For Parents, Generally SpeechyThings, Guest Blogs

One Mom’s Perspective on Her Son’s Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapy Journey

Hello, friends! I’m really excited to share this post with you. I first met Taylor when we worked together at Starbucks about a million years ago. She is just one of the sweetest, hardest working people I know. I have loved watching her blossom into the most amazing mama to her son, Dylan. Their bond is so special and she is an incredible advocate for him. I asked if she would be interested in sharing some of their journey with my readers and I was thrilled when she accepted! I hope you enjoy learning from Taylor and Dylan in this “Q&A style” post as much as I have! Just look at how precious they are!

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Tell us about your adorable son, Dylan! 

Dylan is a dinosaur-loving, truck obsessed little boy who loves being social and always has a smile on his face! Dylan has Cerebral Palsy, but that’s not what defines him. He is currently receiving Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy. 

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What has Dylan’s therapy journey been like?

Dylan is a therapy veteran for sure! He started through our early intervention program when he was 3 months old. Our first sign of concern was his clenched fists. Occupational and play therapy came first, Physical Therapy was added around 9 months old when the gross motor milestones were not being met on time. I had a bit of a difficult time getting speech services started, but once we finally did at 2 years old Dylan’s language skills really developed. Once we switched from Early Intervention services to private therapy clinics we saw a lot more progress. Dylan does much better in a clinical setting vs. home. I also wanted the ability to keep home and therapy separate if we wanted to.

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What was the evaluation process like for you and Dylan?

Evaluation processes have all been fairly positive for us so far. If Dylan is not comfortable doing something that he is capable of the therapist will usually rely on feedback from me. There have been instances where we needed to adapt or modify an assessment or the way something was asked, and that has always been accommodated.

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How have the therapists involved you in Dylan’s care?

I have always been 100% hands-on! Sorry to some of his therapists sometimes… but they have all been wonderful in allowing me to be just as involved as I choose… which works well. Dylan is the type of kid who loves all the distractions and attention. I have learned so many valuable techniques and tools from his therapists throughout the last few years. Together we come up with goals for Dylan, assess his needs, and all work together as a team to help him reach his best.

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Tell us a little about the homework/home-programming you’ve been
given. Is it manageable for you and Dylan?

Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I feel like there is an endless list of ‘homework’ things for us. And sometimes it is overwhelming to hear at the end of each visit (we have 3 therapy appointments a week currently) “Okay let’s work on A. B. C…” and the list just keeps growing. You want to still have time to play, eat dinner, just hangout too so it’s important to be mindful of that balance. 

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What are some things your therapists have done or said that you found
most helpful as a parent?

The most helpful things have been when the therapists provided us with resources we needed within the community, or recommendations for things within the community. Alternative therapy techniques, thinking outside the box, getting creative with different activities and exercises. I love when his therapists seem knowledgeable and take an interest beyond just their schooling expertise. For example, when his PT knows about an awesome orthotist, or his SLP has a connection with someone from Tobii Dynavox. 

Another thing I always appreciate is when his therapists recognize that our therapies will often cross-over and usually can benefit greatly from incorporating speech/language skills into PT, or working on OT during Speech, etc. 

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What are some things your therapists have done or said that you found
the least helpful as a parent? 

The least helpful thing is when we are working on an activity that Dylan is having trouble being successful. I think it is important for him to at least FEEL like he has a chance at being successful, or his motivation is lacking. Sometimes his therapist may have an awesome agenda of things to work on that session, but they may all go out the window if he is not feeling it, and it is important to us for them to be adaptable in that sense. Or sometimes just go back to the basics.

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What do you wish Dylan’s therapists did more of?

I wish Dylan’s therapists did more of an assessment of his feelings/mood on each particular day. Some days, Dylan may be ready to jump right into therapy whereas other days he may need time to warm up.

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What do you wish Dylan’s therapists would do less of?

I wish Dylan’s therapists did less verbal cueing sometimes. Because I know when he is asked to do something it can take a moment for his brain to develop that message and send it out to follow through. I swear I can see the wheels turning on this kid. But his concentration can easily be thrown off, and that message won’t go all the way through.

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What do you wish Dylan’s therapists knew?

That I consider all of his therapists to be an extension of our family. They are essential in our care team and I value their input.

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What has made the biggest impact for you and Dylan?

The biggest impact for Dylan and I was unlocking the world of communication! Dylan may be non-verbal, but he listens and knows everything you are saying to him. I always knew he was aware of his environment, but having language and communication literally opened up a new world for Dylan, while getting to show off how smart he is. Having a speech therapist who believed in his abilities 100% as much as I did was crucial.

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What are you hopes, dreams, and fears for Dylan?

My hope is that Dylan will always love himself exactly as he is. My dream is that the world will accept him exactly as he is. My fear is that we may not have the accommodations we need. 

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Is there anything else you want to tell this awesome community of
therapists (mostly SLPs)?

That sometimes sessions may not go how you planned them to at all but that’s okay! Obviously every kid is different but that same kid may be slightly different each session and have different needs one day that they did not last time. I also struggle when sessions do not go as planned, but seeing the therapist seamlessly carry on gives me the ability to hold more grace myself. All of our therapists are crucial, but a speech therapist is the one who helps a child say Mama or Dada the first time or to articulate their feelings, or just to let them know they are heard. Those things to me are more important than any physical milestone he could achieve. 

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From Lindsey: PLEASE feel free to share this post! It’s a celebration of this sweet family and our field. If you’d like to check out more “Speechy Things” you can find me on Instagram or sign up to receive my emails and freebies!

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