Bella’s brain is not typical. When she turned 12 months old, we began learning about her brain abnormalities. Bella’s head circumference is smaller than normal because her brain has not developed properly. This may have been caused by her genetic abnormalities that interfered with the growth of the cerebral cortex during the early months of fetal development. Bella also has an abnormal corpus callosum, which interrupts the steady flow of information between the two sides of her brain. This contributes to the lack of coordination between the left and right brain, and makes learning new skills a challenge for her.
Learning fundamental movement skills for Bella does not come easily. Sitting independently, reaching for objects, crawling, and walking are some examples of skills that needed to be taught through countless hours of physical and occupational therapy. Over time, we’ve discovered that in order to create new functional pathways in her brain, she thrived on being constantly stimulated with repetitive practice.
When I watch these video clips, I remember thinking how slow, never ending, and hopeless each day felt. And then one day, I was able to see success. As I look back at some of Bella’s stepping stone moments with fresh eyes, I realize how much I have to be profoundly thankful for.
Bella thrives on the repetitive nature of ABA practices. Her brain responds very well to positive reinforcement. With only 2 weeks of applying her bike program, I am proud to say that Bella is pedalling her way to independence!
Today I am thankful for the joint efforts of many therapists and our family, as Bella is a constant reminder that hard work pays off. As we pedal forward, these are the precious moments of achievement that I will always treasure.