Catching Flies: Working With Your Child’s Therapists

One the things that I think is most important for the well-being of your special needs child, or really any child, is to do everything you can to work with the professionals in your child’s life.
I say, start by killing them with kindness. It’s easy enough to get firm and call lawyers later if necessary, but believe me when I say that you can get a lot by just being nice.

I’ll use Charlie’s Early Intervention services as an example.

When Charlie entered the program at four months of age, he needed a physical therapist, but there were none available so he was assigned an occupational therapist. His OT is a very nice woman, but she has a very full schedule and sometimes she runs late and sometimes she can’t make it. I didn’t complain about schedule shifts and always greeted her nicely and sometimes offered her a diet coke when she was over. Not major stuff, but nice stuff. I always stayed in the room during therapy and tried to be an active participant (except speech–I have to keep back a little or I try to talk for Charlie).

Our OT ended up calling a PT who was on maternity leave and got her to agree to take Charlie when she came back.

When our speech therapist wasn’t working, our OT called up another one that only takes clients on referral and got her to take on Charlie–she’s perfect for him.

Our OT brings us hand-me-down equipment when people donate it to her employer.

I treat the other therapists the same. I try to be accommodating–getting upset doesn’t make them magically on-time nor does it prevent the occasional cancellation.

Our PT offered to add a second day with Charlie when I got fed up with the private place. She’s also offered to attend doctors appointments with us.

When therapists can’t make it, they try to reschedule.

Charlie’s six month reviews have record attendance.

Our PT got pregnant again and had to assign some of her patients to a PT assistant–guess who she kept?

Charlie’s cute, but he’s not that cute. I really think that by trying to be accommodating, participating fully in the rehabilitation process, and treating everyone with respect I’ve gotten some the best treatment around.

As a teacher I know I bent over backwards for parents who called and chatted with me rather than yelled and berated.

With students, I got far better response by praising good deeds than yelling about bad. I could turn behavior around faster with a sweet voice as well. Don’t underestimate your smile–it’s a weapon.

Sometimes you have to get tough, but sugar can be an awfully good too.

Charlie playing my mom’s piano. I know one of them is blurry, but he’s using both hands! Had to share that.

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Comments

  1. I am just posting about how I love my main PT. Scheduling with him requires flexibility. He does two different clinics, sees private patients and we get the benefit of his services as part of his EI caseload, so way cheaper than when we started with him, but I love him so much I will accomodate any schedule issues to keep seeing him, and when we age out of EI I will pay private rates to see him. And because I treat him that way, he THANKS ME for the privilege of working with my daughter. You, my dear, are absolutely correct.

  2. Can you read Chinese? Yeah, me either but anyway… The pictures of Charlie are adorable! I totally agree with this post and have nothing more to add…

  3. Love Charlie's pictures…..Mozart anyone?

  4. We have an HMO, so any time I want to take Little Bird to a specialist (even if it's for a follow up), I need a referral from her primary care pediatrician. Our doc is super cool and absolutely great if I need her to look in the bird's ears or something like that, but she readily admits that she knows very little about neuro-muscular stuff or Autism. She's told me that she often learns the most by reading my blog! Anyway, since she knows little about our "special needs", she trusts the research I do and is happy to provide a referral (or 50). But, technically, I'm supposed to make an appt with her, bring in the patient, state my case, pay the $25 visit fee and get the referral then. A few years ago, I started baking cookies and brownies and dropping them off for her staff with a picture of Little Bird and note thanking them for always taking such great care of my girl. This way, they remember us, like us, and I just have to call them for referrals now. I save the $25, the trip to a doc with the bird, and a whole lotta sanity :)

  5. I think this is so true. We have been really blessed by our early intervention therapists and I'd like to think they have been blessed by us too. Our PT has been tardy alot lately but we like her alot and wouldn't want to mess up a good thing so why make a fuss over her being 15min late sometimes.
    I am a little sad that my little guy is aging out of the system and into the developmental preschool because I love our therapists! We have had them for almost two years now. I think they're sad to be losing us too. We're hoping to keep in touch with them in the future.

  6. Great points, I have also found this to be very true. I have even become really good friends with a couple of his therapists, hanging out outside of therapy sessions.

  7. Since Luke was almost 28-months when he came home, there wasn't much EI. However, I really, really try to treat his teachers and therapists this way. I always assume they are doing the best they can. I always ask myself, would/could I do better?

    I really like some of the ideas in the comments. I really need to take some goodies to the ped's office.

    Next week is the 7:30 am IEP meeting — already planning on the bagels and pastries :-)

  8. ferfischer says:

    I could not agree more. Am totally sharing this.

  9. Oh goodness….those piano pictures are just perfect! Elisabeth and Charlie would get along well :)

    Great advice. I agree that kindness can go a long way!

  10. Amy Genn says:

    Katy – you are a Saint.

    I am not.

    I have built some great relationships with the therapists and doctors, but sometimes I lose my cool when I feel I'm being forced to jump through rediculous hoops.

    Alas……your commenters have some great ideas – I never thought of taking treats to the Dr.'s office.

  11. TheRextras says:

    Awww! Thanks, Katy!

    We are only human, but do our best.

    Barbara

  12. I totally agree with the "kill them with kindness" approach. I really do think you get more by being nice. There are, of course, times when it's needed to be a bit more firm, but I believe that's only necessary when the kindness approach isn't working.

    Our EI therapists are great. Has it been perfect? Nope, but we've developed great relationships and I consider many of them my friends. They've done a lot to help Elijah (and me!).

  13. I LOVE that quote–"Don't underestimate your smile. It's a weapon." You are so right. There's rarely anything to be gained by losing your temper and going off at anyone. No one likes to be yelled at. Therapists are people too…right? Great pictures of Charlie at the piano.

  14. I love that quote: "Don't underestimate your smile. It's a weapon." How great is that?
    This post is so true. There's rarely anything to be gained by losing your temper and popping off at the mouth. No one likes to be yelled at or belittled…and therapists are people too…right?

  15. Okay I just left 2 comments because I didn't see my first one show up. Just delete, delete, if you please.

  16. You have a point (speaking as someone who's had a lifetime of tying to work with people. I like gifts, I bring gifts, if someone isn't there that use to take care of me (during hospitalization) I leave a note. Sometimes it's hard to do, but it really does work.

  17. Early Intervention and I did NOT get along. I went for private therapy all the way and loved it.

    Loved all his therapists, even the ones who didn't/couldn't really help Graham.

    The piano pictures are kick a**!!!

    What a cutie.