Thursday, May 20, 2010
Dealing with therapy guilt
Rebecca's comment on yesterday's post about a "Therapy Mom" bumper sticker still makes me smile. Sometimes, I feel like such an expert in therapy techniques I could be a therapist myself. One mom who used to live near us got so fed up with the lack of quality speech therapists in our area, she went to school and trained to be one. I don't know why, but good speech therapists are always the hardest kind to find.
Several of you talked about feeling guilty for not getting enough therapy and not doing enough. I've been there, felt that. But here's the thing: therapy is great, yet there's so much beneficial stuff you can do for your kids throughout the day. And it doesn't have to involve doing therapeutic exercises or moves or anything therapists "told" you to do. I loved what Cathy said: "I feel like every thing I do for my little guy is therapy. Even playing games every night to work on counting, letters, concepts, etc." And Tiffany: "We sure do a lot of 'incorporating it into every day life so it doesn't seem like therapy' and a lot of 'family life fun' therapy!
It's so true. Playfully bicycling a child's legs as you change his diaper, tossing pennies into the fountain at the mall, just sitting on the porch and singing with a kid—it's all beneficial to their bodies and brains. Worrying about whether a child is getting enough formal therapy only makes you anxiety-ridden, which is not good for you or your child. Which brings me to the excellent question Janet asked: "Where do you draw the line between being a therapy-mom and letting your child just be a kid?"
When kids are this young, they don't think of therapy as "therapy." Besides, a good therapist makes sessions fun and engaging. It shouldn't seem like a chore. When Max first started going to school, I was talking with his speech therapist and she told me that the way she would get him to focus was to say, "Max, we have to work now, and then we can play after." I asked her to quit saying that, because I didn't ever want Max to think of therapy as "work." It's like when you tell kids "Eat your vegetables and you can have dessert," they learn to think of veggies as the devil and dessert as the reward.
Max has a lifetime of therapy ahead of him. One of these years, he may realize it's therapy but for now, it's still fun. And while I get him a fair amount of it—especially speech—I also take heart in knowing that playing with him and goofing around and exposing him to new places and generally loving him up are all helping him come along.
P.S. If you haven't entered the giveaway to win one of Melanie's awesome crowns/capes, go to it! She's an awesome special-needs mama.
Photo of Praying Hands sculpture at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma/mulmatsherm