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Therapy Urgency - How urgent is it really?



Once you get on the therapy merry-go-round, there seems to be a sense of urgency to get all therapy you can and get it now!!! It can feel like a lot of pressure. For many parents, the pressure to have multiple therpy appointments each week can be intense and dare I say it, unhelpful. Although we are running a marathon, we do therapy like a sprint with intense training to exhaustion. It's OK to stop at the drink station frequently and regularly when you run a marathon. The same can be true for therapy. Autism is life long. it's not a race. People develop in their own time and in their own way, with support. Therapy is great! It can be helpful. But it isn't everything going on in your life, even it feels that way sometimes. It's not an emergency or a sprint. It's more of a dawdle and rest, then a bit of a walk, then sometimes going backwards and retracing our steps. Development doesn't go in a straight line. It's a bit more like a butterfly landing on flowers intermittantly and then flying again.


The pressure to have intensive therapy can be for several reasons. Sometimes the best can results can be achieved with regular and frequent therapy. People forget what to do, especially if they are feeling overwhelmed with the situation. It can be good to have support, even if you know what you're supposed to be doing and why. It's hard doing it alone and it's nice to have someone on your team for support.


Sometimes parents are pressured and even bullied into mainting a gruelling therapy schedule for the money. There's a fear that if you don't use your NDIS funding you'll lose it. Smart businesses don't want to leave money on the table going to waste that they could have had. The pressure to not cancel can be felt by parents, even though they are still billed for the missed session. Previously NDIS required 7 days noticed before a cancellation. How do you know if your child will be sick 7 days from now to plan a cancellation. It's not always about the money. To be fair many therapists are caring. But sometimes they are getting pressure from supervisors to push for the appointments. I've heard of parents being shamed, bullied and guilted into keeping appointments they don't want.


What's the answer? I'm a big believer in trusting your gut. Listening to our mind and body is one of the best ways to keep safe. Why would I use the word safe? Sometimes we ignore our own feelings only find we were right later on and regret not trusting ourselves. Sometimes parents can feel threatedned especially if they are being bullied or coerced with guilt or shame and plain old distain for the parent. That does not feel safe and may set off your nervous system.


What I've found has worked best for me and my son over 35 years is to do blocks of therapy or bursts, then have a break. Adults and kids get tired of therapy. It's quite a big job to have weekly therapy and put it into practice between sessions. You may have more than one child receiving therapy, or you may have other kids who have soccer and dance practice, like many other parents. But therapy is next level difficult in my opinion.


There is a lot of demand on parents and kids. Why are therapy sessions always 60 minutes when a small child can only conentrate for much less time, even when it's fun. It's because it suits therapists. That's how we're trained. One hour sessions all the way. It works well with an appointment book, funding and invoicing. Hang on - what about what's good for your family and your child and you? It's OK to take your self into consideration too. Maybe your kids is doing great and loves therapy but you need a break. That's a good enough reason to take a break. If you go down with illness or fatigue or burnout, the whole ship may go down. Caring for yourself is one of the lovingest things you can do for yourself and for your family.


A block of therapy might be 6-8 weeks then there's a break. People need time to consolidate their learning and skills. People need a break at times - kids and adults. Time to relax. You can't be 'on' all the time. But this is how it feels sometimes. It's OK to be 'off' and give every body's mind and nervous system a rest and some recovery time.


I encourage you to take charge and be your own team leader. Decide what works best for you and your family and do that, even in the face of opposition. Maybe weekly therapy suits you, and that's great, do that. Maybe bursts suit you better. Then do that. Think about what works for your family and don't wait to have terms dictated to you. You are actually in charge! You can decide and choose. You are the warrior hero in your family. You can do it!

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