Monday, March 22, 2010

Catching Flies: Working With Your Child's Therapists

One the things that I think is most important for the well-being of your special needs child, or really any child, is to do everything you can to work with the professionals in your child's life.
I say, start by killing them with kindness. It's easy enough to get firm and call lawyers later if necessary, but believe me when I say that you can get a lot by just being nice.

I'll use Charlie's Early Intervention services as an example.

When Charlie entered the program at four months of age, he needed a physical therapist, but there were none available so he was assigned an occupational therapist. His OT is a very nice woman, but she has a very full schedule and sometimes she runs late and sometimes she can't make it. I didn't complain about schedule shifts and always greeted her nicely and sometimes offered her a diet coke when she was over. Not major stuff, but nice stuff. I always stayed in the room during therapy and tried to be an active participant (except speech--I have to keep back a little or I try to talk for Charlie).

Our OT ended up calling a PT who was on maternity leave and got her to agree to take Charlie when she came back.

When our speech therapist wasn't working, our OT called up another one that only takes clients on referral and got her to take on Charlie--she's perfect for him.

Our OT brings us hand-me-down equipment when people donate it to her employer.

I treat the other therapists the same. I try to be accommodating--getting upset doesn't make them magically on-time nor does it prevent the occasional cancellation.

Our PT offered to add a second day with Charlie when I got fed up with the private place. She's also offered to attend doctors appointments with us.

When therapists can't make it, they try to reschedule.

Charlie's six month reviews have record attendance.

Our PT got pregnant again and had to assign some of her patients to a PT assistant--guess who she kept?

Charlie's cute, but he's not that cute. I really think that by trying to be accommodating, participating fully in the rehabilitation process, and treating everyone with respect I've gotten some the best treatment around.

As a teacher I know I bent over backwards for parents who called and chatted with me rather than yelled and berated.

With students, I got far better response by praising good deeds than yelling about bad. I could turn behavior around faster with a sweet voice as well. Don't underestimate your smile--it's a weapon.

Sometimes you have to get tough, but sugar can be an awfully good too.

Charlie playing my mom's piano. I know one of them is blurry, but he's using both hands! Had to share that.