Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fed Up With Early Intervention

Finn has in-home speech therapy every Wednesday morning at 9:00. Every week his SLP is late - anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes late. Today? Well, today she just didn't show up at all. I waited. And waited. And waited. And posted my frustration on Facebook. And waited some more. All the while growing more and more peeved. It's not as if I don't have other things to do. And I plan things around Finn's therapy. So when she's late, it throws all my planning off, which is frustrating to say the least.

So, in the end, she never showed up this morning. I tried calling her at about 20 to 10, but only got her voice mail, and didn't leave a message. By the time it was a quarter to 10 and she was 45 minutes late, I started thinking, "Well, what if she shows up now? I just won't answer the door!" But she never showed. At a few minutes past 10, I called her number again, leaving a message telling her that I wasn't sure what happened and asking her to call me.

She finally called me back at a little after 6:00 this evening. Know what she said? She said that she had put us down for Thursday mornings from now on. Problem is, she never discussed this with me! So if I had never called her and left a message, would she have just shown up tomorrow morning? I have no idea. Apparently she can't fit us in on Wednesday mornings anymore - something to do with the school year starting . . . I don't know. What does this mean? Have we been displaced by another of her clients? Are we not as important, so we just get booted from the Wednesday morning time slot with no discussion? I have no idea.

And I can't do Thursday mornings. Or rather, I won't. Lilah, my three-going-on-four-year-old, just started attending preschool three mornings a week, which means that Tuesdays and Thursdays are the only days now that I have her home with me. We already do OT on Tuesdays, which means those are mornings that we can't go to the park or do other fun things. In another year, she'll be in kindergarten five days a week, and I'll be damned if I'm going to use up all the days I have left with her doing therapy with Finn - therapy that I'm not even convinced is having any impact on him.

So I called Rebecca back and told her that Thursdays will not work for us, that I need either a Monday morning slot or a Friday morning slot. We'll see where that goes.

The thing is, she's supposed to be THE BEST. She is highly regarded as a SLP. And she does have a great rapport with Finn (which is not to say that I believe he's actually getting a whole lot - or anything - out of ST). I like her as a person. She's good with my kid. And she comes to my house (when she shows up), and I guess she's one of the only SLPs who does in-home therapy in our area. I'm not inclined to dump her and start over with someone else at this point - especially since Regional Center is only covering ST for us through October and then we have to go through our health insurance which will likely make us go across town for ST, which I will not do, so effectively I expect we'll be done with ST come November, until Finn turns 3 anyway and is transitioned to the school district.

Blah. I'm just so fed up with the whole thing - Early Intervention as a whole. If you believe that your kid is making some huge gains as a direct result of EI, then more power to you. But looking back on two years of this crap now, I don't feel that it's been an overall positive experience for us. The benefits - whatever they are - certainly have not outweighed the negatives.

I remember being in the NICU with Finn when somebody first came and talked to me about Early Intervention. I was told that he needed to start therapy as soon as possible, and I remember being bewildered and saying, "As a newborn? He needs therapy as a newborn?" The woman - I guess a social worker from Regional Center - said in this no-nonsense tone, "Don't you want him to be the best he can be? Then yes, he needs to start 'baby school' as soon as possible." That's what they do. They sell it to you like that, playing on your fears and your guilt, and you're led to believe that if you're a good parent, if you want what's best for your child, this is what you'll do: you'll put him in this program from birth that will attempt to normalize him. And even when it becomes a huge imposition on your time, even when your other kids are impacted, you keep going because that's what you're supposed to do, and quitting altogether is too scary because you don't want to look back and feel like you didn't do everything you could do.

Looking back, I wish I would have asked that woman: what exactly is the goal of Early Intervention? What exactly are the benefits I can expect to see? Does therapy guarantee anything for my kid?

Kevin, my thirteen-year-old asked me today, "Mom, why does Finn have therapy? You hate it. And isn't he going to learn how to do all those things anyway, just slower? What's wrong with that?" Astute kid.

Fed up.


Mel said...

I am feeling a bit renegade about therapy too at the moment. Just parts of it. I am currently refusing to 'teach' Luke how to do a hearing test, just to see if he can do better. To me they can either come up with a better test or we can wait. But the guilt police are not far away, standing in judgement of my mothering.

I find therapy beneficial, but there is a limit. More is not always more, and I think in the US there is a whole industry built around it, and it is not just for the kids any more. You are Finn's real therapist, and if you can be empowered by these professionals, go for it. But someone working with him every so often is not going to do much. What you do is what counts.

Anonymous said...

I think that you need to do what is best for your family. I was 26 when my son was born. I was a new mom and didn't have a clue as to what I was doing. Early intervention therapies were invaluable to us. We were driving all over town every day to make it to all the appointments. When the therapist would take two weeks off at Christmas I would freak out that I was not doing enough. I attended every therapy session and tried to follow through with those things at home. That became my job. If you can stimulate and provide those things without therapy and be happy, I think you should look into that. Maybe more of a consultation visit from a therapist, then actual therapy. There is no reason to be miserable and hate the therapist coming if you feel they aren't doing any good and he'd be where he is without them. Fourteen years later, I've learned that this is a very long road and you need to save your energy for what matters.

Angelle said...

I'm so sorry for your difficulties. Anyone who comes into your home should be doing it on a mutually agreed-upon (ahead of time!) schedule. That's only respectful.

As for goals, they should be yours -- and very functional/practical. What routines or activities do you need to see go better? What skills are developmentally appropriate and meet your priorities for your sweet boy?

Results? of course not guaranteed. People are not engines (turn this bolt and it goes!). There is no magical laying on of hands; Mel is right: nothing happens as a result of one hour a week. You and your family are Finn's therapists. (Your older son is so wise!) An interventionist is supposed to come up with strategies and then "coach" parents/caregivers to help Finn reach his goals. Parents do the intervention and interventionists help them do it.

Here it is: a SLP might be an expert on speech and language, but you are the expert on your baby.

I'm so frustrated that your interventionists are not making you the center of the intervention. I also feel a lot of confidence in you and Finn. I enjoy reading about your experiences.

Tara said...

Every time I feel guilty about Eon not getting enough or me not doing enough, he shows off a new skill he learned from his siblings. Not from his therapist or his mom...his siblings. They are the real therapists. His PT came today for his IFSP, and after watching him do what he does for 20 minutes on his own, declared, "Next time, I'm just going to sit on the couch and you can do your thing."
I do think she has been a big help, though. I also appreciate our speech therapist for her showing me what to do and teaching me new signs. Do what works for your WHOLE family! You're doing great!

Sweet Pea's Mommy said...

Is Kevin available for adoption? :-)

I feel your frustration with some therapists not being very "professional". I am going through an issue with one right now that I'm trying to remain calm about...but it is hard! Good luck!

Susan Carson said...

I have found that every new milestone Anthony has reached he just did on his own when he was ready, and was not something we "worked on" in therapy at all. Including: pulling to kneel, clapping, pointing, first word (In fact, I wasn't even aware he was "due" for these things so they surprised me). And the things the PT has worked diligently on for months and months he still isn't doing (getting into sitting, crawling on all fours, standing, etc). She focused for months on sitting, and he wasn't able to do it until he was over 15 months old! So go figure.

Brandie said...

I think it says a lot that she didn't bother to tell you about the schedule change. Like Finn isn't important enough to her. Goldie has private speech now and the scheduling lady tried to switch her to another therapist without telling me. It made me feel that she thought Goldie is too stupid to notice or care. Well, I busted her and she won't do it again.

Family is much more important than therapy. Finn will learn so much (good and bad) from his siblings. My dad grew up with a brother who has autism and other issues. He still resents the way his therapy intruded on their lives.

Missy said...

You know, I'm sure there are some good in-home therapists out there. I never found 'em in central Indiana. Mine were usually late and I did MORE with our daughter than they ever did in therapy. Play with bubbles? Blah, we do that daily. Crawl? Yep, been doing that on her own for awhile now. Stand? Oh, just put her against the wall & let go? We can do that. One of the therapists was so fascinated by my parents being missionaries, the entire therapy time was spent answering her questions about how they were doing.

Seriously, how do these people keep their jobs? Obviously their supervisors cannot monitor what they're doing & my complaints got nowhere.

Good luck with Finn. A loving mom beats any therapist hands down.