Monday, February 6, 2012

The Rhythm of Therapy

When Dean was itty-bitty, his needs for therapies were so patent that it felt almost like a life-or-death matter that each session made a huge impact. Well, I'm not much of the laid-back type (in case you hadn't noticed), so that's how it felt *to me.*

In the Early Intervention model in Virginia (maybe other places as well), parent education is huge, and so Bob and I dove into our "homework" for Dean head-first. We incorporated exercises and therapist-recommended activities into our daily routine, as well as set aside some times for "work" with Dean. It helped us feel like we had some say and control over the situation at hand, that we were partners in Dean's progress rather than just helpless bystanders.

Initially, one of Dean's therapists would come to the house and there was almost a sense of, "Can you fix him?" that burned in my chest each session. Not that Dean was broken - at all - but that I just didn't want him to struggle. I didn't want to watch as he worked so hard to keep up his head or drink from a bottle that he fell asleep and couldn't wake up. I can think about what it would take for *me* to work that hard at something and it killed me to know that Dean would work that hard to do the simplest of tasks.

Dean is still very much in need of therapies, but there's a degree of breathing that can occur as to their minute-to-minute efficacy. In the beginning, my main concerns were getting Dean to hold up his head, getting him off the G-tube, and eventually getting him to walk. All three of those objectives (thankfully) have been met. So now, PT involves trying to improve quad strength to work on going up and down stairs *better,* not whether Dean can do it at all. We can incorporate shades of gray into his repertoire of skills.

Speech is clearly the exception to this right now. I'm calling around to various SLPs in the area to try to get someone who can supplement Dean's speech through Children's. Finding someone who has openings, specializes in apraxia, and (preferably) bills insurance is proving to be tricky. But I know the right person is out there.

Why are we definitely focusing on someone who is trained in apraxia even if we don't know if Dean has it? Because it can't hurt to treat him in that manner if that's *not* what is going on. And if it is, then it's good to get a start on that now as opposed to later.

If we get everything all lined up, Dean will have speech three times a week, PT once a week and then a bit at school, and OT once a week. That's A LOT. Oh, and there's hippotherapy, too. Did I mention that he has school one morning and a teacher home visit another? And he's two years old? These definitely aren't optional activities as if I'd signed him up for gymnastics, French, karate, basket-weaving, and piano (nothing wrong with those things, just would be a big load for a two-year-old :))... and yet, we need to strike a balance. It's hard to think about cutting things out when you know how much your child needs them. We're praying for wisdom and clarity about how to help Dean in the short run so that his journey for the long-run is the best it can be for him *and* for the rest of our family. :)

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