When I Wonder, How Much Therapy Is Too Much Therapy for My Daughter?
I’m by no means a expert at this life. Special needs parenting is still new to me. The day we heard the diagnosis can at times feel like yesterday. When my daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, I threw myself into full gear. New words like “brain plasticity” were thrown into my vocabulary. Doctors advised me to get her into physical therapy, keep up with speech therapy, don’t forget about occupational therapy. “She needs to be doing it all,” I was told. Of course, once you find yourself knee deep in a world that revolves only around therapy, new things come up. More appointments. Before you know it, you’re committed to a full week, driving miles away from your home to attend the best therapy centers in town.
The first year flew by. I couldn’t help but notice all the therapy was showing slow results. I found myself pushing her harder, squeezing more and more therapy in. I was witnessing my daughter fall further and further behind her peers. I pushed my limits daily and in some ways, hers. The feeling of not enough hours in a day frustrated me. “How can I not being doing enough?” I would wonder. “Maybe I’m picking the wrong type of therapy.” I started to constantly question my own judgment. I started to feel as though we were missing out on opportunities to just have fun. She was missing out on her baby years. The guilt set in deep as we entered our second year of therapy. I felt sad that my daughter had such a busy life. But what was I to do? I felt no choice but to keep moving forward.
The second year gave me a better picture of how things really worked with therapy; we weren’t going to see results overnight. I began questioning myself and the path I was going down with my daughter.
What is the proper balance?
How much is too much therapy?
This weighs heavily on my shoulders still to this day. No one can tell you because every case is different. But as we went forward, I somehow began to find my footing a little. Somewhere heading into the third year, I felt my confidence grow as it was becoming easier in making proper decisions about her sessions.
I found my voice when I felt like my daughter wasn’t needing every little intervention therapy offered. I even went as far as making sure we had one day a week together to do absolutely nothing — to just wake up and stay in our jammies until noon if we wanted. I could feel a shift in my new role. I needed this shift to happen. There were so many things I couldn’t control, and finally I had control over something. It must have went to my head because I even pulled her from physical therapy for an entire summer. Of course I knew how important it was to keep her active, so we swam. All summer long as a family, we just swam. Trips to the park and walks through the neighborhood. I took a real jump of faith and put her into soccer. I held my breath at every game, but she rose to the challenge.
When you have a child with special needs, things can change. The constant shift between being balanced and out-of-balance can happen literally in an afternoon. Being in control to feeling like your losing it. It’s a constant juggling act.
It doesn’t take much for me to get lost in our world of therapy. I’m trying so hard to create a balanced life, for her and the rest of our family. I try to schedule just enough therapy. I’m trying to become more patient and accepting of small victories instead of waiting for leaps. Instead of just cramming in therapy appointments, I’m also trying to work on myself — learning how to become her biggest supporter. I’m trying to create a world of opportunity for her. I want to show her we’re learning through this journey together.