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Listening to your “inner mommy”

January 11, 2008

When we first got IT Boy evaluated through EI  about a year ago, we didn’t realize what kind of an adventure we had embarked on.   As I have mentioned in previous posts, we started with PT, followed 4 months later with OT, and recently have started him working with a speech therapist.  But let’s go back a little and talk about what to do when things are not quite working the way you’ve hoped they would.

When PT started last year, we had some ok days and some downright awful ones.  He was only 4 months old, so what he was doing in the sessions shouldn’t have been exerting him that much, but since he did not have the muscular strength in his core, sometimes he was in utter and complete misery.  I wasn’t able to be around for more than 2-3 sessions per month, so after each session I would call my mom and ask how things went.  Sometimes I would hear that things went well, other times I would find out that he started crying 10 minutes into the 45 minute session and didn’t stop till the session ended.  Maybe the PT wiped his nose (he hates that) or made him do too many baby sit ups…it was bound to be something. 

Not having had a kid going through this, I began to wonder how normal all the crying was.  Let me state right off the bat that in no way did I feel he was being mishandled or abused.  He just was not happy in his sessions.  After 4 months, the PT recommended that he be evaluated by an OT (PT’s concentrate on gross motor skills, OT addresses fine motor issues).  Boy had a wicked head tilt and greatly diminished strength on his left side, and she felt he would benefit from receiving OT.  We had an OT come and do the eval, and she agreed.  We thought she was wonderful with Boy, and luckily she became our OT (she lives up the street from us, so it’s a win win for her as well). 

When he started OT, we noticed that he was working equally hard in OT, but seemed much happier.  It’s a totally different treatment but some things that bothered him in PT were done in OT with no issues.  I wondered whether it was the individual involved with his PT who wasn’t a good match for him.  When we talked, she said very sweetly that my son was just not happy with her, but that’s the way these things worked and it would get better over time.  I asked our babysitter to watch sessions with her, and she felt that maybe the PT wasn’t the right fit for him.  She wasn’t doing a lot of things with him and was spending a lot of time doing find motor things on the floor.  Shortly after that, we found out the PT was pregnant, and that was one reason she was not as mobile as she was pre-pregnancy and was doing reduced activities with him.  She felt these activities were fine and she would be able to continue in this way with him at least for a couple of more months.

I disagreed and contacted the service coordinator assigned to us by EI.  She put us in touch with a new PT who has been God’s gift to IT Boy.  Within two weeks of starting with him, he was commando crawling after not moving at all.  Within a month, he was fully creeping.  I won’t say he’s eliminated his delay, but the progress he has made with her has been steady and pronounced.  Was it because of having a new PT, or was he simply ready to make those steps?  We’ll never know, but I do know that I did not regret the move for a second. 

Now, did I feel horrible about going around the PT, especially when I learned she was pregnant?  Of course I did, I was a pregnant person myself.  Twice.  But I had to put my son’s best interests first.  Namely, when things were not working out, I had to:

* Talk to the service provider directly.  Be your child’s voice, his advocate.  It’s a role only you can take on, so don’t for a minute hesitate.  I’m not giving you permission to be a bitch, more to be informed and stay active.  Understand what the therapist is doing and why.  Have your significant other at a session with you.  Ask a trusted friend to watch sometime.  Tape your sessions, if your provider approves, so you can watch and review them later.   

* If that doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to talk to your service coordinator.  The wonderful woman who performs that job for us took the attitude of “you’re the boss, what you want I try to make happen.”  She didn’t make me feel bad for asking and praised us for taking an interest in Boy’s treatment and not being passive.  We all share the same goal, and that’s helping the little man get better.  Realize that, focus on that, and make sure all sides are working it happen.

*If you’re still not getting a situation resolved, don’t give up.  Try seeking a second opinion, either from another therapist or your pediatrician or neurologist.  Sometimes that can sway others.  Sometimes just being persistent can get your point across too.  I’ve heard of it happening, so never feel like you have to compromise if you don’t think you should. 

Back to the communicating with your provider part – remember, therapy is only as good as it is unless you take an interest in what is going on and keep up with the practices when the therapist is not there.  New PT had me crawling around on the floor and up and down stairs at our first session, because she wants to make sure parents keep up the work outside of therapy.  Frankly, she’s sweet and adorable, and is so kind to my son, but I’m a little scared of her all the same.  That works for us, because I listen to everything she says and repeat it at home all the time. 

So, today’s IT lesson is to listen to that mommy inside of you to help focus on what your child’s needs are and how they can be met.  And don’t forget that inner mommy needs a little chocolate every once in a while.  Valrhona is nice, but Ghiradelli will do. 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2008 8:37 pm

    Great points and great advice. I was not happy with my daughter’s first Occupational Therapist. After 2 months of therapy I was more confused as to what her Sensory issues were than when we started. The therapy didn’t seem to be doing anything. I happened to still be on the waiting list for another place that was more highly reputed and when our name came up I jumped over there and was so glad I did. The right therapist makes all the difference.

  2. January 11, 2008 9:17 pm

    GF, thanks for taking the time to join the conversation. I’m glad you were able to take control and get the results your daughter needed.

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