate interactions needed for social and cognitive development.
Being the smart, little boy that he is, James figured out how to avoid tasks he found to be difficult; he would act silly, laugh, and attempt to distract adults to prevent him from having to attempt the task. However, he met his match in his physical therapist, who quickly learned how to best support James in meeting his goals by using consistent, repetitive exercises with predictable outcomes. When James was especially avoidant, his PT would invite him to “take a break” by sitting quietly for one minute together to re-focus and remember that while therapy is fun, they must follow their plan.
Along with dressing up as superheroes, Spider-Man in particular, James enjoys throwing and catching balls, which is in his genes since his dad is a baseball coach! This allowed his dad to take an active role in James’ therapy sessions and collaborate with his PT on how to improve James’ ball skills. Talk about a fun home exercise program!
Although James was slow to progress when therapy started, he is now able to play with his family and friends in an age-appropriate manner, which his parents love seeing. They are so proud of how far James has come and excited about the potential he has for his future.
After less than six months of PT, James has an upcoming re-evaluation, and his PT is already planning his graduation party because it is not anticipated that he will continue to qualify for therapy services! It will be a bittersweet goodbye for his PT, but as James would say, “have a weekend!”