For the parent of a child with special needs or developmental delays, success may not always look the same. As a physical therapist for many years, I have learned to see success in day to day measures. I get a huge sense of gratification when a parent tells me they have put a baby gate up because their once immobile child is now getting into everything. Stainless steel appliances are very popular, but they sure do fingerprint easily. The next time you stop to clean off those little handprints stop for a moment and think, was my child able to stand and place these prints a few months ago?
I once had a parent come into therapy and tell me I was in ‘big trouble’ because their two-year-old had climbed a ladder left in the middle of the living room. I had a little chuckle and may have then congratulated him on his success; his curiosity was developmentally appropriate, and now he had the skills to check out the world.
My son had delays with communication and received speech therapy until age 3. He is now 6 and I’m not sure he has paused to take a breath between stories since. I used to joke with his speech therapist we would need to do therapy in the bathroom at Chipotle, because the echo in there sure made him vocal. That memory brings a smile to my face and is a good reminder of his hard work. It still amazes me all he has accomplished in the last 3 years.
As therapists, we set goals so the insurance companies have a measure to monitor progress. As parents we want our kids to grow up and reach their full potential. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and smile, not to miss the ‘little things’ that our kids worked so hard to do. Letting them know, “wow, you couldn’t do that a couple weeks ago” is a great boost to their pride and also helps give our busy lives perspective. As parents, we would love to hear what you would like therapy to help your child accomplish. Is there a task that makes it difficult for your child to participate in a family event? Tell us! The Team 4 Kids therapists at our Surprise or Peoria location would love to help you brainstorm ways to make it happen.
Amber Oswald PT, DPT