That might be a little bit of an overly dramatic title! This is not a debate over whether or not to participate in therapy. There are lots of opinions and different strategies work with different children. There is definitely not a cookie cutter solution for everyone.
Yesterday driving home from Hailey's PT/Speech session, I was battling conflicting emotions. Our PT cancelled our next couple of visits. With Hailey walking now, she wants Hailey to spend her time practicing walking, building endurance, and strengthening her legs by walking up the stairs. This can all be accomplished at home. Since our insurance only pays for x number of therapy visits a year, she doesn't want to "waste" them now. She would rather take a few breaks and let Hailey's stamina and endurance increase. Later we can focus on other gross motor items...kicking, standing on one leg, running, hopping. It made me sad. I love Hailey's PT. She is fabulous.
I started thinking about our therapists. I truly believe it is not an easy task to find a team that you as a parent like and a team that works well with your child. It takes the right combination of personalities. It is imperative that you trust and respect your therapists. You need to be on the same page as far as how much you are going to push your child, how often do you want to meet, etc. Not every therapist is a good fit for your child or your family. If you are only comfortable with therapy once every other week, you would not be a good fit with a therapist team that wants to meet twice a week. Some therapists may be too soft or too stern for your taste. Other therapist may recommend new, cutting edge therapy tools that may be too pricey for your budget. Some only focus on exercises and skills that use items that are only accessible to you at the therapy center. Other therapists are good at showing you things that you can do at home or use inexpensive items that are readily available.
We regularly see our EI therapist, a physical therapist and speech therapist. We occasionally see an occupational therapist (this may increase next month after Hailey's evaluation at the Down syndrome clinic). Yes, most of Hailey's therapists are privately paid for by our insurance and us. We are paying them for a service, but we need to have a close working relationship in order for Hailey to be successful. Eventhough they are paid, they become part of your child's village. Hailey's team truly cares for her and her success. Our EI therapist is in our home almost once a week. She has seen me at my worst. Struggling with Hailey's Ds diagnosis....her heart defect diagnosis...awaiting open heart surgery...missed milestones, etc. She has celebrated with us...not only Hailey's accomplishments but also my sons. The boys are here for a lot of her therapy appointments so our therapist has gotten to know them also.
So yesterday when Hailey's PT said that Hailey was doing fabulous and she wanted to skip a couple appointments, I was actually sad. I love her therapists. I love seeing them. Sometimes, I need them as much as Hailey. I need a professional person who deals with Down syndrome, telling me that I am doing a good job. That my daughter is making gains. That we are on the right track. That reassurance is nice to hear. On a bad day, it is the one thing that keeps me going. I know that we will still see them later (and are fabulous about corresponding through email) but I know soon we will begin transitioning for preschool. I will probably cry when we start preschool and no longer see our EI therapist. Hailey will move onto preschool and receive her services at school.
We are fortunate. We clicked instantly with our first set of therapists. We didn't have to shop around for a good fit. I know some families are not as lucky. If you don't feel comfortable with your therapists, keep searching. If you don't feel you can speak your opinion or you don't feel they are on the same page as you, keep searching. The right team is out there!!! I'm not sure how we got so lucky, but I'm so happy we did! Thank you Jen, Abby & L!
These are old pics from my October post about therapy. They are Hailey's PT/Speech team. They are also the therapists that help with her evaluation at the Down syndrome clinic.
Here are a couple of Hailey's therapists that are not paid, but they frequently get overlooked when I talk about therapies.