So after setting up appointments with an occupational therapist and developmental pediatrician, it was time to head in for our first appointment! (There was a waiting list of 8 MONTHS for a developmental pediatrician.)
To tell you the truth, before going in, I really didn’t know much about what occupational therapy even was. My son doesn’t have an occupation and I didn’t think that sitting down and talking to a therapist was going to do much. Thankfully, both of my initial thoughts were wrong.
When we walked in, I immediately saw what looked like a gym. There were mini trampolines, a swing, some mats, a play kitchen…lots of things! My son wanted to run right in! We didn’t go there though (at least not then), and instead went back to a quiet room with some toys and the occupational therapist (OT) and her student.
The OT just started playing with my son so that I could start my son’s evaluation with the student (the OT was in the room with me the whole time though listening to my answers). The student asked me questions about his eating and sleeping habits, his ability to dress himself, things he liked to do, any special circumstances about my pregnancy and delivery with him–a whole lot of questions! I also felt, for one of the first times (other than the pediatrician’s office a few weeks before), like I was in a judgment-free zone. I flat out said that I knew that my son watched too much TV, but since I couldn’t leave my kids alone together to get anything done, I needed a babysitter! The student said in the nicest way,
“Oh, so you’re human then?”
I felt so relieved by that! She recognized that I couldn’t do everything myself and that I was just doing the best that I could. I loved that! I knew that I was in a great place.
After the questions, the student sat down at a little desk across from my son and tried a few fine motor activities. She tested his abilities to copy the block structures that she made, his ability to build a tower, unbutton buttons, lace beads, draw lines, circles, and squares, use scissors, and count. I was amazed at what the student and OT were able to glean just from watching him do a few simple activities!
I was informed that my son has poor hand and core strength, has trouble crossing his midline (prefers to transfer objects from one hand to another instead of crossing his body), and has a plethora of sensory issues that they would write up for me in greater detail.
This was another time where I almost started crying. Here were two women who understood my son. Who wanted to help my son. And who didn’t judge my son. I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratitude just flood over me.
I had spent almost three years of watching my son want to make friends, and not know how.
I had spent almost three years of watching others criticize him for his aggression.
I had spent almost three years wanting to give up, thinking that I had somehow ruined him, and that there was no hope.
Starting OT made me realize that the tunnel that I was traveling through wasn’t pitch black like I thought. There truly was a light at the end. It was far away and barely flickering, but it was there.
I left OT feeling more love for my son than I had felt in a long time. Knowing that I had been doing everything right with the information that I had currently possessed made me feel like the best mom in the world. I know that it was only through the power of God that I had even made it that far in my parenting journey with him, and I felt so blessed.
We scheduled weekly visits in order to set up a game plan and further work with my son and his challenges. Funny thing was that I was given homework. Evidently the OTs at this facility gear a lot of their treatments around the concepts taught in the movie Inside Out. We had never seen it, so it was our homework to go home and watch it as many times as possible! (Which my son had no problem following through on.)
With a plan to meet the following week, I was filled with hope that I could survive yet another week with him. And not only survive, but begin to thrive. Read Part 3 to see how our first real visit went!
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