A dear friend of mine and I have a lot in common in regards to raising our children with special needs. Recently we had a discussion. We get similar comments from friends and family that say, “I don’t know how you do it.” Followed by an intense stare. How does one respond to this?
First of all, I don’t have a choice. I love my child, Allie now 15. She lives with PCDH19 epilepsy and autism. Challenging at times but I strive to support her the best way I know how. Secondly, I don’t do this alone. I have support. I take extra time when choosing special people in her life that truly care for her. Also, various professional therapies are crucial. They are an important element to help her live the best life she can live.
Massage Therapy is one kind of therapy that is essential for a teens growing body. Allie has aches and pains just like anyone else. A professional Massage Therapist named Julie from The Child and Family Therapy Center of Denver arrives at our home and provides Allie with massage to relieve muscle tension and help with her tactile sensory issues.
Session with Julie, Massage Therapist
From The Child and Family Therapy Center of Denver's website.
For children with Autism, research has been published indicating that massage may provide relaxation, stress reduction and calm muscle spasms. Research has also demonstrated that this type of intervention may promote more on-task and social relatedness behavior during play, children with ASD show less erratic behavior, and are more attentive after receiving massage therapy.
Allie enjoys her time with Julie. It relaxes her mind, body, and spirit while providing benefits that I could not give her.
Music Therapy is another treatment that Allie benefits from. She had a strong aversion to songs on the radio, musical instruments, and other people singing. Her avoidance to any form of music was disruptive as anxiety grew whenever she was exposed. For a decade, the Happy Birthday song has been a struggle and creates internal anxiety for Allie. Once at a friends birthday party she ran out of a room while her peers were singing it. Other times she would cover her ears during the tune.
Music Therapy was the answer. A board-certified Music Therapist comes into our home weekly and provides hands-on musical experiences. Fun instruments are woven into lessons such as egg shakers, jingle bells, tambourines, the guitar and our own piano. The interventions are designed to promote wellness, manage stress, enhance memory and improve communication.
Ms. Shelby, Allie's talented Music Therapist, teaches her how to be in control of the music by creating and writing the craft. After three years of sessions, Allie's musical idiosyncrasies are manageable. She now enjoys listening to music in the car and even has her own playlists stored on an iPod which calms her during noisy or chaotic times. The Happy Birthday song issue is a work in progress and making great strides. I don’t expect a quick fix after so many years of avoiding the tune. With an understanding therapist like Shelby, I am confident Allie will be successful.
Ms. Shelby is Allie's weekly Music Therapist.
These are just two therapies I highlighted, however, Allie is in more and over her lifetime she will continue various therapies. I am grateful that I have help! I can't do it all alone and I'm not ashamed of this fact. It's a big job. If I'm going to give my daughter the best life she can live, I will ask for all the help I can get. With special people in our lives like these talented therapists, I can achieve that goal for her and for us.
Thanks for reading!
Joni Brown writes about her life raising her daughter that lives with PCDH-19 epilepsy, autism, anxiety and OCD.