A lot of time during Eli’s therapies I have a hard time drawing the line between butting in and staying out of the way. My view is, let the therapists do their job; they’re the educated ones, they know the processes, they know what works and what doesn’t work. However, there are times that, as a mother, I need to say, “Give the kid a damn break!”
Eli was in very intense ABA therapy for a while, (4 hours a day, 5 days a week) so it was kind of hard for me to completely stay out of the process. He also did better when I wasn’t in the room; he listened to the therapists a lot better and didn’t look to me to bail him out. Even through the hours and hours of screams and tantrums I was still close enough to look in and see that it was ok, and every so often I would say “ok, that’s enough” and let Eli take a break. Now, his ABA hours have lessened and so did the demand. ABA is known for being a more intense type of therapy; but at the same time there is a lot of fun and games with it too. Even though he cries a lot during ABA, he has a lot of fun too.
When we go to occupational therapy I am in the room with Eli and his therapist, and though I stay out of the sessions as much as I can, I am there to observe and learn some techniques that work for my son. OT is mostly play based and works great for Eli, no complaints.
Our problem lately has been with speech therapy. The sessions are only 30 minutes, twice a week, each with a different therapist. Eli goes back with the therapists alone and my husband or I are waiting in the lobby. Although waiting in the lobby doesn’t completely keep us out of the loop because we can hear Eli screaming from down the hall. My husband usually takes Eli one night and I take him the other. On the nights my husband brings him, Eli cries and screams the whole session. He mentioned one week that the therapist was going to try keeping Eli in a highchair (pictured above) during the session to keep him focused. I remember not being happy about this at all, but again, the therapists know what they’re doing. After 2-3 weeks of Eli screaming the whole sessions (and not screaming once during the sessions that I take him too) I decided to take Eli this particular night to see what was going on. I didn’t want to seem pushy so I told her how ABA had lightened the stress load because Eli wasn’t responding to forceful “work” he responds almost 100% better during play-based learning. She agreed to try it and invited me back to the room, which is where I first saw the highchair mentioned before and I just could not believe my baby was strapped in that thing for 30 minutes being badgered to name flashcard words. I wouldn’t want to do it either. So she tried just asking him the questions while sitting on the floor and he didn’t response. I told her sometimes other therapists will ask him questions while he is occupied with a toy/game/activity. She did that, and what do you know…he said three words right in a row for her. The rest of the session went smoothly, and hopefully the rest of the sessions will too.
I still stand by my theory that the therapists know what they’re doing and I should, for the most part, leave them to it. But there are times as a mother that you know your child better than they ever will. Parents can give input too. Don’t be too shy to step in and be an advocate for your child.