At the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention in Sacramento last summer Katie Frank, OTR/L, MHS and I spoke on understanding the role of speech, occupational, and physical therapy in the child’s life. In anticipation of this session I wrote an article entitled, Your Child’s Therapy: Weighing the Options, for the Down Syndrome News. It outlines questions families should ask when considering private treatment services:
- How long should my child be in therapy?
- Are there different models of therapy other than weekly appointments with a therapist?
- What is co-treatment and what benefit does it provide?
- How do I know I’m picking the right model of therapy for my child?
As a professional and mother I encourage you to look at your family as a whole when considering private therapy:
- What time commitments do you already have? Do both parents/caregivers work? Do you have children with extracurricular activities?
- Will one more appointment be helpful…or will it cause undo stress on marriage, finances, etc.?
- What does the therapist have to offer? If your child has swallowing concerns a feeding specialist is particularly important – if you are working on general language skills, can you work twice a month or consultatively with the therapist?
- What will I gain from the therapy? It is essential that parents are learning from the treatment process as much, if not more, than the child. This is important because you are the one who daily interacts with your child and need to be well equiped to carry over the techniques taught during the treatment sessions.
Parents often feel an urgent need to do everything they can do to help their children. I think this is heightened when a child with any type of special need is welcomed into the family. We can look back and wish we had done things differently… We can look ahead and worry about what the future will hold for our children… Or we can take the information we have in front of us and make a decision that fits for the child – and family – right now.
Circumstances will change, our children will change, our decisions will change. This is okay! When I get overwhelmed with my life to-do list, my mother frequently reminds me, “Just do the next thing.” Look at the next step in improving your child’s communication, weigh your options, and go from there.
Meyers Bekins, J. (2009). Your Child’s Therapy: Weighing the Options, Down Syndrome News, (32)4, 60-61.