Shira Lerner, LGC*

October 5, 2015 at 12:37 PM 2 comments

One key therapist was missing from the last post: Shira, our occupational, physical, speech, and feeding therapist working without a license. Nothing beats sister therapy–and Shira isn’t your average sister. She braved the halls of the NICU with us from day one. She’s spent a lot of her summer days and free time outside of school schlepping to doctor’s appointments and the hospital. She knows more about tube feeds and kidney disease than most adults. More than once a therapist has told me “maybe Shira can help with that.”

Like last week, when Eliana’s feeding therapist said, “Let’s try gum.”

“OK,” I was thinking, “I guess I can fish it out of Eliana’s mouth when she’s done.” But then she pulled out a square of cheesecloth and tied the gum in it, similar to one of those mesh feeding pacifiers they have for toddlers.

“Shira is going to be so jealous Eliana can have gum,” I said. Shira got braces the week before and was told no more gum–but why not, in the cheesecloth pouch where it won’t get stuck to the braces?

Eliana didn’t want anything to do with the gum, even after the therapist showed her how to chew on it. Can’t say I blame her; it is pretty weird.

But later when Shira got home from school, she was all over the cheesecloth gum idea, so of course Eliana gamefully gave a couple chomps on her piece. I guess the moral is nothing beats the excitement of a preteen with braces learning a way she can chew gum.

Siblings of special needs kids can get lost in the mix, between drawing up meds every morning and night, chasing after the toddler with a feeding pump, talking on the phone to insurers, nurse, schedulers. It’s hard to make time for fun things with the healthy child when the other one requires so much time and effort just to maintain a somewhat normal life at home.

Shira has a knack for knowing when I’m at the end of my rope, and then she swoops in, saves the day, and totes Eliana off to funland. It’d be supremely annoying, like the rich uncle’s all fun and games visits, except that both girls are so darn cute and lovable. Not only is Shira engaging, and a good gum-chewing role model, she knows her sister like no one else does. She knows what Eliana’s capable of. At age 10, Shira can take care of Eliana better than a caregiver who doesn’t know her, her health history and developmental delays.

Parents of special needs kids often talk about how much the child has taught them and how their lives have changed for the better and have more value, and while that’s true, today I am celebrating the normal sister, the one who does all that and rocks fifth grade, climbs trees, plays French horn and piano, goes to Hebrew school, learns to ride a bike, reads a book a day it seems, does urban gymnastics, and like every other 10-year-old finds plenty of time to play Minecraft.

*Licensed Gum Chewer

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bonnie Lerner  |  October 5, 2015 at 12:59 PM

    Love my girls

    Reply
  • 2. Sandra  |  October 30, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    Shira you are amazing! And a wonderful big sister too!

    Reply

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