Saturday, December 22, 2007

Deb Fixes the Myths of Therapy

Our oldest daughter came to our home, despite multiple handicaps and a life spent in an orphanage, completely able to keep up with her peers. She could dress herself, feed herself and even handle the bathroom on her own.

So, of course, nearly every medical professional, teacher and child "specialist" we met with encouraged us to place her in therapy.

"You know, she would be able to have free occupational therapy through the state -- part of the early intervention program. Your public schools would have to pay for it." One well meaning teacher told me.

"Why?" I asked. "She can do everything at an age appropriate level."

"Yes, but, it's free and would help."

Now, I should've asked, "Help with what?" but I just let it drop.

Another problem that occurred to people was the fact that our daughter spoke "Russian". That's in quotes because she actually spoke Ukrainian, which is a different language than Russian, but I could never convince people of that.

So, people kept telling me (despite the fact that she was picking up English so fast she was speaking in full sentences within a couple months of coming home) that she needed speech therapy. Of course, our insurance didn't agree, so they weren't willing to pay for it. I ended up calling our local public school to see what speech services were available for 3 year olds.

"Oh yes," the school system lady told me, "she certainly needs therapy! You need to enroll her in our preschool and then she'll get the services she needs."

"What services?" I asked.

"She can be a part of our class which has a focus on language development."

"So, all the kids have language problems?"

"Most of them."

Okay, so to learn English, I am supposed to take her away from her well-spoken older brothers and immerse her in a classroom full of kids who have language problems? Oh, that's logical!

Incidentally, 5 years later, our daughter took the Stanford Achievement test and tested at the 95th percentile and higher in her language abilities. Drat! I wish I had taken them up on that "speech therapy"! Maybe she'd actually be equal with her peer group rather than ahead of most of them.

Thankfully, our next daughter avoided all that junk, probably because her differences are not very noticeable to onlookers since it is just some missing hand and arm parts.

But our youngest, the one that can't walk, she's gotten the fullest treatment. Not just therapy, not just intervention, but a life that should be structured around therapy: therapeutic preschool.

Now, apparently, our daughter "should've" been fitted for her power chair at 18 months. She wasn't adopted until she was nearly three (what can I say, we're slackers), so she was already "behind schedule". So, to really help her catch up here was the plan:

1) Have her fitted for a 300 lb power chair that she can use no where except therapeutic preschool
2) Enroll her in therapeutic preschool so she can use the chair

Now, I love the idea of taking a child out of an institution, putting her into a family, and then placing her in an institution! That's just great for promoting healthy attachment!

Not all therapy is a hoax, of course, but I am just amazed at how quickly these professionals are willing to categorize my children. Our middle daughter provides another example. When she was originally assessed after her adoption, upon looking at her file, the first thing the occupational therapist said was,

"Well, she's from Kazakhstan so were definitely looking at fetal alcohol syndrome."

Not, "there's a chance for fetal alcohol syndrome" or "she's at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome" but, "she's got it". How's that for racial profiling?!

By the way, she doesn't have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Perhaps her birth family, who were Kazak, not Russian, were Muslim and didn't drink? I don't know, but I do know that I could've started years of therapy for a disability she didn't have because someone made a judgement about her based upon where she was born!

Intervention, where needed, is a good thing. Intervention, when inappropriately applied, robs my children of time they should be spending having a childhood.

Are my husband and I the only people that are really looking out for our girls?

Of course, any intervention we seek for them doesn't line our pockets or give us job security... so perhaps that's why we question more.

1 comment:

gingerswindow said...

Nope you are not the only ones looking out for them - the Mitchells, the Hickmans, the Burtons, the Williams and the list goes on. I think somebody is missing the importance of a loving church family in their therapy recommendations.