I recently had to come to terms with the fact that my 24-week preemie will no longer be able to continue with the same therapy regimen he’s followed for the last three years, since coming home from a five-month NICU stint.
We’ve relied heavily on therapy, from Early Childhood Intervention before Bryce turned three, as well as a variety of private providers. He’s received physical therapy, speech language pathology, occupational therapy for fine motor skills as well as feeding issues, hippotherapy and developmental intervention. But a change in insurance coverage means that Bryce will go from getting about four therapy visits a week to as many per quarter.
I’ve done a great deal of worrying, soul searching and praying about how we should handle this massive strategy change. In the end, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that there is only so much I can do. And in the words of Bryce’s orthopedist, perhaps a little therapy break is just what he needs. Let’s hope. While I still have plans that I hope will eventually result in a continuation of therapy, for now a break is just what he is getting.
Our therapists were all kind enough to take the time to go over their strategies with me and help me outline a home program that I think I can manage. In my vast experience with therapists, I’ve found that they are care givers and will gladly give however they can. Whether that means showing you for a fifth time how to do that one exercise or sitting down and mapping out a plan for going on without them.
Since I also have a new baby it was important that whatever we planned for our home program it be something that I could work into our daily routine. But even without another baby to tend to, I value this in any at home therapy program.
And so here are my top three tips for working on speech therapy with a non-verbal toddler, adapted from suggestions for a home program by Bryce’s speech language pathologist, Holly Cardiff, MS, CCC-SLP of SMCW Pediatric Rehab in Cedar Park, Texas: