There's a beautiful expression for when a person finds a place that comforts them. The phrase is "home away from home."
For you, my dear (and me too) one of our "homes away from home" is Breakthrough Pediatric Therapy, your Occupational Therapy practice. Where we are blessed to see "Miss Connie" every week. Let me explain...
It all started when we received your diagnosis. Daddy and I were confused about this path we found ourselves wandering on. We really didn't know where to even start. We were given a binder "The First 100 days of Autism" (not exactly light reading) and were suggested to start by finding a good pediatrician, OT and speech therapist. "Early intervention" is key, we heard this a lot! What we have learned is that along with early intervention, "patience" is just as critical...
Now where was I, oh yes...I had mentioned OT to our pediatrician (at the time) and her response was "I would support you if that's what you'd like to do."
Um. Huh? If that's what "we want to do???"
That's when we realized, that one of the more challenging aspects of raising you was a need to find a "quarterback" or someone who could offer us at least some guidance until we were well versed to navigate the path on our own!
We did some research (a lot of research) and found a great Pediatric OT in our area. (Side note: there is a need for way more pediatric OT's in general.)
I'll never forget our first evaluation. Still a bit overwhelmed and unclear how all this was suppose to help you, I filled out the longest questionnaire of my life! It started out having me list your strengths and all the things you loved! No problem, easy peasy! But then...it asked to list what I felt you needed help with. As the list grew longer I hate to even admit it, but my eyes started to fill with tears.
Why the tears? I don't know. Maybe I was just sad for your struggles. Sad we needed help. Maybe more than anything, I was scared of the unknown.
The therapist sat next to me seemingly noticing my demeanor and said "Let's start here, would you mind telling me about some of Addie's strengths?" I started to speak and quickly my mood changed to feeling much lighter and more positive. I could rave on all afternoon about your strengths my love. You are amazing! That is a fact!
(I see what you did there...Well played therapist)
She looked at me and said "Addie's really smart! We will never change that about her! We are only here to help and encourage her along the way where she needs it!"
And that they have done my sweet girl.
We have been blessed with the BEST OT's (in my opinion). We've researched, built relationships...then in true Menzo fashion - moved across country, and then repeated this process again.
Occupational therapists study human growth and development and a person’s interaction with the environment through our daily life and activities. They are experts if you will in the social, emotional, and physiological effects of illness and injury.
This knowledge they possess Addie, helps them help both you, and me too! This is where I learned all about "vestibular" and "proprioceptive" senses! Never thought I'd ever really have a need to comprehend the depth of these senses. I mean, it's not exactly coffee talk...unless maybe you're out with me :) Lol!
But here we are, and I have a clearer picture of things in our lives just simply because of this knowledge!
They are my "Autism Whisperers" (yes, I totally made that reference up...)
They help with...
Are you ready for this, its intense?
Daily living skills, such as potty training, dressing, brushing teeth, and other grooming skills.
Fine motor skills required for holding objects while handwriting or cutting with scissors.
Gross motor skills used for walking, climbing stairs, or riding a bike.
Sitting, posture, or perceptual skills, such as telling the differences between colors, shapes, and sizes.
Awareness of his or her body and its relation to others.
Visual skills for reading and writing.
Sensory integration (you know those headphones we're always trying to get you to wear?!)
Play, coping, self-help, problem solving, communication, and social skills.
Phew! That's a lot!
But by working on these skills during occupational therapy, you will...
Develop peer and adult relationships, learn how to focus on tasks, learn how to delay gratification, express feelings in more appropriate ways and the list goes on, and on, and on!
Did you have any idea they did ALL that! I told you the list was extensive!
So yes, "home away from home" that's our OT.
Do you remember that path I said we were wandering down? We were on a mission to find people that maybe had a flash light to help light the way.
Occupational therapists happily work as part of a "team" that includes parents, siblings, teachers, and other professionals.
This is their life's work and they chose to take this journey with us! They are OUR team players!
As for your OT-Miss Connie, she has been a beautiful blessing to us. I'm not sure if we'll ever be able to really show our gratitude and appreciation for all that she does! She's opened our eyes a little more to your world and brightened that path we've been wandering along.
She brought light Addie! And for that we are truly forever grateful!
Keep working hard baby girl! I love you!
One Team, One Dream!