First and foremost, I'm not a therapist! Not even close. But I am a mom of a child that has really BIG feelings, lots of emotions and some sensory challenges which have taken us on a journey through play therapy and now occupational therapy.
As women, we don't talk about these things. We don't want others to know our struggles and we don't like our dirty laundry aired. But I'm here to break that mold and share a little bit about our journey in the hopes that it brings encouragement to a mama who needs it, hope for a family who is in the same boat and just general awareness for outsiders looking in.
Here's part one our story + a few tips I've learned along the way!
Meet Anderson, my spunky seven year old!
Kindergarten was hard! Spacial awareness, new routines, learning how to be a good friend - it was a lot for this little guy to take in. I found myself always apologizing to other parents for anything my little guy said or did in the event their child was on the receiving end of his actions.
Thankfully, we had an excellent Kinder teacher who was willing to talk to and work with us to get Anderson the help and resources needed to work through some of these challenges.
We started play therapy Spring 2022 and I knew nothing about it other than I was told to "trust the process." Just to get our foot in the door, I was open to any appointment they had, even if it meant taking him in and out of school for his sessions. Tip #1 - waitlists are long! Be flexible with your schedule and open to inopportune times just to get the process started!
I remember the weight of that very first session. The therapist told me I could wait in the waiting room and my heart sank as I watched my then six year old follow a stranger down a hallway, unsure of how he would emerge an hour later. Did he know why he was there? Did he feel like this was a punishment? What's he doing in there? Tip #2 - always accompany your child in the room during a session! Learn from my mistake! I didn't know any better and did what I was told but I should have followed my instinct and been with him in the room at each visit. Thankfully, nothing inappropriate happened with that therapist! But the other point about being present in the room is so that we, the parent/caregiver/guardian, can learn from the therapist too! (more on this in Part Two.)
Lastly, Tip #3 - trust the process! For the first couple of months, I remember wondering if we'd actually make any progress. I mean, how can the therapist see his big emotions, meltdowns and anger issues when he's in a room playing with toys!! I didn't understand but we kept going and you know what, over time, the therapist can get down to the root of some of those issues even without the child having a major meltdown. So while it's easier said than done, trust the process.
In closing for Part 1, Anderson's original play therapist was let go from her position 5 months into our journey. Her dismissal was for reasons I will never know but I do know I can rest assured that my my child was never in any danger while in her care. I was crushed, I felt like we'd have to start from scratch and I wanted to give up. But we didn't! And that's when things really started to click for both my child and me when we kept moving forward! Tune in for Part 2 of our journey next week!