Graduating from Occupational Therapy

April 18, 2016

My 8-year-old twin girls graduated from occupational therapy last week.

twins occupational therapyOur journey in therapy has not been a long one. For years I counted us among the lucky ones: 31-weekers who, through babyhood and toddlerhood, showed no immediate signs of needing assistance. They met their milestones about two months behind, as expected. They didn’t have trouble eating or speaking.

Sure, they were a little clumsy, but they were kids.

Sure, I ended up helping with shoes, zippers and buttons way longer than I should have, but there were two of them. It was just faster that way. We were fine.

Last summer I started to realize that maybe we weren’t fine.

When you’re around your own children all the time, little things will slip by you, but boy, do those things become apparent when you’re around other children who are physically agile and emotionally articulate. My youngest daughter is one of these children, and while she is a little advanced for her age, we were starting to notice a distinct difference between a “typical” child and two that may be a little delayed.

Turns out they weren’t just clumsy after all. They didn’t just have poor core strength. They were 2 years behind in gross motor skills.

personal space rules occupational therapy

Personal space rules for friends and classmates that they came up with together.

With a referral from our pediatrician, we headed to a free consultation, which led to an all-out evaluation, which then resulted in weekly appointments for each of my twins. For eight months I pulled them out of school each Monday and drove to a nearby suburb for their therapy appointments. In those eight months, my girls

  • learned to tie their shoes
  • progressed in their handwriting
  • learned to play appropriately with others by taking turns and following game rules
  • improved their balance and core strength with a series of yoga poses and balance and coordination exercises
  • learned important social skills such as Whole Body Listening and personal space rules (“You are in my bubble” is a regular phrase around the house now, and it feels much nicer than “Get out of my face please!”)
  • fell in love with their kind and patient therapists

I’m not going to lie, I learned a lot from their therapists too:

  • that one of my girls is a sensory seeker
  • how to talk to one of my girls when she’s down on herself
  • how to react when I feel they’re not listening
  • strategies for getting through that awful second grade homework
  • confidence in my own parenting abilities

Before I knew it, and in pure twin fashion, they had met all of the goals set for them from their initial evaluations at the same time. Since I had no additional concerns, it was time to graduate. We set a date, and the therapists went about planning a fun last day where they made cookies and played games with their favorite stuffies, who weren’t usually allowed to come out during the appointment. The girls put together thank you gifts for each therapist.

occupational therapy

Progress: Riding downhill and balancing on one foot for the first time.

My girls were sad to leave therapy, and I have to admit, I was too. I was thrilled to not have my Monday afternoons cut short anymore, but sad that I wouldn’t have that time with just my twins. It’s amazing how just having one fewer child in the mix can drastically alter the afternoon’s dynamic. I was so happy they had made so much progress, but a little bummed that they wouldn’t get to see these amazing therapists anymore who had taught us all so much.

They often ask if we can go back next year, like starting a new school year. I tried to explain to them that that’s not really how it works.

Maybe we’ll just have to go back and visit.