When our daughter was just 3 ½ she was diagnosed with ADHD. Our son received a diagnosis at 5. One of the first things our pediatrician suggested that we try was play-based therapy. We were lucky enough to find, with the help of our hyper-connected local community, a wonderful therapist who works in-home with our kids. Over the years she has helped both kids learn skill sets that have helped them manage strong emotions, transition between activities more smoothly, and verbalize their needs more clearly. But Amanda has been a gift to our entire family, not just the two kids she meets with.
When we first began therapy for our daughter it was because my husband and I were both
overwhelmed. Despite having quite a few tools in our metaphorical toolbox, him because he too has ADHD and I from years of teaching, we had reached the end of our abilities. Our child needed more from us and we didn’t know how to give it to her. More times than not, I felt like a failure as a mom, after only 3 years on the job!
But when we started therapy, we had a new resource. Each session begins when Amanda
arrives at our house. She and I spend about 10 minutes checking in on how things have been going since the last session. I share with her the successes and the struggles we’ve had. I also ask questions if I’m feeling overwhelmed or at a loss parenting them.
This serves two purposes. Obviously, it makes for a more productive session with the kids- she tweaks her plans for their time together to fit their particular needs and is able to dig into what they need. But it also means that I am able to get practical tips and advice from someone who knows my kids well and has much more training than I do. At the end of each session, she loops back and updates me on what they discussed, offering specific ideas for ways we can tweak a routine or add or subtract something from our days. I am much more relaxed and confident.
Interestingly, our middle child, who is neurotypical, has also benefitted tremendously from the therapy as well. Of course, her elder siblings learning better skills for emotional regulation has helped their relationships grow in ways that we had hoped for, but she has, as though by osmosis, picked up many of the habits herself and even the emotional vocabulary that helps us love her better. She is far more able to communicate her needs clearly to us than any of our other kids were at her age.
If therapy is something that you’re considering for any of your children, I can recommend it
wholeheartedly. It’s one of the best things we’ve done, not just for our two children, but for our whole family.
Colleen Pressprich is the author of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children. She
is a former missionary and former Montessori teacher turned homeschooling mom who seeks to use the lessons learned in the mission field and the classroom to grow the domestic church. You can read more of her writing at elevatortoheaven.com.