All of us have OUR PLAN: big, small, vague, specific.
It doesn’t matter what it is, everyone has a plan for themselves, their children, their family, their house, etc. You could have a 5-year plan, 10-year plan, a plan before or for a specific birthday, a day-to-day plan…or even all of the above!
Personally, I am a “priority to-do list” maker and have one for work, one for the household tasks, and one for my own “life goals”. I cannot even begin to tell you how often my daily “to-do” list is re-written, added to, re-prioritized, etc. – all before the day is done! Although I have “big plans” for my accomplishments each day, I rarely get to cross off all of my items/tasks for that day. Often, I feel a little defeated at the end of the day when I am writing my “new” list for tomorrow with some of today’s items I wasn’t able to accomplish.
This past weekend is a perfect example.
I had my weekend priority to-do list of about twelve items and checked off only four and a half. Sunday night, feeling quite defeated as I wrote out my “new” to-do list that included many of the same items, my husband spotted the setback in my eyes and reviewed my lists. I was hesitant to admit that I felt like a failure, but I’m glad I did, because he was a HUGE help in reminding me how productive I was, even if I did not get to all of my desired tasks. He helped remind me of the little additions that snuck into my day without making it to my list, and the multi-step projects that I started but didn’t complete. I was also reminded of how important my nap was earlier that day to recharge. Staring at my new list after his pep talk, I couldn’t help but relate all of these emotions to the kiddos and parents that I get to work with and help make these same realizations…on a MUCH bigger scale!
In therapy, we set long- and short-term goals for each child.
These goals are all individualized according to each kiddo’s current skill levels and their specific needs/desires. Some have one or two, others have six or seven. Some move through them quickly, and others take a longer time. We set the short-term goals with the aim of providing the tools needed for the kiddos (and families) to progress toward the long-term goals. All too often we are focused on OUR PLAN, the long-term goals, and the potential discharge from therapy, and we may overlook all of the steps it takes to get there. Your therapists are here to remind you of those little things that “snuck” past your radar – the ones on your “to-do list” and the ones not.
Therapy feels like it crawls sometimes.
But each and every session accomplishes something – even when it feels like it didn’t! Think about therapy as running a marathon. Everyone runs at their own pace, stopping and starting, speeding up and slowing down, but they are all headed towards the finish line. There will be hills, plateaus, obstacles, and yes, even setbacks along the way. But each and every smaller accomplishment helps us reach the finish line. Like the mile markers in a marathon, there are “check points” throughout the therapy process. Use these check points to talk with your therapist about the process your child is making, how far they have come, and what the next “leg” of the therapy marathon is looking like.
Sometimes our course will change, and there is nothing wrong with that, as long we’re still moving toward the goal.
Jessica Orlick, MS, CCC-SLP