Monday, August 14, 2017

A Prayer for My Child's Therapist

Wealth and honor come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:12-13, NIV

When the morning bell rings, the children scurry to their classrooms. The teachers are there to greet our children and lead them through the school day. Teachers are the people we often first think of when we discuss going back to school. But, parents of children with disabilities have other school people in mind -- our child's therapists.

Whether it's a school based occupational therapist, physical therapist, or speech-language pathologist, parents know that their child's therapist is an important part of the school year. Like teachers, the school therapists are gearing up for the new school year. Unlike teachers, they may not always have a dedicated room to themselves to prep, but there are many things a therapist must prepare for at the beginning of the year. 

Therapists have a difficult job. A therapist may have to travel from school to school to see kids on their caseload. A teacher may be responsible for 20-30 students, a therapist may have double or triple that number to plan for and treat. Therapists primarily evaluate and treat children, but meetings and paperwork constantly mean adjustments to their schedule and flexibility to get it all done. 

Therapists are not always popular either. While some children may love doing therapy, some may not. These therapists may have some unwilling participants to work with under the strain of required IEP minutes and schedules. Therapists are not always received well by parents, especially if treatment hasn't been going as well as expected. While teachers will receive Christmas or end of the year gifts, the therapists often walks away empty handed because no one thinks to remember their small part in the child's life. 

Yet, these professionals choose to work with and serve our children with delays and disabilities. Some people do not understand the needs of our children, but these people do. As parents, we need these therapists! If we tried to get these services privately, we would have to jump through insurance hoops, worry about co-pays, and track how many sessions we can have before we max out for the year. The school therapists are the unsung heroes in our children's school life. 

As school starts back, I think about my children and their therapists. My daughter will work on her fine motor skills in occupational therapy and build language skills with her speech-language pathologist. Her progress will be slow, but by the end of the year there will be some new success to celebrate. My son will make an unhappy face when his physical therapist arrives to see him for his hypotonia and loose joints. He'll also work hard trying to produce a clear /s/ in speech therapy too. The therapy my children will receive is important, and I'm grateful for it. 

I know how challenging the work of a therapist is, therefore I know I need to cover them in prayer. With all that in mind, I offer this:

Thank you for the caring and dedicated therapists in my child's life. Bless the occupational, speech, and physical therapists who will be serving my child at school this year. Help them to feel appreciated while they are on the job and loved by the children they serve. 

Lord, 1 Chronicles says that You know how to give strength to all, so I humbly ask that you impart this strength to the ones working with my child. Give them patience when my child is not so cooperative. Help them to not take these poor attitudes personally, but help them to extend grace to the child that may not be in the mood for therapy. Give them wisdom when they need to make decisions about my child. Give them a fresh perspective on my child's condition and new ideas on how to best treat them. Help them to fight discouragement when there seems to be no progress happening. Let them experience joy in seeing new successes too. 

Help your spirit to shine through my child for the therapist to see. Let my children have good attitudes in therapy and build a positive relationship with their therapists. I pray that each of my child's therapists will come to know you personally this school year, and help me to be obedient if I am part of that equation. Give me patience and grace with my child's therapist. Help me to treat them as you would God, and help me to appreciate them more this school year. Amen!

*Mom of 2 kids in therapy & a pediatric speech-language pathologist*