Therapy Tip Series

Several people have asked me to write a post to share therapy tips.  When I sat down to write out some helpful hints, my mind went crazy!  There is so much I’d like to say! Where does one even start?! 

The first thing I want to say is this:  I am not your therapist.  Well, I might be, or have been, or will be, but I’m probably not.  Therefore, I can’t treat your child through this blog.  I highly recommend that you find a local speech language pathologist to work with your child.  He or she will complete an evaluation and come up with a treatment plan that best suits your child’s (and family’s) needs.  Every child is different, regardless of diagnosis.  I know we are all probably autism parents here, but no two kids on the spectrum are alike.  That means that each child needs a treatment plan that is tailored to their needs.  So, again, find an SLP in your area. 

I’d like to start a series where I talk about therapy ideas, give book recommendations, and all that fun stuff.  You’ll have to stay tuned to the blog for more on that endeavor!
For now, I do have some things I’d like to share, mom to mom. 

You are mom first.
This is something I struggled with initially.  I have always known that Colin was different, so I have always worked with him.  I thought, being a therapist, I had the knowledge and tools to help him.  So that’s what I did.  Well, I tried, anyway.  The therapist in me wanted to seize the day and take on every moment as a language building opportunity.  I was able to do that for a time, but it was exhausting and wore me down. 
Having a child with special needs is hard.  You see them struggle, and all you want to do is help.  You see that struggle and that creates a sense of urgency in yourself.  You want help, like, yesterday. 

Your life has become an endless schedule of therapies:  speech, OT, PT, music, ABA, Floortime, social group.  You take it upon yourself, life the amazing momma that you are, to carryover those therapies into your daily routines. You feel like you have become your child’s therapist!  But where does “Therapist” end and “Mom” begin? 

2010 Therapist Deidra would have given you completely different advice.  Here’s the thing though:  2010 Therapist Deidra did not yet have a son on the spectrum.

The new (and hopefully) improved 2018 Autism Mom Deidra will tell you this:  life is happening.  Survival is the most important.  Oh, so you didn’t sleep much last night because your child decided to wake up for the day at 3AM?  Just make it through the day, bro. 

First and foremost, you are Mom.  Love on your babies.  If you have other children, don’t forget about them.  “Therapy stuff” can rule your life if you let it, but your other children will notice if that happens.  You are their mom too.  “Mom” is, and always will be, your most important title. 

Be in the Moment.
Being in the moment is hard for us autism moms.  We don’t get to just chill and enjoy the moment.  We are always calculating, thinking two steps ahead of our kids. 

What’s he going to do next?  
Run?
Scream?
Throw that toy at his brother’s head?
Steal food off the stranger’s plate at the restaurant?
Oh, no!  He is eyeing that nasty gross something on the ground, is it going in his mouth?!

You know exactly what I’m talking, right?!  We are always in “preparation to strike” mode.  Also worrying about what is going to happen next and trying to figure out when the next meltdown is coming.  I encourage you to just enjoy the good moments when you get them.  Be in this moment and enjoy your child. 

I find that we are most successful when we just play.  Remember, play is a child’s work.  Play with them.  Enjoy them.  Have your moment.   I think you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish with some good ol’ family time. 

Work at your child’s level.
We all mean well and want to help our children….but where do we even start?  This is where you need to find a professional in your area to help you choose the right goals.  You need to know where your child is functioning before you know what to work on.
So many parents want to start working on colors, shapes, and letters.  Why is that?  Well, it’s probably because almost all children’s toys focus on these concepts!   If your child is nonverbal or has very few words, these are just not appropriate. 

Ask yourself this question:  Does pointing to/naming “triangle” really help my child communicate with me every day?
 Probaby not.  So that would not be a functional thing to work on right now.  With our kids on the spectrum, we often have to back waaay up and get those foundational communication skills.  That is what I mean by “work at their level.”  If we try to jump too far ahead, both you and your kid will end up banging your heads against the wall in frustration. 

I know these things might be common sense, but I think we all need reminded from time to time.  I plan to do give some book recommendations soon, so stay tuned!  Best of luck to you as you continue on your autism journey!  We are all in this together, Mommas!

I am a pediatric speech language pathologist.  Please find a therapist near you for tailored-to-your-child communication assistance!


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