Monday, July 29, 2013

Therapy Daze...

According to the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, "therapy" (n) is: a treatment intended to cure or alleviate an illness or injury, whether physical or mental.

Well let me tell you, I have a personal vendetta with therapy. Mondays just so happen to be one of our busiest therapy days, and quite frankly it's my least favorite. The reason being because I was never going to be "that mom".

Before I had James David, and even early into his little life, I had set very high (and what I had presumed at the time were very reasonable) expectations for myself as a mother. I would never be the mom that let her child...:
  • in front of the TV.
  • ... live off of hotdogs and mac 'n' cheese (He would love fruits and veggies :))
  • ...throw temper-tantrums in public.
  •  ...throw temper-tantrums period.
  •  ...praise him for ordinary things
  • ... be a spoiled brat.
I thought these would be pretty simple to accomplish with a little determination, a firm hand, and a never wavering routine. We would all smile. My house would be picturesque. James David would come up, ask for some more carrot sticks, and go happily back to his playing. In my mind, just because he couldn't walk these would be so easy to accomplish.What I never saw coming was... Sensory Processing Disorder. 

As an infant the slightest noise sent him into hysterics. Then he started gagging and refusing "Stage 3" baby foods. He could tolerate nothing with texture. He became terrified of all the other loud and personally invasive toddling monsters his age. I had no idea what was happening to us, but we slowly became boxed in, and I became the mother I swore I would never be. 

I started doing anything I could to distract him while I shoved food into his mouth. Elmo became my new bestfriend. Then I found things he would eat on his own! They weren't vegetables... Those are crunchy and quite possibly the spawn of Satan, according to my two year old. So now his diet is filled with fillers, artificial flavorings, dyes, and God knows what else... But he's not starving. 

We now can go out in public, but we avoid direct one-on-one contact with unfamiliar toddlers (especially those that take off with his wheelchair). We avoid all loud noises, and work through the meltdowns of then inescapable thunder. He next to never gets spankings, and well time-out really just results an outfit change and a scrub for the carpet (predigested hotdog is next to impossible to get out). But what does any of this have to do with my disdain for therapies???

Physical Therapy (PT) is pretty simple: Push James David as fast and as hard as he'll go, and then push him a little further (pray he doesn't throw up). I can do that.

Occupational Therapy (OT): Taught James David to play with his food... Good that he'll now touch it, unfortunately that's all he'll do with it. We learned that brushing his arms and leg (yes like a cat) helps with his meltdowns (good, but not the "dry it up" I was raised with). I don't want my son to be coddled. 

Behavioral Therapy: Basically told us to ignore our son's outbursts. If he is being bad, of course punish him, but then be done with it. Don't give him attention for his meltdowns. Don't help him calm down. Let him work it out on his own so that he's not using it as a source of attention. 

Feeding Therapy: We give James David four-on-one undivided attention. Praising him every single stinkin time he kisses a spoon that has a new food on it. If he takes a bite of his mac n cheese, everyone has to clap. We excessively praise him for doing the slightest new thing because what two year old doesn't want you to clap for him in the specific way he told you to clap (hands high above your head)?  This is my least favorite of his therapies. 

Having James David has turned not only my whole life around, but it has also changed my expectations for my personal values. I have to look at my son and not be disappointed in myself as a mother, but realize that I am doing the best I can with what I have right now. If that means letting him scream through the supermarket while I ignore the heck out of him, so be it. If I have to clap every single time he takes a bite so that he will actually learn to eat, so be it (I'm still learning to be ok with this one...) And if I have to clean up puke 3 times a day, so that maybe he will grow up learning right from wrong, so be it. Its not my dream, but it's my life. My reality. 

Romans 5:3-4
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.