Q: If my child gets therapy, won’t the school assume there is something wrong with them and equate this with low intelligence?
A: Getting help for a bright child keeps them from becoming discouraged and defeated. It also breaks the academic mindset that “if they only tried harder, they could do it” dispels the myth that LD children are just “willful.” A competent therapist will communicate to the classroom teacher just what and why certain techniques are being used so that this can be replicated in the classroom to help ensure increase productivity and success.
Q: What if I get my child help, and they still have problems? Won’t I make things worse if I get accommodations and school issues persist?
A: No! Your child is smart enough to know something is not “quite right.” Your child is smart, she already feels “different.” With the learning service specialist you set realistic expectations for yourself, your child, and the teacher. Ask about what and how long a particular intervention is projected to take. Emphasize to the child that this is not something that is going to be necessarily fast, and that it is not being done to them but with their full cooperation.
Q: How do I answer my friends and family when they say that I am over-reacting? They tell me that I should just let my kid be a “kid,” that they are bright and I shouldn’t “stir up stuff.
A: The “stuff” is already stirred. Getting help for your child HELPS – period. Old stereotypes and clichés die slow and hard. Your friends and family that would say these things are speaking from their own fears and misconceptions. They have not participated in the meetings, they have not read the reports, they have not talked to professionals, and they have not seen the daily turmoil your child is in. Don’t listen! This is an informed decision that you as a parent have made after careful considerations and consultations; and in response to your child’s expressed (physical, emotional verbal) discomforts.
Q: How do I include the educational setting in the therapy process?
A: Good communication helps to make the teacher feel like an intrinsic part of the academic team and an enabler for the child’s success. Since it is, by law, the job of the school to teach, then help the teacher teach. If therapy is undertaken with an awareness of each particular school’s mission it will only enhance the success of all involved–the school, the teacher, the therapist, and most important the child. Competence is self-perpetuating.
Q: What should I expect from therapy? When will I notice a change?
A: You should expect therapy to be like any new experience for your child. If they adjust easily to new situations then the start will be more spontaneous than for the child who resists change and/or new situations.
Expect stops and starts as therapy progresses. Your child knows they are being brought somewhere to fix something. Although they may want it “fixed,” they may resent having to need any type of intervention.
Support the therapy process by explaining why they are going. Do not make it a discussion. This was a decision you made after careful consideration. Do not bargain. This is not negotiable. For therapy to work, the process is initiated in treatment and supported at home. “OT homework” should be taken as seriously as school homework. Progress depends on commitment.
Changes will be subtle at first. A child who comes to therapy with three shirts on may reduce the need to be covered, indicating a normalization of his tactile system. Another child who is generally a couch potato may want to go out to play; while another who is clumsy may be demonstrating more agility.
Progress is often met with resistance on the part of the child. This stranger, the therapist, is asking him to give up a way of doing something, however maladaptive, and, on faith, try something new with only the therapist’s word that it will be worth the effort to learn and use it. Traditional learning is hard for these children. They have had problems with it, and now this relative stranger is asking them to learn something unfamiliar in an unfamiliar way in an unfamiliar setting. WOW!!! This is very threatening to your child, and when threatened people react with rejection, anger and fear. Your child is no different. That is why your support is vital to the success of therapy.
Q: Why is my child a whiz on the computer, but can’t do work in class? Why not just give him a laptop to work with instead of paper & pencil?
A: Computers are useful tools after the child has attained adequate in-hand manipulation skills. These skills can only be acquired by using one’s own hands, and putting your forefinger on a mouse, or moving a joystick or an adapted keyboard cannot replace the agility learned through “old-fashioned” play: jacks, finger painting, handlooms, lacing crafts, etc. Computers reinforce straight-ahead, focal vision-play and not peripheral vision (surrounding side stimuli). A child who does not develop this at a young age may have difficulty picking up on visual cues in the classroom, i.e., blackboard work, the following of sequences and visual tracking.
Q: Why isn’t my child having fun in OT, like he did at the beginning? I want my child to be happy!
A: There is a difference between happiness and fun. Fun does not add to one’s abilities. Happiness is intrinsically related to the attainment of skills and subsequent feelings of competency; which in turn increase one’s emotional security. The path to this security is often hard won. Your job, as the parent, is to keep them motivated through this unfamiliar and challenging process.
Q: My kid is the star soccer player, how can he have motor problems?
A: Soccer is a gross motor activity that requires, on the elementary levels, minimal to moderate precision. In addition, because it is a large motor, constant movement activity, children with some signs of attention issues find this continuous movement sport in agreement with their need to be in constant motion.
Q: Why didn’t my doctor find developmental problems during routine examinations?
A: Physicians are trained to look for systemic and developmental milestone attainment. If the child is well physically, and is walking, running, etc. within normal limits, they may appear “fine.” Doctors are not trained to look at the “style” in which a child is accomplishing specific tasks (which is often one of the primary indicators of motor issues).
Q: Why didn’t the preschool teacher alert me?
A: Children attend preschool earlier and earlier in their young lives. Day care situations are concerned with the wellbeing of your child and if they are “happy.” Pre-first and kindergarten teachers often see that a child is performing differently from others, but may be hesitant to approach the parent for several reasons. Some of the most common reasons are:
They are not diagnosticians.
They have probably not done any formal testing.
Often parents become defensive.
This is not news parents understand or want to hear. They often prefer to believe the child will “outgrow” the problem.
Q: What is the academic relevance?
A: Academic relevance is the situation that requires that one be able to fixate, organize, integrate, and feedback specific information in a sequential logical order. If a child is having difficulty staying in a chair, is poorly organized, cannot cross the midline of his body and has muscle tone that sends inappropriate signals (to hold a pencil too tight or too loose for example), then performing even the most simple of classroom tasks can become overwhelming. As an overwhelmed child becomes a defeated child, and a defeated child fails, even those with superior intelligence fail.
Q: How is occupational therapy compatible and of assistance to classroom situations, tutoring, speech, etc.? Why won’t just tutoring help?
A: Tutoring is a one-on-one education; that is, more of the same only individualized. It does not fix neuromuscular issues. Speech, which has its foundation in the neuromotor arena, is a small muscle skill. Often it is important to get the larger muscles to do first what you want the smaller ones to eventually attain. Occupational therapy helps in the classroom by giving the child the internal abilities to receive, organize and utilize required information. Occupational therapy works on these internal abilities. If a child is not constantly moving, is able to write and read what is written, finish work on time, then success in the classroom is enhanced.
Tutoring is important because it reinforces hard-to-grasp concepts and procedures in a private safe environment. The classroom is important because, in addition to facts, the child learns invaluable social skills. Speech is important because, in addition to articulation, it teaches receptive and expressive language skills. Occupational therapy is important because it teaches the underlying skills, and the neuromotor organizational abilities which are the foundation of all learning.
Get answers to all of your important questions by contacting us. We happily provide our services to residents of Atlanta, GA.