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Support thread for parents doing therapy at home


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We're now out the other end of the therapy tunnel; take heart, there is an end. And for us at least, it was worth while.


Dd had two rounds of VT, over a year of OT, social skills therapy. None of this was considered medically necessary, so our insurance didn't cover any of it. And dd HATED the homework exercises after the first few weeks of newness wore off. All the therapy places were at least a half hour drive one-way, longer in traffic. It just took enormous chunks out of the day -- and I only have one child, so I didn't have to juggle other kids in waiting rooms or anything.


How old is your ds? The good thing about doing therapy when they're young is that they are more amenable to it, therapists can often make it fun, and they don't know any other way of life, so it doesn't seem so different to them as it does when they're older. Dd had her first rounds of therapies between the ages of eight and eleven or so. By the time she was twelve and I took her back to OT to see about her problems with chewing and textures, she'd had enough; it wasn't fun any more; and she knew that OT was something you did when something was "wrong" or "different," despite the fact that we had never used those words. She still handles her food like a very young child.


The OT did work wonders for dd's balance. She learned to ride a bike at last at age nine, learned to jump on a pogo stick and walk on stilts. But the OT couldn't manage much for fine motor problems and dysgraphia despite a lot of trying (dd was resistant even then). Vision therapy was also marvelous; dd developed binocular vision probably for the first time, stopped bumping into and dropping everything, was no longer afraid of games like tag or things involving rapid movement, learned to throw and catch and duck out of the way of a ball.


I read that the neurotypical child is born with the metaphorical equivalent of a high school diploma in terms of sensory organization and bodily function; my child had to go through "school" and learn how to do all the things other kids picked up naturally. That schooling was just as important, if not more so, than academics, and had to have priority -- only through vision therapy, for instance, was dd able to gain reading stamina and the ability to read without headaches. Only through horseback riding, which she began at age eleven, did she acquire more core strength, stability, and fine motor skills which transferred over to her writing.


The more I could think of the body and sensory systems as absolutely, utterly inseparable from the mind, the more I was willing to put in the time for therapies and not think there was something better or more important we could be doing.


This doesn't mean that academic life is at a halt while therapies are going on. But we emphasized lots and lots of read-alouds, constant discussions of what we read, informal and often oral math, games and puzzles rather than written work, science activities rather than book work. When a child's physical and neurological systems finally straighten out, you'd be amazed at how much can be zoomed through in a short amount of time.

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Just another point of commiseration: I remember how it felt so crazy to see my dd being shuffled from one balancing piece of equipment to the next in OT, and wondering how in the world she was supposed to better her balance if she didn't get to stick with one thing long enough to figure it out and get good at it. Once I began reading and asking questions, I learned that it is precisely the requirement that a child re-configure balance and not become "set" in one strategy or position that is the key. Things that don't make sense at first sometimes do later on, when you know enough or feel brave enough to ask lots of questions.


On the other hand, there are definitely fads in OT and VT as with everything else in the world, and someone just entering that world has no clue which are fads and which are more tried and true. There are believers for just about every technique. If your child is getting a good mix of activities and processes, I don't think it's a problem; but still, the practitioners should be able to explain the value and purpose of the exercises to you and not be defensive or dismissive of your questions. I love my OT for letting me sit in on whatever sessions I wished to, and for her running commentary on why she was doing what she did. I learned a lot from her about ways to help my daughter acquire new skills.

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