By Kylie Martin
The therapist/parent/child relationship and journey is an interesting one.
One party is perceived as the “authority” and the other as the ones “needing help”.
But once you step into the journey, you quickly realise that we are all just people, trying to help each other find the best path forward in this journey of life.
We spend an intense period of time, journeying through intense things together as therapist/client. In any other circumstance, this would probably be enough for the life-long bonds of friendship to form. But for most of us, this is a journey that eventually comes and we rarely get share the heart parts of the journey.
So here’s what we wished we could tell you:
1. We see the effort you make
This morning I had to go to a doctors appointment. I only have to go to this specialist once a year for check up, but it’s a logistical event. Getting myself organised on time, negotiating the traffic and roadworks into the city centre to get there, finding a park (there are never any parks- stressful!!!!) and then actually walking in on time with a smile on my face after all of that.
You do this every week. Not just for one appointment but sometimes 2 or 3 appointments. Speech, OT, Physio the list goes on doesn’t it! We appreciate that you make the effort, we appreciate you arrive most times with a smile and we get that sometimes, some days, you just can’t do it…..
2. Home-work doesn’t have to be hard-work
We know that sometime when we hand you the homework book at the end of the session you secretly say in your head, “I don’t know how I’m going to find the time to do that this week”. We get that life is busy and we get that sometimes you tell us little lies at the next session about how you went with the homework 🙊 it’s ok. We get it!
Research shows us that 5-16 minutes of practice per day is ideal to consolidate new learning and skills but you don’t have to find extra time in your day to do this!!
If you’re having trouble finding time, think about ways you can use time you already have. Eg While you are driving in the car, you could say 5 words that start with your target sound every time you stop at a red light. If you are practicing pronouns, talk about the people you see as you drive by. Perhaps you could work on following instructions at bath time or talk about sequences at meal times.
Take the idea”your speechie is working on and adapt into into your timetable or ask your speechie, how you can work this into every day life.
3. We stay awake at night thinking about how to help your child
I got a bill from my lawyer this week. He charged me $34 for sending me one email! I admit I had the thought “Wow what if I did that!!” I have never met a speech pathologist who is in it for the money. Every speech pathologist I have employed or talked to in my 17 year career has been 100% dedicated to your child and your family. Many speech pathologist take calls, respond to emails, write letters, liaise with your child’s teachers, therapists and support workers outside of your allocated session time without passing the full cost (or any cost) of that time on to you. We care.
We worry about what is going on with your child when we are at home. We are continually thinking about what else we could do to help.
We have those lightbulb moments that change everything for you and your child in the shower or the toilet or driving in the car to the supermarket. This is more than a career for many of us, it’s our calling.
4. We are not the experts
Yes, we may have a certificate on the wall, but we are not the expert on your child and family-you are! I recently read some research showing that one of the big factors for a child doing well in therapy is that the family is doing well generally.
We might recommend a therapy schedule that is just too intense for you at this point in time…. tell your therapist!
We might have set homework that your child really struggles with and finds boring and it just ended up and a great big fight every day….. tell your therapist.
We might have explained things to you in the session and you understood at the time but when you went home to share it with your partner, they couldn’t get it/you couldn’t explain it properly…. tell you therapist.
We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but we do know that what goes on behind the scenes has a big impact….. so just tell us.
5. The day you finish therapy is a happy/sad day for us
Speech pathology is one of the most challenging and the rewarding jobs I can think of and I am grateful to my mum for suggesting I give it a go. Some of your stories are heart breaking, and it is a true privilege for us to walk this journey with you- thank you for choosing us.
We laugh with you, we cry with you. We say “awwwww” at the adorable moments with you. We celebrate the steps forward with you and we get frustrated at the slow progress with you too.
You become part of our rhythm, our routine and our every day. When that comes to an end we take such pride and joy that we have done our job but what has become our normal is no longer.
No more milestones shared, no more laughs together, no more high-fives or happy smiles. But we know you will do well. That’s what every speech pathologist wants you to know…. keep going and you will do well, we believe in you.
Kylie Martin is a speech pathologist at Chatter-boxes Speech Pathology Services. For advice or information on speech and language development, play, feeding or social communication visit www.chatter-boxes.com.au