Rhonda Learns to Read
If I had been in a war
before with the former therapies this one was of something like an ice
cream Sunday compared to jalapeno peppers. We moved into Motherís rent
house because Rodney took a big cut in salary. The house was really old
with only one bedroom. Rodney put a floor into the connecting garage,
opened up the wall and gave us space for a dining area and another
bedroom. The tiny kitchen served and that was all. I had grown up living
in the apartment at times because this was originally my grandmotherís
property. The space, or lack of space, didnít bother me. Once in a while
now I will dream of having to move back into the place. In my nightmare
Iím trying to decide what to do with furniture, floor coverings, windows
This new therapy was
taught to us and every six months we were to go back to one of
Doman-Delacatoís offices for evaluation. The daily, seven day a week
program taxed me to the limit.
Five thirty in the
morning at the fire station where fire men could help us with
"patterning" was tough. A mother of one of the children was a nurse and
had to be at work very early. That alone was a daily grind. The men of
Ponca Cityís fire department volunteered to help us, and we had to have
The exercises required
five people, at least. Rhonda was to be flat on her stomach while in
rhythm each person moved one of her limbs and head alligator fashion,
one side in opposition to the other to simulate a crawl. Probably some
evolutionist had come up with the method in a belief it was a basic step
man must have programed into his development. It didnít matter where or
what the theory was to me. The fact being it was exercise and this is
what Rhonda needed. The plus of having her out of the useless braces
brought us to a sane way of life.
exercises were performed every hour for eight minutes. So, instead of
the few stretching repetitive push and pull work-outs I had practiced
before this was in no way compared to that.
One person could do maybe
thirty stretching exercises on each limb twice a day with the previous
therapy. This new method was about four stretching motions on each limb
every five seconds. Or approximately 48 strokes every minute, or 384 in
eight minutes and it was done for each limb in unison. This was a far
cry from the exercise therapy Rhonda had before. Each session now was
just for one eight minute length. She had 8 sessions a day, one every
hour. Rhonda seemed actually to enjoy this new activity that relaxed her
After the eight minutes
were up Rhonda was put on a long rug where she had to crawl on her belly
much like the army maneuvers where men crawl under barb wire. For some
reason she never rebelled as she had done with the braces. One of the
new therapy requirement was to totally take the braces off. There was no
love lost in that.
After crawling on the rug
we went into a dark room to try to stimulate her brain activity by using
the muscles in her eyes. A machine with a light bulb was timed to come
on and off for five minutes. This exercise was, of course, painless.
After we finished that we
went to the academic part of the program when Rhonda was taught words
according to categories. There were white houses, green houses, tree
houses, ice houses, hill houses, big houses, little houses, brick
houses, chicken houses, farm houses, and so and so forth. After she
learned these we went to another category such as bicycle, tricycle,
motor cycle, unicycle, bicycle for two, and so on. There were books to
learn to read. The first one read: Nose is nose and toes are toes but
nose is not toes, and so on. This was before Dr. Seuss so it was fun and
Rhonda learned to read right away. I was amazed and unbelieving.
There were tactile
exercises, too, we did at this time. I sewed her a bag and put small
objects in it. She was to reach in and identify the objects without
looking at them. This was to create a picture in her brain teaching her
to see the object with her hands as so many women do daily when they
riffle through their purses to try to find a lipstick or their car keys.
After these were finished it was time to go back to the 8 minutes of
physical therapy, which was called patterning.
We kept this therapy up
for four years, finally exhausting the men at the fire department. Some
were true blue and came to our home on schedule. The churches found
volunteers. I had 40 people a day go through my home of 280 persons a
week. Rhonda made great strides. Her appetite improved and she would
eat. She was enjoying reading, though haltingly. The child no longer
woke at night screaming with leg cramps. This alone was a blessing and
well worth the work involved.
We used up all our
volunteers as we finished up the forth year with my sister exercising a
leg and arm and myself her other leg and arm. Rhonda was strong enough
by now that she could turn her own head in rhythm.
Debt for medical expenses
and other expenses was well over 30,000.00 dollars and we took
bankruptcy. The judge granted our filing with not even a comment or
question. I kept my head up high while I was on the stand in the
courtroom as we faced our creditors. The judge seemed to have a look of
unity with me. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do other than
the therapy itself.