With the ever-growing stay-at-home orders and quarantines related to COVID-19, life is weird right now. Our schedules are in limbo, our children’s lives have moved online, and as parents of kiddos with disabilities who already take on so much in a typical day, we’re now acting as our child’s teacher, nurse, therapist, and more, all on top of being Mom or Dad and everything else we usually do on a daily basis. We already had too much on our plates without a global pandemic: to say we’re stressed out doesn’t even begin to describe how chaotic our lives feel now.
Fortunately, therapy help is available by way of teletherapy or telecoaching. I know what you’re going to say, “But I still have to do the hands-on work during these sessions. I’m still acting as my child’s therapist.”
Yes, that’s true. With teletherapy, you will be an active participant in your child’s session. But, that’s just one part of it. There’s so much you can gain from teletherapy that you may not have considered. Simply stated, teletherapy can make life a little bit easier when everything else seems really difficult.
On top of providing specific things to work on, a little structure in your day at home, and some familiarity if you’re able to work with your regular therapist, teletherapy gives you hands-on coaching in a way you’ve never experienced. It allows your therapist to look inside your daily life and pass along tips to help you handle your child through any type of activity or use objects or toys in a way you might not have considered before. Have a vibration plate that you can’t seem to incorporate into your daily routine? You can focus an entire session on that. Struggling to find something your child can hold on for sit-to-stands or a toy to motivate your child to activate their pincer grasp? Your therapist can help with that, too!
Most parents aren’t therapists and don’t need to be. Don’t worry if you don’t feel confident or your child sometimes struggles to work with you: your therapist has lots of experience coaching others and will help you work around any challenges you’re facing. He or she is there to be your guide, not critique you! And, when we’re able to return to our regular routines once the dust settles, your new skills can only help your child continue to progress.
1. Complete all necessary paperwork or email your therapist with goals, equipment you have at home, and your kiddo’s favorite toys at home. You might even consider hiding some toys away so they’re extra motivating when the time comes for your appointment.
2. Set up a therapy space in a quiet area of your home. I like to use a laptop for the session since it’s sturdier and easier prop up to capture the room on video. If possible, try to occupy siblings or pets elsewhere at home if they’re a distraction for your child.
3. When it comes time for your session, start by giving a recap of the past week, some things you’ve been working on or hope to work on at home and areas that you’ve struggled with to help the therapist tailor the session.
4. Take the session slowly and ask lots of questions. You may not cover as many things as you would in an in-person session, and that’s ok! Quality is much more important than quantity when it comes to teletherapy.
At the end, ask for ONE thing to focus on in the coming week. Even better, ask how you can incorporate that one thing into your daily routine. You’ve got enough to do while at home and there is no need to try and take on tons of extra therapy at home.
Above all else, remember this is all temporary and we’ll be back to regular therapy soon. Give yourself some grace during these crazy times, Moms and Dads. You’re doing amazing work at home and your child will continue to thrive because of you.