My five-year-old has started daily behavior therapy.
For a couple of hours every afternoon, he works on reading, identifying patterns, following directions, and honing his fine motor skills among other things. We both love it—he, because someone other than me is introducing lots of new toys and games into our home daily while giving him oodles of attention and reinforcement; me, because Charlie is learning and practicing useful skills instead of running away from me and jumping the fence to the neighbors’.
It’s a win-win.
We’ve been down the in-home behavioral therapy road before. Jack did it for about three years. He went from screaming at the sight of his younger brother, to sitting side by side at a little table with the same brother and driving tiny toy trucks through play-doh. Happily. Together.
Before therapy: we could not sit at a table together for mealtime. Jack got up and wandered off as soon as anyone else sat down. There was no eating, just the throwing of food with a side of shrieking.
After therapy: we can all surround the table at the same time…while eating the separate foods that my morbidly picky eaters find acceptable. Did I say we were perfect? I am just sublimely happy that Jack will sit with us at dinner time and nosh on his Dino nuggets.
Jack came a long way in his years of therapy.
His therapists were a helpful little army of believers in Jack. They were not put off by poo. They knew how to outlast one of Jack’s tantrums (which, btw, is the only way to change behavior). They were patient, but they were mostly just fun. They felt a little like family, in that they knew everything about us, yet they kept coming back. They put up with the irritating because they could see the big picture.
I still love them for it.
Our little five-year-old neighbor came to play after therapy today. As he and Charlie sat coloring pictures, our neighbor spied the therapy binder and asked what it was. I explained that it was a folder containing all the information for Charlie’s therapy.
“Does Charlie learn to do somersaults during therapy?” Our little friend asked.
“He does letters, and puzzles, and games,” I explained.
“Do you think I need therapy?” He wondered aloud.
No, little neighbor boy, you do not need therapy. You are bright, and kind, and focused, and well-mannered. But as for my family, we can really use some curative, restorative, healing therapy.