As parents of children with disabilities, we are used to doing many types of therapies for our children. We spend hours, days, months, and even years taking our children to multiple physical, speech, and occupational therapy appointments.
When my daughter was just a few months old we underwent an ECI evaluation. She was a premature baby and had been exposed to alcohol and drugs by her biological mother. So, we had the heads-up and were able to begin our early childhood intervention during infancy.
Getting services and therapies in place as early as possible is important. For a lot of us, by the time our child or children are 3 years old, we have put in 300 hours of therapy. It is so important not to get “therapy burnout.” This is true for the parent and the child. It is important to get started as soon as you notice delays, but it is just as important to continue for as long as the child needs the support.
An important part of preventing burnout is to keep therapy interesting.
One idea is to do the therapy session outside the house—anyway you can. This simple change is helpful in keeping the session more interesting and focused. If your child can handle the change in routine and stimulus, you can meet at the park on nice days. My daughter did better with a set routine, but doing her sessions in a different room or even on our patio helped keep her interest.
Taking family “therapy vacations” can be helpful. Even if it is just for major holidays, skip one or two therapy sessions. This was important for me to do after the birth of my third baby. We needed family bonding time. We took two weeks off from all of my daughter’s therapies. It is important to take family time—time off for a breather and to recharge.
Once your child is school age, they can get services through school, which means less after-school therapy. This will help to make things a little easier. Remember that breaks are an important part of avoiding burnout for your child and maintaining overall family health and well-being.
Learn more about how to navigate daily life.
As a parent to a child with special health care needs, we often must learn little tricks to get things done. Each month Marty shares some of the tips and tricks she has learned along the way.