If you are a parent of a child with any disability, you know your child’s life has become your life. From the moment you wake up to the time you fall back asleep, you are thinking and worrying about your child. You are continually researching and attending therapy programs you have heard that can help your child. Your family time is limited to drive through, or special meals that are extremely costly! You are doing and redoing your budget because you forgot to add the new recommended therapy technique that your child’s specialist feels is a technique that will deliver results.
Here is the truth, you don’t have to do it all! You know you it might be time to start prioritizing when you walk into a building, exhausted and then find out whoops, you are at the wrong therapy clinic! Something needs to give when you are constantly changing your therapy dates and times because Johnny has to squeeze more time for another program within a 24-hour day. You know you need a break when you walk into your child’s therapy on a day that your child is not scheduled for treatment! If you cannot handle your current schedule, then your child cannot handle it either!If you feel stressed out to the point where you keep spinning your wheels, it is time to prioritize.
Your family and health are important, therefore making them a priority by making changes. Acknowledge to yourself and your family that you cannot do it all, regardless of your child’s needs. Carrying on with limited time to breathe is not healthy for you or child. Packing on more therapy with limited time to spend with your child, family, and friends is not fair to anyone. Just because your child has a special need does not mean you should carry the load all by yourself. Let go of the guilt and take charge of your life. Take time to simplify your schedule. Create a structure,
- Hold a monthly discussion about schedules: Discuss your schedule with important family members and prioritize what to keep and what put off for next month.
- Review the recommended treatments with your family: Regardless of what therapy is recommended, it is your choice on how you schedule it and if you should schedule it.
- Create a maximum and a minimum therapy time table: Before starting any therapy program, discuss with your significant other (s) the maximum time and minimum time you are willing to commit to attending the programs. Be honest with the clinicians (ABA, Speech, OT, Physical, etc.) about your times. Don’t commit out of guilt or pressure. If you can’t do it, you just can’t do it!
- Make a timeline plan: If you are not able to fit the recommended therapy into your current schedule, that is okay, maybe in another three months or six months you will be able to add another session or therapy.
- Prioritize your therapy: What is the most critical need for your child at present?
- Give yourself permission to cut back or take a break: Cutting back allows you time to incorporate things and streamline treatment or learn simple techniques that you can use daily with your child.
- Learn to Say NO! You can say no even if professionals feel your child needs more hours of treatment. Do the best you can, given your income and time.
- Ask for Help! Allow others into your world, train friends to step in and support you so you can take a much-needed break.
- Look for respite support: Find cheap affordable respite care through your neighborhood or parent programs.
Uduak (Udie) Osom holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from San Jose State University. Udie has served students of all ability levels from preschool through grade 12, for over 20 years. She is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. She is the owner/director of Innovative Therapy Services, a pediatric speech, language and social skills clinic in Santa Clara, CA. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.