Welcome to 2022, the year I thought we might be getting back to “normal.” I’ve already heard it coined “2020 two,” yikes! Maybe this is our new normal. I don’t know about you, but as a parent and professional, the past two years have been full of so much extra overwhelm. I often feel like I am “doing my best” while also just surviving the day, the week, and the month. While we all continue to adjust, as a professional, I have noticed a trend in many of my conversations with parents over the past few months that I would like to share more about.
Before I get into the “therapy” side of things, I thought it might be helpful to present an analogy that is likely relatable to most parents. When we spend every day, or the majority of our days, with our children, we often do not notice many of the subtle changes in development from day to day. However, I am willing to bet when your children see grandparents or close friends that they haven’t seen in a week or more, you receive comments on how much they are changing or growing up. Personally, I have had this happen with my own kids over and over again, even with their language development (something I like to think I would notice in my own kids as I’m a speech and language pathologist!).
Now how does this relate to therapy and living in a state of overwhelm? Well, when I am debriefing with a parent at the end of a session or talking to a parent during a session about progress, I’ve noticed a common “So you think they’re making progress? It seems like there hasn’t been big changes week to week.” As a therapist who works with children only 1-2 times per week, it is much easier for us to notice these subtle changes in development! One example that quickly comes to mind is a young client who has recently started using really intentional and consistent eye gaze to demonstrate joint attention or shared interest with toys. Now maybe this progress is not “meeting” the goal outlined in the plan of care, and it is something difficult to put into words and “quantify,” but it is such a foundational skill needed for communication and play. You better bet we celebrated the heck out of this attention and eye contact during our sessions, especially when it was apparent this was a new consistent skill!
It seems so easy to be discouraged these days, I would love to challenge you to find those small moments of joy or progress and hold on to them. As a therapist, we are often reminded to hold on to the small moments in therapy that make you smile because sometimes the hard sessions outnumber the ones that give us the warm and fuzzy feelings. I think this too can be true depending on what stage of life you are in with your children! If you’re feeling discouraged with slow progress or have questions about your child’s progress, have a conversation with your child’s therapist! We LOVE to talk about progress and would be happy to make some extra time to talk about what is going well, especially if you are needing a pick me up!
Did you show up today for your child? Amazing! Did you take a mental health day for yourself? What a good example you are setting taking care of yourself. Celebrate the little victories. Give yourself grace. We are all doing our best.