With various phases of reopening happening across the state, many Early Intervention service providers have begun moving forward with plans for in-person therapies.
With the initial closing down of EI back in March, there was a long gap in therapies, then the option of teletherapy, which was out of reach for so many families, and now we are back to getting some in-person support.
During that time, I scrambled to compensate for the therapies that he was missing. I will post later on about the activities we used, but overall it was a little overwhelming.
As a parent, you think of just about every possible outcome before making even the smallest decision. There are so many different sources of information out there regarding COVID-19 that give so many opposing views. But, with everything in mind, we are one of the few families who have pushed forward into going back to in-person therapy.
There are so many pros and cons to resuming therapy, but we found that the pros outweighed the cons. I love that Nicholas can have his little social circle back. I love that he can be WAY more engaged in his lessons now that his “friends” can actually come to the house. Marley is getting so much out of it as well!
This, of course, is not done without all of the necessary precautions in place. We have only had two sessions so far, with our awesome speech therapist, but we are currently in the process fo signing waivers for physical therapy as well.
Since we have only had two sessions, we are not experts, but I wanted to give you some insight on how it has been going, and offer a few ideas as far as how to move forward. Here are some tips we have gathered on this journey so far:
Read the waiver you are going to sign very carefully, and make sure you are aware of exactly what it is outlining.
The first waiver that I read said right at the top, that the company still recommends that you only do teletherapy at this time. This absolves them of any blame should you or your family contract the virus. This is an obvious addition, in my opinion. From the point-of-view of the provider, they need to protect themselves from the chaos that could ensue from the in-person model. I knew this would be a “continue at your own risk” type of deal.
Make sure that you have everything needed in your home so that you can adhere to the waiver. For example, if your waiver says that your therapist is going to wash their hands upon arrival, make sure you have those supplies ready to go, and your guest does not have to navigate through your house to get to these supplies.
If there are things in the waiver that you do not feel comfortable with, you might want to reconsider signing or even moving forward. For me, everything seemed really reasonable and met my overall expectations. But, I am sure the companies would not mind discussing your concerns with you.
Be respectful to your therapist by following the guidelines provided in the waiver as they are laid out.
People did not become EI therapists with the idea in mind that there would be a global pandemic in the works, completely turning their career upside down. So now, they are in a position where they are back out into the field before this thing is “over” officially, putting themselves at risk.
If their waiver says that the adult supervising has to wear a mask, please show them the respect they deserve by having one ready. Don’t make them have to ask you. I know, it feels weird wearing a mask in your own home, but it is only for a half-hour, and only increases the positive mutual respect you have (hopefully) been building with your child’s support team. Don’t be “that house” the therapist dreads going to. It might result in a less-enthusiastic lesson. For me, it is all about quality over quantity, which is why scheduling your therapies at just the right time of day can be so tough.
If possible, have your session outside! Make sure you still bring some stuff to do!
As a part of the waiver that I signed, I would have to provide the toys used in the session. This is a great touch because germs can easily be spread when toys are brought by a therapist from home to home. This protects both us and the providers.
Today’s speech therapy happened outside today, and it was awesome! Here are some pictures of our setup.
I knew that naptime was going to be right after the therapy today, and I wanted my kids to get outside before it became way too hot, so at the last second, I dragged a bunch of stuff out of the garage and into the side yard so that we could have our session outside. We have had a session outside in the past before all of this stuff happened, but being stuck at home most of the time really makes you want to prioritize getting out into nature for at least a good chunk of the day.
Let me talk about what you see in the pictures.
There are two scraps of pallet wood that I had just washed down with plans of painting them black for the garage gym we hope to put together. If there is some kind of surface that my very cautious boy can feel safe climbing on, he will be easily encouraged to do so. That was my thought with that.
I brought out a puzzle with farm animals on there because he is SO into doing knob puzzles right now, and this one is a little challenging for him, so he has been enjoying trying to do it. There are SO MANY things to practice with a puzzle like this in regards to speech!
- animal names
- animal sounds
- phrases like “try again” and “almost done”
- “Where does it go?”
Our therapist also held up two different pieces and asked Nicholas to identify a certain animal between the two choices, which I thought was a really nice strategy.
The “Little Blue Truck” series is a favorite of Nicholas’, so I brought that out just in case there was not enough to fill the time.
There are also some bristle blocks there so that he can do some building on that tricky surface without getting discouraged by frequently knocking down his creations. The blanket was for the therapist to sit on so that she was comfortable.
I brought out the kid bag chairs and wagon to help keep Marley occupied. She LOVES the therapy sessions, but can sometimes get in the way, so since she is in a climbing phase I thought she might like climbing into the chairs or the wagon. I also brought out the bubble stick you see to try and keep Marley occupied, but at the last second opted out of it because of the masks and the fact that it would totally distract Nicholas if Marley and I were off doing something else.
After Nicholas was all done with using his provided toys, he marched off to his favorite little hill in front of our house. Instead of seeing this as a distraction, the therapist used this as a learning opportunity. They were able to practice words like “grass”, “car”, “truck”, “tree” and basically everything else they saw while they walked around. I thought that was really awesome! Instead of trying to make Nicholas come back to the little play area, she let him lead the way while also, teaching. Super cool!
Respect the social distancing rules while the therapist is there.
The therapist is not only at their job when they are at your house, but also a guest in your home. No matter how you feel about it, there is no need to put someone in the position to have to speak up about it if it is already implied that you read the waiver when you signed it.
So, in my opinion, resuming in-person therapy has been a positive experience so far. I would highly recommend it as long as you are doing it with all the necessary precautions in place!
Marley got a hold of my phone and did one of those fast-motion recordings of the chaos. How I missed her doing this, I will never be sure. Here is her video art for your enjoyment.
Hopefully, this helps you make your decision as far as how to move forward. Please share with me in the comments how your in-person therapies have gone so far! Or if you have signed up yet!
Remember, your child is Limitless, no matter their diagnosis.