Sunday, September 9, 2012

The beginnings of many things in the Pacific North West

My dear Friends

How apologetic I am that I have not visited your blogs for a couple of weeks!

Busy is an understatement for how its been !

Promise to visit  your blogs very soon

So all I talked about the last few posts was that we were moving

Are you wondering how it went ?

Well the last bit of August was all about Goodbyes

Goodbyes to R's therapists -

 Our last team meeting ( just the words want to make me cry )

So much have these women meant to us these past few years
S


Goodbye to my work friends

My work friends were so lovely - my BFF had this idea of circulating this diary around where everyone wrote something special about my relationship with them ( and this diary along with a few notes from my other work friends are sitting on my desk in my new office like a talisman of warmer times )

On my last day my team took me out to lunch and they had planned a big surprise and the chairman of the company showed up to wish me luck

They are such fantastic people

The cabin we have put on a rental program - the last weekend DH and I drove down to say goodbye

I took a last few goodbye pictures


Our bedroom where I used to wake up and see the sky when I woke up

The lovely smoky mountains of Tennessee will always have my heart -

As we drove back to our home from the cabin down these lovely green hills - I thought about how I did not even know the names Knoxville, Sevierville and Gatlinburg 10 years ago.



R's therapists came to say Goodbye to him at the airport and it just made me cry
And then it was time to go

We landed in Seattle when the Pacific Northwest was at its most spectacular



We were so exhausted mentally and physically when we reached the apartment that my new company has given us for 2 months

The apartment is right in downtown and its joy to have a little respite from the burden of things that has become our life

( I have become convinced that we need a lot less stuff than we think we do )

DH and I have decided that the most important thing will be to sell R on Seattle

Fortunately, the apartment has all the things that are so important to R

A giant playground and park right downstairs where there are plastic toys galore

Here R climbs a slide , but sometime he really does not care about what the other kids are doing are thinking

 In many ways a nice thing as I wonder if they are sometimes thinking unkind things :-(

And he sits atop enjoying the view from the top

 
Every piece of plastic that has been made , is here
 
 
It has a duck pond

And a Fountain ( which R loves throwing pennies in )

Not just this - there is Pizza place in the same block and there is a Mall really close by and R gets to visit with his favorite relative - Aunt Annie
 
 
That weekend there is even a cultural festival in the park and they have outdoor Bounce equipment
And face painting
This last one has been a HUGE passion for him ( owing to him having seen some TV characters do it - he has been trying to paint his own face with markers and has been strictly told not to do so - Naturally,  this means he is even more wild to do it !!)

Of course he has asked for a red star and a green star ( such is his loyalty to Coke and Sprite )

The weather ( which will turn awful next month ) has been very unusual - warm and sunny each day
( almost a little hot for us  - as the apartment does not have air conditioning )

the apartment even has a heated pool

Plus his school will only start next week and as R is a real aficionado of the slothful life he is very happy to swim , play and stim on his Tablet all day

And frank, I am grateful for this little oasis for him as the last months have been incredibly stressful

He starts School on Monday with a school that has a program for "High functioning autistic kids "

(  DH  does like the school so far - I have not been to any meetings- thank god for my husband who does all these things so well )

And how am I in all this?

There are many stresses that come for a person like me

Do you know I have a terrible sense of direction

DH helps me out a lot by taking me for practice drives and making detailed maps for me.

The day I have to go to office for the first time I am a little in tears when I see that he has parked the car in reverse as a little surprise . These are the "I love you"'s of not-new marriages and they move me just as much as the other surprises he used to do for me 17 years ago when we first met

Starting a new job in a new industry is both exhilarating, exhausting  and terrifying .

Which I can say perhaps of the whole move ..

I get my strength from my knowledge and from my relationships with people and here I have to start to build it all from scratch

How and why do we always leave ?

And yet I think its the right thing for us

For somewhere in my heart I know that home is not a place for me

Its where these two are




 

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

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