Having a kid in therapy (ahem: multiple therapies) sort of puts me in a twilight of feelings, not quite exactly sure how I should feel. On one hand, the fact that I have a child that requires therapy can be slightly oh…I don’t know…dampening. I mean, no one ever really imagines their child as less than perfect, you know?
But on the other hand, having therapies available when your child needs them is pure genius and an absolute lifesaver. Where would we be without these therapists to help correct bad muscle behavior and show us ways around physical roadblocks and epic stubbornness?
Ollie met his Occupational Therapist back in August of 2009. At the time, he was 5 months (adjusted, 8 actual) and hadn’t hit any physical developmental milestones. He didn’t roll over until a month later, and hated-hated-hated anything resembling tummy time. It was clear he needed help, so we set up OT for once a week, every week. And, while he protested loudly, she’d encourage him and his body to work together to accomplish some tasks. We’d have homework – stretches and exercises – to work on, and she eventually provided us with The SS Oliver to help him build some muscles and relax others to help him start sitting.
Honestly, I hated it. I hated that my child would be considered Special Needs because of his early birth. I hated that I had no idea how to get him to do the things that she could in a 45 minute time slot. I hated that my kid needed therapy, even with me working with him all day, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I don’t want to say I felt like a failure, but I certainly didn’t feel successful.
But, along the way, after over a year of weekly visits, I noticed I started looking forward to her visits. Especially when I really took note of how much Ollie enjoys his weekly play-dates.
Ollie has enjoyed working with his OT pretty much since Day One. While she might not have always let him do what he wants, he would cry, get it out, and then go back to grinning at her. He’s not a grudge-holder, this little guy. He likes Occupational Therapy. Or, maybe more specifically, he likes his Occupational Therapist. She’s fun and he’d get excited when she came through the door, waving his arms and grinning. As he gained more and more skills, the sessions became less and less grueling, and while she may have taught him a few things in the past few months, it was clear…
He didn’t need her anymore.
So, we’ve been graduated from Occupational Therapy.
I can’t put an exclamation point on that sentence. Only because I enjoyed working with his OT just as much as Ollie did, and I’m going to miss her visits. They weren’t just a reason to straighten the house, her visits were a great way for me to shine some pride on my little guy. She remembered him as a pretty helpless 5 month old and could marvel at his success with the appropriate level of enthusiasm. She knew the answers to my questions and reassured me that, yes, he will do everything he’s supposed to. He just suffered from Typical Micro-Preemie Behavior – an all around stubbornness that’s very helpful when he’s struggling to live, but kind of a hindrance when learning new things.
So, when a recent Wednesday came and she had her Big Duffel Bag of Toys with her, I kinda knew he’d be evaluated that day. She put out toys he hadn’t seen in awhile and asked him to work out new hand-eye-brain coordinating puzzles and he passed with pretty good colors. He put pegs in holes, he scribbled with crayons, he put a couple beads in a jar and demonstrated his overall awesomeness.
So, while I’m thrilled to say that my Ollie is catching up to his peers, it’s also a little sad to me that we’re dismissing a member of the team that worked so hard to help him get to where he is. Here’s this woman who was just randomly assigned to our family, who helped our little boy become who he is, who thought about him outside of our sessions and and really seemed to care about his progress. We didn’t pick her, she didn’t pick us, but she happened to be the perfect choice.
But when sessions feel more like a social visit than anything else, it’s time to let her go help some other kid in the city who was born too early.