Special Needs Parenting Pitfall: Therapy = Perfection

Special Needs Parenting Pitfall: Therapy = Perfection - jenniferajanes.com

Special Needs Parenting Pitfall: Therapy = Perfection

My daughter has been very resistant to therapy for several months now. We talked about it, and I addressed the issues that seemed to be bothering her. Her therapists talked to her too. Then we took a summer break, thinking that would help her to be refreshed and ready to start again. But as summer ended and I began talking about evaluations and a return to therapy, she became more unhappy, anxious, and agitated. I tried talking to her, but she couldn’t seem to articulate what was bothering her. Until one day, she did.

She was sitting at the kitchen table drawing, and I told her it was time to add therapy back into our weekly schedule. She started crying, and I asked her what was wrong. And the truth finally came out.

She said, “I’m never going to get out of therapy!” When I asked her why she felt that way, she answered, “Because to get out of therapy you have to be perfect, and I’m never going to be perfect!”

Ouch. Apparently, I had done a terrible job of explaining the purpose of therapy and what it takes to “be done.” I explained about using therapy as a way to get caught up in areas where she’s behind, about how it’s easier to do that when you’re younger rather than older, about how catching up will make life a little easier for her as she gets older, and about how you graduate out of therapy when you’ve met the goals that show you’re caught up in the areas you were weak in.

She looked up at me with tears streaming down her face and said, “So I don’t have to be perfect?” I sat down next to her, fighting tears myself, and told her that I don’t have the right to expect perfection from her. I haven’t achieved it myself.

What special needs parenting pitfalls have you experienced? How did you handle them?

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6 Responses to Special Needs Parenting Pitfall: Therapy = Perfection

  1. Wow! I went through this with Bubs a few months before I called it quits on therapy for a while.

    • I’m sorry you went through it too, LaToya. I think we’re okay now, but the misunderstanding was so huge! It has definitely made me aware of the need to make sure she really understands why we’re doing what we’re doing – and for how long!

  2. Leigh says:

    My middle child is severely dyslexic, and it affects rote memorization as well. Many years ago, I held her back in math for a couple *years* while we worked on memorizing basic addition and subtraction facts. I was new to homeschooling and special needs, and I wish I could go back and tell my old self to let her keep moving forward in the concepts while using “cheats” for the facts. Now she hates math and is still very behind, but she’s good at it at the concept level. I have a lot of guilt there, but I try to move on.

    • We’re all just doing the best we can, Leigh. My daughter struggles with rote memorization as well as grasping the concept behind the facts. We’re working on both, slowly but surely. It’s hard to know what to do, since no parenting book I’ve ever read addresses my specific situation. (I’m sure such a book doesn’t exist and could never be written because our amazing children are all so different!) It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

  3. Kerith Stull says:

    We eventually let go of therapy when my daughter was about 16yo. It was so tough to just let it go. But families know when it’s time… for whatever reason! But therapy is never over. There are so many things in daily life that add to their development. You just have to see them for what they are… more than you thought!

    • They are definitely more than we think, Kerith! I know there will come a time when we will let go too, but there are still issues we need professional help with. And, as you said, we’re doing “therapy” all day long every day as we help our children learn how to function well in their daily lives! Thank you for the encouragement.

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