In light of yesterday's post, I thought it might be a good time to talk about some of the ins and outs of therapy. You would think that, as I think many do, having that person in your home or at a therapy center or clinic work with your kids a couple times a week (or even more than that) would be enough. Not so much.
The best therapy is for us to learn from the therapist, and implement things at home. Therapy woven throughout the day is the very most effective. Think of it like brushing your teeth. Would it be best to have a dentist tell you once a week for an hour how important it is and teach you oral hygiene techniques and tips, then go the rest of the week without brushing, flossing, or rinsing?
Obviously the only way to care for your teeth is to do it every day, several times a day. Yes, we need to see the dentist, but we can't just pat them on the back, thank them, and walk away unconvinced. We have to do our best to figure out ways to work the things our kids need into their and our lives, embracing the changes as much as we can. There are things that we learned from our first speech and behavioral therapists through ECI when Ryan was two that we still use! Every time I turn on the vacuum I still announce loudly, "Ready, set..." and then wait for Ryan's "GO!"
That seemingly little change helped Ryan deal with so many loud noises, including the blender, food processor, and several other things. It gives him a sense of control, or maybe just a warning, of such a scary thing. It's little bricks like this that help us build a solid foundation for Ryan to learn to enjoy the world.
The very most basic thing... consistency... can be the very hardest. That was and is the most overwhelming thing for me. I can't just decide it isn't working and change midstream without talking to Eric and everyone else involved with Ryan's care. It's not that I can't, really... more of a shouldn't. Then again, if there is a change and it works, that must be broadcast too.
And here's one that I'm having to learn. Brace yourself, because this one's a little radical.
Cynicism and distrust need to be healthily curbed.
Yes, do your homework. Read up, by all means. But before you tell a therapist or teacher or IEP committee exactly where they can go if they don't do things the way you think is best, hear everything out. Think. Don't allow your pounding heart to make decisions by itself. There are times to stop the train immediately, dig in your heels, and refuse to be moved, but they are fewer and farther between than some would have you think. And if your child is honest-to-goodness being treated poorly or unfairly, stand up and refuse to be moved. But I would urge you to carefully consider these times. These are people you're dealing with. Fallible, often tired themselves, people. Always remember that you never know what someone else is going through. Extend the same kindness you'd wish to be treated with yourself. Do stand up, DO advocate, DO be their voice... but let it be fitting and kind. A lot can be done by simply holding your ground, and without being nasty.
That includes the most simple of all... showing up.
Simple, right? But the longer I live as a special needs parent, the more I hear the thanks that we come to things like therapy sessions and ARD (IEP for you non-Texans) meetings. You know what that means? That means some people don't even show up. The other funny part is that if you're reading this, you'd likely never dream of standing up your therapist or ARD committee. Accidents happen, yes. Work schedules happen too. But consistently enough that two out of three of the places we receive therapy and education services have praised us for simply SHOWING UP?! This disturbs Eric and I both greatly. I mean, we're thankful for the encouragement, but come on parents. These are the kids who need the most consistency. They need our support so desperately.
I get it. It's overwhelming. This is your whole life you're laying out here, and it seems at times like it's all there for someone else to pick apart. It's so important to do what we can to leave our egos at home... on both sides.
Thanks for listening... and tomorrow, we'll look at the other side. What would parents like therapists, teachers, and the like to know?
Thanks be to God for you and your interest in doing the best thing for your child!