Mom knows best

by Kelly, Contributing Writer

Let me start by giving a huge shout out to Nathan’s speech therapist and his current occupational therapists, who are nothing short of amazing women. They are kind, understanding, and I truly feel they have Nathan’s best interest at heart.

As he embarks on Kindergarten in the Fall, I’m looking ahead to the future and what it will bring for Nathan. I’m left wondering – how will we possibly squeeze in seven therapy appointments a week into his new school schedule? How exhausted will he be?

With these questions in mind, I knew I had to start making adjustments in his current schedule so he was ready to go in the Fall.

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I placed Nathan on a wait list at two different clinics that are closer to his school. The one we go to now is 45 minutes away. In addition to the drive, we need a Friday afternoon spot and their office closes before we could even get there.

Finding time for all of Nathan’s therapy, along with school and extra-curricular activities, feels like a real life version of Tetris!

Nathan has been in occupational therapy since he was eight months old. It’s definitely been a long journey of trial and error. Up until this year, he hadn’t made any progress in regards to his fine motor skills, and I firmly believe it’s due to the approach that had previously been taken – a sensory approach.

I understand the importance of sensory integration in a child’s development. I have quite a few friends with kiddos on the spectrum and I know that sensory activities in OT are crucial. Nathan has just never fit the bill for a child with sensory issues.

He has never had a public meltdown because it was too loud, never had a tactile aversion to anything, never chewed on non-food items, or anything else that would hinder his daily life activities.

So why was my child being swung, playing in a ball pit and wearing a sensory vest? I couldn’t understand. But if they thought hanging him upside down would help, I’d let them do it.

So he did this every week.

There isn’t one thing I could say changed about Nathan during this time. After months of treatment, he made zero progress in his fine motor skills, which is what he needed most.

So I began to ask myself – will my child ever learn to write his name? Dress himself? Feed himself?

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But today I have HOPE!

The therapist that has been seeing Nathan since last summer has given me that hope.

She listened to me and my concerns, and did what she truly thought could help Nathan. Instead of working from a sensory perspective, he works on specific motor tasks. He sits, nicely, might i add, for 45 minutes working on various activities. He works on cutting, buttons, puzzles, hand writing etc etc.

While Nathan is still behind, he has made tremendous progress in this last year. He went from drawing a simple line, to now tracing his letters! He is also able to put on his shirt and even self feed!

Watching him accomplish these tasks and goals, feels like I’m watching a real life miracle happen. His determination along with his therapist’s help – this boy is moving mountains.

With all of this in mind, I knew for certain we had to continue the same approach when looking for a new OT.

After a few months on the wait list, we finally got an appointment at a therapy office we had previously gone to that is not far from his school. The only reason we didn’t still see an OT there was because ours had left and they hadn’t replaced her.

We went in for our very first appointment and I could tell Nathan was pretty stoked to be back at this office. Even after almost a year, he still remembered where they kept their stickers :).

We met our new OT whom seemed a little less friendly, but I always like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I figured it was Friday and she was ready for the weekend.

So I kindly explained to her that I would like to keep Nathan’s goals and working environment the same. I explained how the sensory approach used in the past hadn’t helped him, but that focusing on the specific motor skill did.

This apparently didn’t sit well with her. A few days later I got a call from the supervisor of the clinic telling me it wasn’t a good fit. The therapist felt I was too particular about how Nathan should be treated.

I was completely in shock. Nathan has had over ten therapists throughout his journey, and never once had I encountered something like this. Up until this point, every therapist we had met always wanted to help my sweet boy reach his full potential.

This therapist was brand new to the clinic and apparently couldn’t handle a situation that didn’t fit her agenda. Instead of expanding her knowledge and experience, she chose to punish my son over a few SIMPLE requests. Just so sad.

I had to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, it’s better that Nathan not work with an inexperienced and closed-minded therapist. I voiced what was best for him and what has worked the most to help him achieve his goals. I make no apologies for that.

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He still doesn’t have a spot for his Fall schedule, but I’m working on it. I won’t stop working on it either.

I won’t stop fighting for him.

I won’t stop being his voice.

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