Therapy Tips #3
If you are a person with a child with a disability one of the best things that you can do is to become an expert on your child. The next best thing that you can do is to become your child's biggest advocate. So many times we rely on the "experts" to help us know what to do for our kids, but honestly, you are the one that lives with them and you are the one that knows them best! YES! We obviously need doctors, OT's, PT's and Special Ed. teachers to give insight and input, but you are the one that knows best when something needs attention. As parents it is our job to speak up and take hold of the situation for the sake of this little one that we love so much.
Not long ago I had a mom tell me that she had some real concerns for her infant child. She had been told some things by a couple of doctors, but in her heart of hearts she was not satisfied. The treatment that they were recommending did not sit well with her. When I asked her if she went for a second or third opinion she said "No, this doctor thinks we should do this so we will try." I replied, "Well, there is nothing wrong with trying, but in your "mommy heart" what is best? You feel that they are putting a band aid on the problem instead of getting to the root of the issue? You have to continue on until you find someone who is willing to work with you!"
As parents we know what our kids can handle. Others may look at them and see that there are needs, but we know the real deal when it comes to our kids.
- If you TRY a new treatment (and give it a real go) and it does not seem to be working... do not hesitate to express your concerns. Seek out other professionals in the field until you find something that does seem to work. It's tiring, but it's worth the effort!
- If an IEP is written for your child and the goals are not being met... do your best to help those goals become reality for your child. Do not solely rely on the teachers to help your child meet them. Ultimately it is YOUR responsibility to educate your child. If a goal or modification needs to be added request a meeting and add it! A separate setting for testing, preferential seating in the classroom, extended time on tests, breaks during a test, etc. are all modifications that can be included in a child's plan. Do not hesitate to ask!!
Coming down off of the soapbox now. Thank you for not throwing things.
Any game that requires pulling or pushing is so great for upper body endurance and gross motor skill development. Tug of war, pulling a wagon or playing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" sitting on the floor facing each other, feet together, pulling hands back and forth require upper arm strength and will help those muscles develop. For older kids... wall push ups, chair dips and floor push ups are all great upper body muscle builders. Wheel barrow walks, crab and bear walks and monkey bars on the playground give kids with sensory issues input into their muscles and can be calming so that they can focus on school work. (We do these before we try homework or any type of activity where I need for Caroline to focus. She loves it!)
For eye/hand coordination do building games. Lego's, blocks and other building items are great. You can also practice cognitive skills by building something for your child to copy. Use three blocks at first and make a pattern.. then ask your child to copy it. Increase the number of blocks with each design to see how many patterns they can make. This requires planning and coordination for your child and is a challenge for kids with cognitive delays.
For children with sensory issues a weighted pillow or blanket is very soothing and will help calm their sensory craved muscles so that they can focus. Get a bag of rice and wrap it in a soft fabric. Send it to school for group time when kids need to sit to listen. Have the child hold the rice on their lap during the group time for a calming effect.
Above all.. pray, pray, pray! The Lord knows every need that your family has as you deal with the day to day of a child with special needs. No matter how severe ... disabilities are difficult for any family. No one can do it on their own. It takes love and support from many friends and family, but without the loving hands of our Heavenly Father to hold us as we travel this road we will certainly be overwhelmed. He knows our child better than anyone! EVEN US! He created them and He has a plan through this situation. Seek Him! Know Him and allow Him to hold you as you seek to be the best parent and advocate that you can be!