When Evan had his stroke the neurologist told me that he should be a normal little boy by one year post stroke. He would of course need physical therapy but with a little work you would not be able to tell him from any other child his age. I totally bought into that idea because I wanted Evan to as normal as he could be.
Evan is now roughly a year and a half post stroke and is still very visibly affected by it. The untrained eye might not see anything but it is not too hard for anyone that pays the slightest bit of attention to notice that he does not use his left arm. Evan is also much more prone to tripping and falling because of his left sided weakness. He has a peculiar gate that is especially noticeable when he is trying to hurry.
I have been struggling for some time with all of this. It is so hard to know when I should help him or when I should let him attempt to do something on his own. I worry that he will fail but sometimes he will surprise me by doing things in unexpected ways, succeeding where I had thought he would not.
When should I stop hoping that he will snap out of it and start using his hand? How long should I keep trying to encouraging him to keep trying? When should the focus of physical therapy change from regaining use to adaptive behaviors?
The prevailing wisdom is that if something has not improved by one year post stroke then it is very likely that it will not get any better. I can't really disagree with this, Evan's biggest gains came very quickly. His stubborn little hand is still there hanging off of his arm, seemingly unnoticed. Occasionally he will take the forgotten hand and use his good hand to make it touch something that particularly excites him. Today I saw him actually steady his sippy cup with his weak arm, briefly, but he still did it.
Things like that help give me hope that maybe he could gain more use of his hand. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I should stop hoping and start accepting. Once I start accepting it means that I am accepting that I am the mother of a child with a disability. Am I ready for that label for my son? I am just not sure.