Therpaist Chemistry is Everything

February 12, 2013

Sam the Anti-Preemie having fun in the tub
As Sam and I start down the road of Autism Spectrum Therapy, we are getting to know a bunch of different therapists and therapy types. We have been very lucky so far with who we have been paired with - except for one. So, I did what any mama bear mom should do, I gutted up and fired the therapist I didn't like.

Firing her was not easy. I mean, this was a trained professional who had my son's best interests at heart. She wasn't hurting him or abusing him, but I just didn't like the way she talked to him or the way she made everything about Autism. This was an important therapist in the Sam puzzle too. This was his speech therapist. This was the same speech therapist that had been watching Sam since he was born. This was the person I wanted to trust and like, because she had history with Sam.

But I did not trust or like her. Every time she spoke to Sam, I felt like she was yelling at him. The things she told me to change in how I spoke to Sam didn't help his language development, but possible set it further back. At the start of each appointment, she didn't take the time to ask me if there was anything new; she just dove right in like the past week didn't count or matter. There was also the fact that when I did try to provide anecdotes, she would cut me off and point out that everything I was saying just proved that Sam was Autistic.

Well, when we got the official PDD-NOS diagnosis, I found myself raging just a little bit inside. All this time, all this angst, and she had the diagnosis wrong! As our holiday break in Lake Tahoe drew to a close, and Sam's next speech therapy appointment loomed, I found myself getting angrier and angrier. The day before his appointment, I realized, that this relationship wasn't healthy for me.

So I ended it.

Little did I know, this relationship was also bad for Sam. Since firing his speech therapist, I have found a new person to work with. The moment Sam saw her, he walked up to her and took her hand. (In the three months working with the other person, Sam never touched her). As the session began, I watched how this new therapist approached Sam with warmth and understanding. She treated him like an individual and adjusted her methods to work with him. Then, at the end of the session, she took five minutes, wrote up goals for the week and gave me homework to take home.

It was so simple, a plan of action, goals and steps to meet those goals. I walked out of there feeling like Sam and I had been set up for success.

The day after Sam's first session, I was following her homework plan and the most amazing thing happened. I asked Sam if he wanted a snack, and as opposed to just echoing my question, Sam looked me in the eye and said "Yes". If was the first time in his two-plus years that the word "Yes" left Sam's lips. Since then, he is using "Yes" and "No" all the time. The look of relief on Sam's face when he realizes that we understand what he wants is just perfect.

We have had just two sessions with this new therapist, but let me tell you, Sam's language development has just leaped forward. His echoing is at an all time low, he is initiating games and activities, and just this morning, he looked at something he wasn't sure about pointed his finger and said "What's that?". Another first and another huge milestone for Mr. Sam.

Firing that therapist was the best thing I have done in a long time - and I know that if I don't think the therapist or therapy is a right fit for Sam to speak up and trsut my gut.


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