Our little guys have been in therapy for years now. We’ve had/have some therapists we love and some that weren’t the best fit for us. One of the biggest issues we’ve had over the years is that some therapists simply don’t seem to listen and we end up getting some fairly unhelpful advice on what we should do to address certain challenges.
I ran into this problem today and thought I’d blog about it, since I’ve seen other parents run into the same issue in forums I’m involved in and feel unsure of what to do.
Today, our youngest’s interim speech pathologist (his regular speech pathologist has been out on maternity leave) had her last session with our guy. She sat in on his OT session so that she could make some recommendations to our youngest’s OT therapist who is working with him on feeding (among other things) since she apparently has a background in feeding therapy.
When she came out she asked for one of us to step into a room with her to discuss things away from our little guy. I went with her, expecting something profound or different … or at least somewhat helpful. Instead, I was basically told that the biggest struggle for our little guy is the fact we’re (according to her) talking about his vomiting at dinner too much.
I sat there listening to her, digesting what she was saying before responding.
I find it’s always good to let people speak in situations like this so that they feel you’ve fully heard what it is they have to say, otherwise they’ll focus on the fact you responded to quickly and not fully appreciate your feedback.
What I found most interesting and frustrating about this was that she didn’t preface this suggestion by asking about our typical dinner behavior. She didn’t ask if we talk with him about eating, how we present his food to him, whether or not we require he try to eat foods he gags on or vomits every night, etc. She simply decided, for reasons unknown, to determine that one of the major root problems was the fact we apparently discuss vomiting, gagging and our son’s eating at every dinner.
After she finished, she then suggested that in addition to not talking about his food aversions/vomiting/gagging at dinner that we allow him to eat “preferred foods” only for a week and help us prepare meals with foods he can’t eat (keep in mind these foods are primarily meats–which would be dangerous–and foods he won’t even touch with his hands in most cases because he has a number of sensory issues). As an example, she suggested allowing him to stir something in a crock pot while it cooked.
Yes, you read that right. She suggested I allow our hyper-impulsive 6 year old who struggles with some fine and gross motor skills to stir a bubbling dinner in a hot crock pot. Keep in mind, we actually don’t cook with a crock pot and I would never let him do this anyway, but this was her suggestion.
At that moment I felt more justified in the fact that her suggestion was simply not appropriate for us in a number of ways.
She’s an interim therapist, but she’s been with us for about 4 months now. We’ve had therapists for far fewer sessions that have asked the right questions, listened and made far more appropriate suggestions.
Here’s the reality of our dinners:
- we DON’T talk about the fact our goal is that he avoids gagging or vomiting prior to him eating
- we DON’T force him to eat foods he can’t tolerate at every meal or every dinner
- we DON’T talk about his eating issues with him day in and day out