When Therapy Is No Longer Therapeutic

As summer approaches I have been working on my summer schedule with all my families. This is always a scheduling challenge, but more importantly it brings up a lot of big questions.

One big question is when do kids need a break? Some kids with special needs are scheduled morning to night all year round. They are in school all day and then going to therapy appointments that can go as late as 7 at night. More therapy is often good, but when is it too much? When are kids having time (and typical kids who are participating in a multitude of activities have this same challenge!) to process all their learning and new experiences and to develop the trial and error skills of practice.

Another big question related to this came up when I was chatting with my daughter’s music teacher who has started up some classes for kids with special needs. She was able to get a grant so that the classes are free, but she still wasn’t getting a great turnout. I felt that some of this was due to the need for a perspective shift. One of the most important pieces of childhood…and LIFE for that matter is FUN. We are often so focused on accomplishing x, y, or z skill that we sometimes need to step back and let the child be a child. Sometimes we need to choose an activity because it will bring joy, not to address a challenge. In fact this plays into the child’s strengths, which will more naturally lead to new skills.

Parents of kids with special needs are constantly making choices about the best route to go for their child. There are so many options and opinions and you could go nuts reading about the myriad of programs available online. Sometimes as therapists we need to be ok with suggesting to take a break and as parents we need to make a paradigm shift and realize that more is not always better. We also should look at alternative models of therapy- maybe going to a therapy session twice a week is not going to be as effective as intensives every few months. Kids are dynamic and their needs will always be changing- we have the impossible task of keeping up with them and trying to make the best decisions we can!

3 replies
  1. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    I’m with you on this one, Joni! However, I find this message requires a pretty consistent drumbeat. I try to influence the ‘lifestyle’ of children by convincing their parents of the effectiveness of daily habits that are therapeutic. (ie a therapeutic lifestyle). This takes the emphasis off of pill-dosed 2x/week therapy schedules. Many children w/ diagnosis can benefit from intermittent therapy over their childhood.

    Reply
    • Dr. Joni Redlich, DPT
      Dr. Joni Redlich, DPT says:

      I like the message of a theapeutic lifestyle- a great way to comunicate what we’re asking parents to integrate into their already so busy schedules.

      Reply
  2. Emily
    Emily says:

    I like the message of a theapeutic lifestyle- a great way to comunicate what we’re asking parents to integrate into their already so busy schedules.

    Reply

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