A version of this post originally appeared on Bringing the Sunshine.
Have you ever noticed that therapists have a lot in common with grandparents?
Because I have two children with special needs who’ve spent a lot of time in therapy, I’ve been invited a couple of times to speak to speech-language pathology graduate students. These are students who know a lot about the therapy side of things, but don’t yet have hands-on clinical experience, and their instructors thought that hearing a parent’s perspective would be helpful to them.
As I was preparing my remarks for the first of these talks, I thought a lot about the role that therapists have played in the lives of my children, and it dawned on me: they’re a lot like grandparents.
- Being with both therapists and grandparents is a lot of fun for the kids. They get their undivided attention, they play a lot of games, and the therapists smile at them a lot.
- Neither therapists nor grandparents are involved in anything other than very high-level only-if-it’s-absolutely-necessary discipline. The unpleasant stuff is left for me to handle at home.
- Spending time with the therapist or grandparent is a treat, limited to small intervals.
- Both therapists and grandparents are invested in the well-being of my children, and act accordingly.
- Because of their valuable knowledge and experience, both therapists and grandparents have suggestions about ways to help my kids. Most of those suggestions are good, although I still have the final say.
- Both therapists and grandparents celebrate even the smallest of my children’s achievements.
- Both therapists and grandparents are awesome!
Of course, there’s one more way that therapists and grandparents are alike: they don’t have the full-time experience of parenting my particular children, and they don’t have the ultimate responsibility for raising them, either.
But I’m glad that my children have BOTH grandparents AND therapists, and I consider them a valuable part of our village.
Andi Sligh is the author of There’s Sunshine Behind the Clouds: Surviving the Early Years as a Special Needs Mom, an ebook for parents at the beginning of their special needs journey. She is an ordinary mom living an extraordinary life on the Alabama gulf coast with a daughter with cerebral palsy, a son with Down syndrome, an adventurous husband, a wild Westie, a rescued Schnoodle, a camera, and a worn out pair of running shoes. She blogs it all at Bringing the Sunshine and tweets a little @AndiSligh.