We are blessed with having in-home therapy for our two boys that are on the autism spectrum. This was a new concept for me, having someone in my home on an almost daily basis. After two years, here are some things I have learned:
1. Therapists say they don’t care if your house is a mess.
They really don’t. The first couple of times my son’s therapist came to our home, I made sure everything was in tip-top shape. You know the drill. The beds were made, no dirty dishes in the sink, not a crumb to be found on the floor. I could only keep that up for so long. They are coming to my house, not a museum, and they don’t expect it to be perfect. Their attentions are focused on helping my kiddo, not on the clutter on my counter.
2. Kids will use the fact that they are in their own home to “escape.”
My kids’ favorite “escape” is to run into my room to “see mommy.” Sometimes that is their true motive, but sometimes they just want to jump on my bed and avoid their work. This is a situation that wouldn’t come up in a more clinical setting, but it does give them a chance to “work for a break to see mommy.” I have to tell you, there is nothing sweeter than overhearing your kid work hard so that on his “break” he can run into your room and give you a hug. Think this reward system will still work when they are teenagers? 🙂
3. If you have a deployed spouse and are on your own with two special needs kiddos, there can be few sounds as sweet as your doorbell.
During my hubby’s most recent deployment I was definitely overwhelmed. Sometimes the only break or time to myself that I got was during their therapy appointments. At first I felt so guilty sitting in my house while someone was working with my kid. I would frantically try to finish all the laundry, vacuum all the rugs, just because I felt like I should be doing something. Over two years later, I have learned that sometimes the most important and valuable thing that I can do is to take a break. Seriously. Not only take a break, but to enjoy it and not feel guilty. Then I feel refreshed and when the kids’ are done with their therapy we can all relax and have some fun together. This week during my kids’ appointments so far I have to admit I did my downstairs tile floors and some laundry. But you know what else I did? Watched some HGTV and drank a cup of coffee while it was still hot. How sweet it is. Happy, Relaxed Mommy= Happy, Relaxed Family.
4. My kids while have lots of different therapists, but I am their only mother.
This kind of goes with number three. As a teacher, I was feeling so guilty that my kids were spending so much time with other people who were teaching them things that I could be teaching them. This was a real struggle for me, with a lot of guilt. I finally had to let it go and realize that I can’t be everything that my kids need. All you mothers out there, repeat after me. I can’t be everything that my kids need. It is not possible for me to do what a therapist can do and still be there for them as a mother. My most important job is to be their support, create a loving, nurturing home where they can thrive, and to be their cheerleader. In doing so, as their mom, I am the most important teacher they will ever have.
5. You are surrounded by experts. Ask for help.
This was a hard one for me. (See, just like it says in the “About Us” page, I do have control issues!) I would struggle with different issues about my kids and feel like I couldn’t take up the therapist’s time with questions. Finally, I have realized that not only do they welcome questions, it also provides them valuable insight as to what is going on with a kiddo and where they may need additional support.