When we were doing weekly PT with Finn, although I had misgivings about the value of the therapy (how much was it really helping him accomplish? Was his progress due to the therapy or his own natural inclinations?), I at least felt like we were doing everything possible to "help" Finn, and the responsibility for his progress (or lack thereof) was diluted and shared. When we decided to reduce therapy to once a month, all the responsibility came crashing down on my shoulders, or so it feels. And guess what? He's kind of stalled in his progress since we made this change in his IFSP. He hasn't had any formal PT since mid-September (we have a session scheduled for next week), and he hasn't really made any progress since then. In fact, in some ways it seems like he has regressed. He used to hold a standing position if placed in that position with something to hold onto. He used to "walk" if held up by the hands. He won't do either of those things anymore. He just flat out refuses to bear weight on his legs, and I don't know why. And I feel like it's all my fault.
True, he hasn't felt great for much of these past few weeks. There was some horrific teething going on, and now he's sick with a nasty cold. So there's that. But is that it? Is he not progressing because he doesn't feel good? Or is he not progressing because I made this drastic decision that he didn't need weekly therapy? Or worse yet - and more to the point - is he not progressing because I don't "work" with him enough?
The naked truth is that I am no natural teacher. Nor have I ever had any desire to be. I have never been the kind of parent who sets aside time on a regular basis to sit down and teach my toddlers their ABCs. I don't like structured, educational play. I don't have the patience or self-discipline to structure our time like that. Fortunately, my older kids seemed to teach themselves their ABCs and such.
And people think that God only gives "special" kids to "special" parents?! Haaa! Well, you know me - I don't even believe in God. But if there were a God, he missed the boat on this one. Because I'm no special parent by any stretch of the imagination. I can usually be found hanging onto sanity by my fingernails. Most of the time I think my kids are succeeding in spite of me, not thanks to me.
I had hoped that Finn's natural instincts and inclinations would be all that he really needs to progress. And it's probably true - I have no doubt that even without any therapy whatsoever, eventually he would walk and run and climb and everything else. Maybe it would take him longer. Maybe therapy helps them achieve milestones and goals sooner than they would without therapy. I don't know. There's no way to know. The fact of the matter is that there are kids who get tons of therapy and yet they still do not walk until past the age of two, or do not talk until they're five or six. And there are kids who receive less therapy who progress quicker. And there's all kinds of in-between. And no matter what Finn achieves - with or without therapy - I will never be able to know how it would have been different had we chosen a different protocol.
One of the main reasons I felt so strongly about reducing services was because I didn't want his babyhood and childhood to be filled with therapy. I didn't - and still don't - want him to look back and remember his childhood as an endless series of therapy appointments. I didn't - and don't - want him to ever feel like he is seen as a set of problems that needs to be fixed. And I don't want our other kids to view him that way either.
But, in choosing to reduce services, I took on the full responsibility for Finn's progress, and now I feel like I'm failing him. Am I supposed to set aside an allotted time every day to "therapize" Finn? Because I don't. Every night when I go to bed, I resolve that tomorrow will be the day that I get down to business. And every night, I also realize that the day got away from me, and I let it. And what do I do when he completely resists? Do I force him to do things he doesn't want to do and ignore the tears in the name of progress? How can I motivate him to want to do these things? Or do I just let him be, let him enjoy a mostly therapy-free childhood and accept that it's going to take him longer to meet milestones, and just enjoy the slower ride?
I'm kind of at a loss right now. These thoughts, these feelings of failure, have been eating at me. And I have this horrible fear that Eun, our PT, is going to come over next week and go "Aha! You can't do this on your own! See what a terrible job you're doing with him?"
Ack. No easy answers.