Pursuing Therapy for Your Child in 2023
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely because you have a child who is in therapy or you are interested in learning more about if therapy is right for your child.
I also suspect that there is or was an element of apprehension towards seeking therapy for your child. No matter how big or little the concern regarding your child’s development is, taking action to that concern means voicing a perceived struggle that you are observing in the thing that means most to you in this world. By advocating for your child and providing him with the resource of therapy, you simultaneously have to talk to someone about the challenges that you are wanting help with, which is hard!
Often, parents internalize their child’s struggle and may feel responsible for causing it or feel shame for needing someone else to help them with fixing it.
What adds to the burden of shame is the feeling of isolation when your gut instinct on what is best for your child isn’t met with validation, support, or empathy from your village. It’s a story we hear often, when parents express their story of isolation in pursuit of helping their child.
“We were told if he bites again, he’s getting kicked out of preschool.”
“His doctor just told us to give it 6 months and wait and see.”
“They told us that he’ll eat when he’s hungry, but it’s simply not true.”
“My parents just think I need to be better at disciplining, but typical “antecedent, behavior, consequence” strategies just don’t seem to fit my child.”
The thing is, parents who proactively support their child’s mental, physical, and developmental health are the ones raising the next generation of confident, self-aware, resilient children. They are watching their parents acknolwedge an area they both need help with, validate their struggles, celebrate their progress, and overcome their challenges so that they know how to do these things for themselves when they become adults.
I am so grateful to be an occupational therapist during this time in our profession, where there has been a paradigm shift in the way that we look at and support individual differences. Thanks to many fantastic researchers, neuroscientists, psychologists, self-advocates, therapists, and allies to the neurodiverse community, we now have an immense amount of knowledge and research at our fingertips, which tells us how and why we should provide children and families with relationship and strength-based therapy services to improve their quality of life, now and in the long-run.
But why do kids get therapy more now than when our parents were raising toddlers?
Are we seeing an increase in characteristics of development that warrant therapy services?
There’s a lot of research currently going on that investigates answers to these questions. But what the persuasive current research on Neuroscience and it’s connection to human behavior tells us is there is a significant correlation between proactively supporting your child’s unique needs and individual differences to their overall well being and long term mental health.
So, we know the benefit to seeking therapy; but we still don’t have enough research to address the rising prevalence.
What I presume based off of my experiences as an OT and my interest in how others’ brains work is that as a human race, we’ve experienced neurodiversity for thousands of years yet we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg with our pursuit to define these individual differences across people, and make sense of it.
Einstein’s invention of electricity.
Isaac newton’s contributions to physics & astronomy.
Beethoven composing music.
All brilliant minds from history, and none with a “DSM-V” (diagnostic) label attached to them. However, when you read about their character or rituals and habits, you can see connections to criteria we now use to assign a “disorder”.
Many adults walking around today engaging in routines and regulating through sensory modification are unknowingly part of the Neurodiverse community, but their individual differences may have never been identified or understood accurately. While many of these adults are happy and successfully employed physicians, engineers, and lawyers who found their passion and stumbled upon ways to perform at their optimal level of performance, too many of these adults have struggled with their mental health and turned to substances in their journey of navigating a world that is overwhelming.
What’s changed much more than human development and behavior over the last 30 years is the prevalence and use of technology across all ages of our population. This technology puts immediate answers in the hands of small children, and creates a life of publicity for our children to grow up in. This technology creates a world which differs greatly from our childhood years, and vastly from our parents’.
My perspective is that it is different that our generation is seeking therapy services more frequently than our parents’ generation did.
But I’m not sold that our parents’ generation wouldn’t have benefited just as much from these services that we now have the knowledge, research and evidence behind.
And the world we are raising our children in is different.
And we all know difference is hard.
but if you’re here, I think you’ll agree that difference is a beautiful thing if you let it be!
So if you feel isolated, a sense of shame, or apprehensive about pursuing therapy for your child, I want you to know that I stand with many therapists and child development experts with saying it’s one of the greatest steps you will take in supporting your child’s developmental journey, and your journey as a parent!
You won’t regret making the commitment towards investing in therapy for your child. There is a wonderful community of professionals who have devoted their career towards the areas that you are needing support. Complete our Sign Up form as the first step in finding your village!