We’ve been lucky enough to invite some really great therapists into our lives to help Evan better regulate his sensory system, engage in meaningful conversations and learn things that most kids don’t have to be taught, like how to spit out toothpaste.
Evan does all his therapy sessions at home, and that is a blessing and a curse.
Beyond the convenience of not having to schlep everyone out of the house four days a week, holding these sessions in our home has allowed us to get to know Evan’s therapists very well. They spend so much time in our house that they’re like family.
But because they’re here so much, they’re privy to the arguments, the less than stellar parenting moments and all the other raw displays of feelings, actions and emotions that people save for the privacy of their home. And because we get to know them so well, stopping therapy is difficult.
It’s often hard to say goodbye – kind of like leaving a hairdresser, manicurist, doctor or babysitter you’ve known for a really long time. I admit I sometimes linger in these relationships longer than necessary.
Earlier in the year, Evan was doing occupational therapy (OT) with two different therapists, plus physical therapy and he was working with a behavioralist. I’m pretty sure the neighbors thought we were a crack house because people were always coming and going.
Eventually we got used to always having people in and out of our house. For the most part, it just meant that the kids had to remember to shut the bathroom door and I tried harder to find my calm, parenting voice instead of the default one consisting of yelling, nagging or threatening.
Beyond the personal connection, it’s hard to know when to end a therapy because progress can be hard to measure- particularly with autism.
When we worked on feeding, it was easy to know when we reached our goals: Evan ate more and was willing to try a wider variety of foods. But when you’re dealing with something more abstract like self-regulation, how do you know if you should keep working or accept the fact that you’ve taken your child as far as you can? There are always things to work on, so I don’t necessarily expect a therapist to tell us it’s time to stop. Most of the time I think it’s up to me, with the therapist’s input and advice, to decide.
Recently we did stop seeing one occupational therapist. Initially, I didn’t have the heart to end the relationship; but eventually I had to because Evan started a social skills group the same day.
Was it the right decision for Evan? Turns out it was, because we haven’t seen any regression in his behaviors or increase in meltdowns.
Adding a social skills group is just what Evan needs right now. He needs to learn to understand non-verbal communication, turn taking, initiating play and a host of other skills that will enable him to better relate to others.
Maybe he’ll even learn how to break up with a therapist so that I don’t have to.