I’m Erin, a proud therapy mom. Therapy has become a very important part of our lives. I never knew therapy existed for children, but when my son with born with Down syndrome, I was made aware of the delays that he could face. So how was I going to help him succeed?
Our first step was working with our school district who provided all the help they could with the resources given. They gave us great help, but when I learned of private therapy from another mom in my Down syndrome community, I immediately became intrigued and dived right in. That was the beginning, and I’ve learned so much in our three years of doing physical, occupational and speech therapy through a private center.
You may see me in public doing things a little differently than the typical mom. I am the mom who is constantly offering her son every kind of treat just to get him to try it and cheering like a crazy sports fan when he eats a whole cookie (it only happened once). My son is constantly on my phone. He is either watching signing time, learning his colors by touching the Snapchat (yellow), YouTube (red), phone (green), and Skype (blue) icons on my phone, or taking selfies and trying to say, “Cheeeese.” I also have a speech folder on my phone with flashcards he is working on. He takes every single book out at the library and tries to make the largest tower. But he never puts his books back because he usually is bolting towards the door. At music class, he is the boy in the middle of the circle jumping and dancing the entire class length. If a boy’s gotta jump around, I don’t want to stop the practicing of this skill that a lot of us take for granted. And we are constantly singing wherever we go. Music is everything and has improved his speech and memorization tremendously.
All of these skills he has been working on for over three years. I have this mindset of always building skills, so we do things a little differently usually incorporating a lot of fun. It’s one of the many lessons I have learned from my son attending weekly therapy. One of the most important lessons I have learned from therapy is how to be truly thankful. I cannot express my gratitude enough, but here is a glimpse why I’m a thankful therapy mom.
It lessens my mom guilt
Being a mom of three kiddos has made my time extremely scarce. I try my hardest everyday to work 1-on-1 with each child, but most days I feel like I have received a big fat F in the department. Therapy gives my son the 1-on-1 attention he needs to learn and grow in each area. He is doing awesome and progressing quite well. I have never, ever complained that therapy is “another appointment” or have moaned and groaned about having to drive there two days a week, every week. I know this is the best for him and am thankful for the for all the input and ideas from the therapists to further help him while at home.
Learning to trust
My son has learned to trust the entire staff and enjoys seeing everyone’s bright smiles. He feels safe and is always excited to go to his therapy center. As for me, I trust all the evaluations I am given on his progress and where he is at. I trust that they know how to help Ronin the most. While it may be hard to see and hear how delayed your child really is, at therapy, we don’t focus all of our energy on that but focus on our current goals and how we make it to the next step. One step at a time is what we live by.
The therapists and staff are amazing
When my son started physical therapy at four months old, I didn’t know how he would do with strangers or new people. I got to personally see his trust evolve with staff. Even with a minor setback of separation anxiety and even contemplating taking a break because of it, his therapist stuck with it and helped him get through it. He loves going to therapy and it is like a second home to him. We see so many friends there weekly, have met new friends there and its a safe place to go and not feel like you are judged. Therapists are a vital piece to your child’s care team and want to do everything they can to help your child succeed. In fact, when my son gets off his bus from preschool, he asks for chicken nuggets (lunch), Moana (what he wants to watch) and Debbie (his speech therapist – he wants to go to therapy). I cannot say enough about the therapy team and staff. They are wonderful!
I get respite aka a break!
When we started at our therapy center, they said as Ronin got older, I had the option to stay with him or leave him to work with his therapist alone. After finding out that having mom in the room is a major distraction from working hard, I had no problem bowing out to the waiting room. After he got comfortable, I even got the courage to leave the therapy center and then return when he was done. This has done wonders for myself and my older boys. I get to venture out into the community twice a week sans kids or if the older boys are at home, I get to spend quality time alone with them at a park or at the library while little brother is at therapy. I haven’t been able to have an option to have a break like this since I’ve had my kids. Some days I choose to just relax in the waiting room and browse social media or make those important phone calls that I never get around to making. I will take any alone time I can get, wherever it may be. Moms need self-care too, and this is one piece of the puzzle to mine.
My son will most likely be in therapy for a very long time. I’m thankful to be living in this age of technology and information where it’s possible for him to get the extra help he needs. I’ve already seen all his hard work pay off, and as his mom, whatever he needs to succeed, is what I’ll do my very best to provide. We are climbing our own mountain, at our own pace, and we are really happy with where we are and where we are headed.