Just a Kid Again
By Janelle LoBello
Name: Chase Ford
We've shared Chase Ford's story before and here is an update. Chase, now 7, has gone through more in the past five years than most children.
At the age of two, Chase fell backwards off a couch, hitting his head on the couch's arm, and was spinal cord injured living with quadriplegia as a result. In September 2010 Chase started second grade and is "as normal as can be" says his mom, Renee Ford.
Here's the story
Soon after his injury in June 2005, Chase began therapy at one of the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) centers at Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Louisville, Kentucky. Having been the youngest child to undergo locomotor training, Chase was in therapy five-days-a-week and recently stopped his therapy in January 2010.
"Chase walks with a walker," explains Renee of his current state. "He is no longer in therapy because he met his progression mode. I opted to end Chase's therapy at the end of January for the sole purpose that this is a chapter in his life where he can be as independent as can be. He comes home and plays with his friends down the street."
"Chase regressed a little," explains Renee. "His gait pattern was back to where it's not the prettiest. He is walking on his tippy toes and falls more often so the walker is required in school. Chase has the same teachers he had last year and so they are used to him. They realize that he comes in with a walker and parks it by his chair. He walks around the classroom and uses the chairs or tables for balance. He'll use the walker to go to the bathroom, cafeteria, or in the hallways. He knows his limitations and how far he can go without it."
At seven-years-old, Chase has had to learn to adjust and do things differently than others around him.
"He's seven, but has the mental capacity of being older than that," says Renee. "He had to learn to adjust and that he can't do it the way you do it, or the way mom does it, or the way his brother and sister do it. He has had to learn if ‘I can't do it this way, then how do I do it?'"
Renee credits Chase's growth and recovery on his youth and strength.
"The amazing resiliency of a child is they will figure things out to where sometimes an adult will let it hinder him," explains Renee of Chase's recovery. "A child will push through to get it done. And to keep up with what other children do, they'll push through to do the same thing. They want to be able to do the same things as other children."
Just a kid
"Adults will walk by and stare him down," reveals Renee. "I don't know if adults are wondering what happened or if he was born this way. I don't ever get those questions from children. I get, ‘What does he have or what did he do?' They are more accepting. They treat him as one of them whether he can walk like them or can't."
Starting from the ground up, Renee had to think creatively for activities that Chase could play easily and with other kids.
"It was not fun going to Frazier to do occupational therapy and physical therapy," says Renee. "What do you do at home that's kind of fun and he doesn't know that it's really benefiting him? It's called the Nintendo DS, the Wii, and the XBox." Renee uses the video games to get Chase's hands moving.
At the ripe age of four, Chase was playing with the Nintendo DS. His fine motor skills were off and it helped improve his hand-eye coordination.
"The first thing we got him was the DS and when he became really good at it we went to the Wii," says Renee. "The Wii is hand-held but it's also interactive because you're swinging your arms or driving with the Mario Kart. The DS really helped with hand-eye coordination; but the Wii with the TV and device he had to hold were helping to do multiple things."
"What's going to happen when he wants to drive a car?" adds Renee. You have to have that coordination with the hand on where to turn. You do a lot with hand eye coordination. Even using a fork and getting it in his mouth or using a piece of paper, writing with a pen. That's multitasking. He had to learn to do that."
"My kids don't look at him as having a disability," explains Renee. "He gives and he receives just as his brother and sister would. He's no different. I get on Chase just like I do with the others. I don't discriminate."
"I wouldn't put Chase in a bubble just because of his injury," says Renee. "Yes, the injury happened and it's a bad thing, but putting him in a bubble and keeping him from living life is an injustice to the life God gave him."
Chasing the fight
"The world doesn't owe him anything because he had an accident," says Renee. The world's not going to say, 'Oh, the Ford family had a traumatic injury and now life is going to be fulfilling.' It doesn't work that way for anyone."
And so it is the little things in life that Chase has to work harder for.
"It's hard for Chase to fight," explains Renee, "especially at school. To push a pencil, he has to use his brain. The manual labor he can't do. For a person who does have a disability, you have to fight a little extra harder to get what's justifiably theirs. A disability doesn't count you out, you just have to work a little harder and prove your point that you can do it."
Chase doesn't let the accident that happened to him five-years-ago get him down. "He's thriving and he's productive," says Renee happily. "Chase has better outlook on it [his injury] than I probably did for a long time. It's kind of like a role reversal. He gives me cues, 'Mom, it's okay. It's going to be fine.' If he's not okay with it, then we're going to figure out how to make it okay. If he's okay with it, then I'm okay with it."
More on Chase Ford
- The Chase Is On!
- 5-Year-Old Chase is Walking Again
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