I would like to think that I have this whole special needs parenting gig down pat, but I honestly don’t. Special needs parenting is never the same from one day to the next. Not for our family anyway. We try like heck to keep things in order and maintain our own personal lives, but I am here to tell you that we fail at all of it on the regular.
When our son was a year old, he showed some delays with his speech and his motor skills. We were advised to start speech therapy and occupational therapy a few days a week through Early Intervention, which he began at 14 months. Looking back on those early year’s, it was so simple compared to now. The therapists would come to the house, play with our baby boy, and give us some paperwork to read with instructions to carry over therapies ourselves. They continued to do this two days a week until he aged out of EI at age 3. This is where the really big and heavy stuff came to light and it has not stopped since.
Over the year’s since this special needs journey started, I often find myself questioning how much therapy is too much? Since our son turned 3 years-old we have been in a bubble of therapies including: speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, behavior therapy (ABA), social skills classes, and the Chiropractor (once a week). I travel over an hour to/from these therapies four days a week and I sit at the therapy center he goes to for 3-4 hours each day because it is too far to travel back and forth with traffic through the city. When I say I feel burnt out most days, I mean MAJOR burn out and I don’t see any end in sight.
So back to that question above, HOW much therapy is TOO much? And when do you just stop and think “is this really worth it”? I have to admit that I fall somewhere between let go and allow nature to take it’s course, and he NEEDS these therapies so suck it up soldier! There is no in-between. Maybe that is where I need to be in all of this. In the middle. NOT full on therapy mode but not nothing either. So where is that middle ground? What does that look like? Since we began this journey we have been DRILLED to think that our son needs ALL of this therapy in order to get better. But what if, WHAT IF this is our lifelong journey? What if he isn’t going to get better? When do we pull back and just let him be the amazing human he is and JUST BE??!! I am so thankful for the therapy center he goes to. SO FREAKING THANKFUL! I am thankful we have the opportunities we have found for him, and I don’t want him to miss out on these therapies and interventions that will hopefully give him a better quality of life. I just can’t help but wonder if LIVING and PLAYING and EXPLORING would give him even more quality of life. Bring experiences to his world and let him navigate through it. With help of course, but let HIM be who GOD made him to be. I truly haven’t seen THAT much growth in the 7 year’s we have been at this to fully back the notion that THIS is how it has to be for him.
When we are home, or our doing things we enjoy doing, I see a sense of calm in my son. He also learns better this way and is more focused and engaged. I love seeing this side of him. I want that for him. I want more playdates, hikes, swimming, scavenger hunts, bike rides, scooter races, playground adventures, museums, zoo’s, and camps. Horseback riding, dancing in the rain, kayaking, trips to the beach, and just being present. In the moment. Am I throwing him and myself into the daily therapy schedule because it is best or because I am constantly being told he needs MORE. What if I believe less is more?? What if I want to show him that there is more to life than speech therapy, ABA therapy, social skills classes, evaluations, etc. What if I want to take him by the hand and show him that it’s ok to let go and let God. Let go. And let God. Together.