Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Little Slow on the Uptake

I'm talking about myself here. I'm a little slow on the uptake. Julia, on the other hand, has been clued in for quite some time. This time it involves a relationship with one of her therapists. Julia receives in-home therapies through a program called Early Intervention. Children with a wide range of disabilities are eligible for services such as physical, speech or occupational therapy from the time they are born until they turn three. Having Down Syndrome automatically qualifies someone for Early Intervention.

We've lived in 3 different states in Julia's 2 years, so she's seen her share of therapists. As with anything in life, we've connected with some better than others. But one in particular just doesn't seem to be the best match...and Julia's known it for a while.

It took me much longer to figure things out. I liked the therapist as an adult to talk to, and often by the time the therapist would arrive, I was so starved for adult conversation, I'd talk to anyone about anything. For a while, this helped hide the fact that the therapist almost never directly engaged Julia. Over time, however the interactions they did have became very adversarial. It got to the point that Julia cried as soon as this therapist came into our house. Eventually, the sessions evolved into me talking and not much more. I asked myself why I was talking so much during these sessions. Then the lightbulb went off: I was simply trying to fill the awkward, painful silence.

At a recent session involving this therapist, Julia demonstrated that she had made substantial progress, and I was heaping praise on her. Julia turned to the therapist for feedback and got nothing. The therapist wasn't even looking at Julia. I finally had to get her attention and tell her that Julia was seeking applause. It was only then that I realized why Julia had been so resistant to this particular activity and therapy. She knew the person forcing it on her didn't much care for her and wasn't even going to try to make it enjoyable. Only when I took a couple weeks off from this particular activity to regroup did I realize I had to work with Julia, not against her. Only then did we began to make progress. (Talk about slow on the uptake, right?)

So now the question becomes, how do we address this at Julia's upcoming IFSP review? I already had the current EI providers change one of her therapists because we had a bad match. Why does it always seem to be a battle between parents and providers? Veterans in the special needs parenting community, what say you?

Just look what I can do!

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