Sunday, September 2, 2012

10 tips on having a good home therapy program

The fabulous chairman of the company I used to work for, used to say that there are only two secrets to having a successful company 

First , Hire good people


 Second, Treat them well 

This is great advice for running a home therapy program - DH and I have had a home therapy programs for 5 years now and here are some things we learned.( of course, this is just our experience) 


We had a special situation in that there were not many new therapies available in our area . Despite this we had great therapists and R did well !


HIRE  GOOD PEOPLE

1. Heart 

In our experience good therapists  have a combination of heart and head - We had the good instincts to never ignore  the former.

2. We looked  for warmth and kindness. 


Its always puzzled me that while autisim is a disorder of social relatedness, many parents will not treat the power of the therapists social interaction with the child Many of our kiddos start their programs when they are mere babies . R particularly did much better with therapists that loved him and showered him with affection ( who wouldn't?)

3. "Different not less" attitude


We hired people who did not treat R as disabled and who saw his strengths as well as his opportunities . 

A child's spirit and self esteem are precious things and must be nurtured above all else 

4. Positive attitude  : 


the other day I was talking to a mum of a 4 year old who said that her speechie wondered aloud that her child would probably never talk .

Our speechie and therapists never said that even though R barely had any words till 5 . 

Its good to be realistic but we found it was better to err more on the side of being cautiously optimistic ( guess what? R talks a lot now ) 

TREAT THE GOOD PEOPLE  WELL

Pay well if you can 


We always paid a little above the average market rate. ( our area was a little affordable, so this was possible for us to do  ) 

Since we were paying for a lot of therapy for a lot of years we had to find ways to afford it without putting our retirement in jeopardy 

One such way was,  when we were doing ABA was to have a senior BCBA who would create the programs and then have more younger implementors 

But also dont think that the rate really  reflects the quality - R has had magical  therapists who charge $ 18   an hour and we have had ( briefly ) pretty useless people at $150 an hour

6. Have team meetings 


The biggest benefit of team meetings is that therapists got together and were able to brainstorm together on something that they were each facing with R .


Plus - team thinkings the hallmark of a custom therapy program - one of the biggest mistakes we can do is I think to have a bunch of therapists doing a bunch of things 


Its also a venue for you to share all that you are learning from other parents, training programs etc 

Its much better when there is a concerted effort around one goal - (that changes as the needs of the child change - in our case our goal started out pretty basic - learn the point of communication and then became progressively more and more complex to  reading comprehension and play )


While having team meetings can seem expensive - I think its something that really pays off
7. Always follow through with what the therapists suggest -

 if the therapist recommends using PECS then we knew R would learn PECS much faster if we used them all day - rather than just the 3 - 4 hours in the day that he was with his therapists 

8. Have realistic expectations : 


Teaching children is not easy - teaching autistic children is definitely not easy
9.Encourage creativity : 

Our therapist team frequently had ideas that are not traditional ( like doing communication therapy in the local bounce house or the swimming pool ). These sessions eventually became our normal !

 10. Treat your  therapist like you would like our therapist to treat your  child !!


Our  therapist team were all of them very altrustic people and they were in it to help kids like R. 

Most therapists feel nourished by words of praise and thoughtful gestures and so we lavished this on ours

Have you told your child's therapist lately that you love her? We did ! A lot !


Floortime Lite Mama and Floortime Lite Papa would like to thank the amazing therapists that helped raise their amazing child 

Thank you Miss Gypsi, Miss Tori , Miss Kristen, Miss Sadie, Miss Erin, Miss Melissa, Miss Scott, Miss Holly, Miss Joelle , Miss Chrsten, Miss Michelle

We  are richer for knowing you



This article is written for hopeful parents and has been published there today  at www.hopefulparents.org

7 comments:

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Some great common sense advice here - the sort that often gets forgotten though when you're stressed out with special needs. And that first paragraph should be framed and hung in every boardroom across the world :)

Julie said...

There aren't enough words to praise a really great therapist! I'm so happy for R (and you!) that he's had such a great team working for him! :)

Þorgerður said...

It is wonderful that R has had such great therapists and that they have been acknowledged.
Great tips

Tameika Meadows, BCBA said...

Love this post! Simple yet spot on, as while these may seem common-sense ideas I can attest that many families do not follow these simple suggestions. Reinforcement works on therapists too, not just on the children. :-)

Bright Side of Life said...

It was interesting to read about the process you have gone through with R and his therapists. I totally agree... hire good people and treat them well. I have also been extremely fortunate and am so appreciative of the wonderful people who we have in our lives.

Anonymous said...

Great post, very helpful! How do you hold a team meeting? Does it include school teachers and therapists? How do you direct the meeting when they are from very different angles?
Thank you!

Floortime Lite Mama said...

Anonymous great question
The school teachers and therapist don't usually come

The biggest thing is to start with a common goal that we all agree on
Then they each give input from their angle

Example the play therapist would work on greeting throough toys , the ABA therapists would work on it their own way

Floortime Lite Mama

On my life as the mother of an adorable 5 year old with Autism and Apraxia