With the plethora of therapies available to the special needs community, there is a natural tendency to want to try something, anything from hyperbaric chambers to measuring herbs, hoping it works (depending on what outcome you are after). I have seen parents try one thing after another, without slowing down, without investing enough time, hoping for instant results. The problem is many individuals find themselves trying something for short periods of times expecting lasting results. There is truly no real commitment to the therapy – the only commitment is to wanting change in an expedient manner.
Drive Thru Mentality
I have seen many families where there were doubts if a child would ever talk. Now some of these same kids are difficult to verbally contain – but the time it takes to get a child to this point takes perseverance and acceptance. Sometimes you take one step forward and two steps back – but you don’t give up; you must never give up.
We live in a “have it your way,” drive thru, fast food society and the carry over into the rest of our lives is truly evident. It is worth the time to slow down and ask yourself some questions about goals and realistic expectations for your child. You may find it helpful to work through these issues and more with a professional. A professional can help you prepare for this journey and keep you on track.
When families or individuals enter into a therapeutic relationship with a clinical social worker, licensed practical counselor, marriage and family therapist, or psychologist, here are some factors to consider:
- Understand that therapy is not easy work, but is a first step in the right direction.
- Success of families who enter therapy is dependent on many things, such as weekly visits, multiple family member visits, health, economics, various commitment levels, personal agendas, individual family histories, denial and commitment levels. These are only a few of the variables which enter in to the therapeutic relationship.
- Facing your personal demons in order to help your own child is not to be taken lightly and is certainly not an easy task. Remember, we like to drive thru – it is a society issue but it doesn’t have to be our issue.
- Once you make your initial contact with a therapist (I know this is not an easy task), make sure that you honor your commitment.
- If the therapy is for your child, you are doing an injustice if you begin a therapeutic relationship and then withdraw from this relationship prematurely. Sporadic therapy is not effective. It isn’t therapy. It’s more like intermittent visits to a distant cousin. It doesn’t allow a therapeutic relationship to grow.
- If the therapy is for you because you are an overwhelmed caregiver, then there are no excuses in the world that should keep you from your once a week commitment to yourself. “Happy caregiver, happy child” is a phrase I frequently quote. Because many special needs children operate at much higher frequencies then we do, they can sense when you are upset. One family going through a divorce who thought their kids were oblivious were sadly mistaken. As the tension in the home exacerbated, so did the violent behaviors with the kids. Remember, many children with special needs behave in their own unique way – what may seem like withdrawal to you, may actually be likened to a state of meditation or processing time.
Whatever therapies you choose, by all means, be willing to give those therapies the time and commitment that is required in order to achieve success.