Special Needs Parenting: Permission To Take a Vacation From Therapy

Claire Smyth by Claire Smyth Additional Needs

Claire Smyth

Claire Smyth

Physical, occupational and speech therapy cheers you and your child on each week. You believe that there is an end in sight.

Therapy – sure we’ll get through therapy and ‘fix’ all we need to and we’ll be done forever!

After the first year is when you might start to grow a bit weary.

Adaptive equipment discussions start to happen… standers, wheelchairs, gait trainers.

Your mind swirls with uncertainty about what all this means for your child’s future.

Yet you trudge on piling on more and more therapies with the hopes that all of it will make a significant difference.

You might even have a therapist or two who detects the start of your exhaustion trudging to therapy after therapy with your child and pulls you quietly aside to confide in you that there will come a point where therapy will no longer be needed… not because your child won’t benefit from it, but because they’ll reach a time when they feel your child doesn’t have the potential to make any further gains.

This inevitably causes a sharp pain to hit right in the center of your heart, and make you question if your ears really heard what you were just told.

In defiance against the odds set before you that more can’t be done you seek out even more therapies.

This time out of pocket expensive therapies that are deemed “alternative” and something that your insurance company would never dream of considering.

Yet your willingness to push through forces you to create online fundraising accounts, beg any foundation and charity that you can find by doing extensive online searches and consulting with other special needs families in the community.

Before you know it you’ve lined up a therapy for each day of the week and on some days you’re doubling up on therapies.

You throw in a handful of, “intensive therapies”, that are longer and more time consuming.

You’re now travelling sometimes out of state even for camps and therapy sessions.

Until one morning you wake up and hit that special needs parenting brick wall.

The wall that wall that says I can do no more.

Maybe financially you’ve come to a dead end, that happens more times than not.

Maybe you feel like you are short-changing your typical child by devoting every waking moment to improving the life of the child that depends upon you for all daily living needs.

Or maybe you just realize that your battery is low and you are just plain tired.

And so you have this monumental moment of saying you’re done with therapy.

Now, this isn’t to be confused with permanently giving up on your child’s therapy.

This is just a point where you say – I want to have a normal summer with normal activities with zero therapy.

A time for you to bond as a family, go to the park, take walks – a big stretch… take a well-deserved family vacation - the freedom to just exist without all these extra appointments.

You might twinge in the beginning with that little voice in the back of your head that says, my child won’t get better unless we continue on at this pace – the guilt factor that gives us that fierce parental drive to keep going the distance at all costs – even if that is our mental sanity and ignoring all signs of physical exhaustion.

But then the other voice says it’s going to be okay, you’ve gained so much knowledge through the years that you can do a lot of therapy yourself for the time being while you take a little break.

And it’s important to recognize that if you are feeling you need a break – your child is likely too.

We’re balancing a fine line of therapies with offering our children a real childhood at the same time.

Give yourself permission to take a break.

Therapy will still be waiting for you to return.

And you and your child will be so much more rested and refreshed to go at it again.

Be gentle with yourself and the decisions that you feel most comfortable with making.


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