How Therapists Are Like Grandparents

A version of this post originally appeared on Bringing the Sunshine.

2013/166 - Only Grandson

Andi’s Son Nathan with “Papa”

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Spending time with the therapist or grandparent is a treat, limited to small intervals.
  4. Both therapists and grandparents are invested in the well-being of my children, and act accordingly.
  5. 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.
  6. Both therapists and grandparents celebrate even the smallest of my children’s achievements.
  7. 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 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.

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