Our special needs kids usually need a lot of therapy. And because having special need is not just a stage in life, that means these therapy sessions are not temporary. Through the hospital alone, Ladybug has speech and physical therapy twice a week and occupational therapy once a week. On top of that she receives services at school as well. Sometimes it’s ok to take a break from therapy.
Concerns about taking a therapy break
The first time Ladybug’s therapists suggested she take a break I was apprehensive to the idea. I was concerned that taking a break would cause her to lose her momentum. She has come a long way in the last seven years and I didn’t want her to lose any progress she’s made. The first time a break was suggested I said no. I wanted her to continue with therapy.
A couple months later a break was suggested again, this time I agreed to a short break. I still had my concerns but it was only for one of her three types of therapy.
Our kids need a break.
My initial thought of taking a therapy break was that it would be for selfish reasons. As I already mentioned, Ladybug has 5 therapy sessions a week. That many appointments is a lot on a person’s schedule and takes its toll on a family. Grasshopper is brought to all of these appointments. Ladybug works hard through all of these appointments. Plus, it’s one more activity on an already hectic schedule for me as mom. I thought a therapy break would be good for me because it would allow for a break in the schedule, but bad for Ladybug due to reasons mentioned above. This is why I felt a break would be a selfish decision.
What I’ve come to realize however is that I am not the only one in this situation experiencing burn out. Ladybug can feel that too. She works hard each and every day, fighting for the ability to do basic skills. Struggling to reach milestones that come naturally to most other kids. Of course she gets tired. Probably even discouraged. It’s only natural for our kids to feel the need for a break as well.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that taking a break isn’t a selfish decision. In reality, these breaks are a time to allow your children to sit back and enjoy life without the added pressure of therapy. I would imagine it’s a lot like expecting a child to go to school year round. Kids need that summer break from school, so why shouldn’t we allow our special needs kids to have a break from therapy?
Benefits of a break
I mentioned earlier that I was concerned there may be negative ramifications for taking a break. Ladybug has come a long way and I was worried she would regress. The reality however was quite the opposite. Returning after the therapy break she seemed more joyful to be there. She suddenly had a new found sense of determination and motivation to work hard.
The break had many of the same effects on her as taking a vacation has for me. She flourished upon returning to therapy.
How and when to take a break
So how do you know when it’s time to take a break? That’s a conversation I recommend having with your child’s therapist. We are currently taking a break for a couple months with both speech and physical therapy. We decided now would be a good time for a break from speech therapy because it had been a year since we had a break. The decision was as simple as that.
Physical therapy is a different story. Other than short period of times when Ladybug couldn’t do physical therapy because she was in casts after various surgeries, she hasn’t had a break for a few years. It used to be that she had an out patient procedure every three months, and a major surgery at least once a year. You can imagine it’s more difficult to determine when to take a break since therapy is needed after these procedures.
Recently Ladybug has been much more resistant to her physical therapy sessions. She would yell for me, start crying (even though she wasn’t in pain), and show no motivation to do anything. Because of her lack of willingness to participate, we decided it was time for a break.
So, my advice is this. If you haven’t had a break in a while talk to the therapist about it, especially if you’re child has been moody. If they think it would be a good idea, don’t be afraid to give it a chance. Remember, if you’re burning out chances are your kid is as well.
One last note, when canceling your appointments, only cancel through the amount of time you’re taking off. Don’t take your child completely off the therapist’s schedule or you’ll risk loosing your time spot. If you want to keep 8:15am on Mondays and Wednesdays, only cancel the appointments through the break period!