Bensten_Why Therapy_Large

Why Therapy? Because it Helps.

Author: Jessica Woolwine
Published Date: Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Jackson wears hearing aids. Abby wears glasses and an ankle brace. Fairly often, a curious child will point and ask:

“Why?”

The first few times, with my heart thudding in my chest and the sadness not far from the surface, I stumbled through a nonsensically long answer.

The child’s eyes glazed over. Obviously, I missed the mark. I quickly discovered simplicity is required.

My response now is, “She/he wears glasses/hearing aids/a brace, because it helps.”

Sometimes I’ll get follow up questions, and still I keep it simple. People wear hearing aids to hear better. They wear glasses to see better. Abby wears an ankle brace to walk better. My friend uses a wheelchair to get around better.

That’s all they want to know. They nod and move on.

The same goes for therapy; it helps.

Jackson, born full term with perfect hearing, now has moderate-to-severe high frequency hearing loss. The ototoxic chemotherapy he received for neuroblastoma caused irreversible damage before he was able to talk beyond words like MaMa, DaDa, bye and done. He started wearing hearing aids and attending speech therapy before he turned 2. He excelled and graduated from therapy.

One of Abby’s first words was cupcake. I think she’d thoroughly enjoy speech therapy, but she doesn’t need it. Given her prematurity and brain injury, however, she’s been in physical therapy since she came home from the hospital in 2012. She’s had five different physical therapists, each of them helping her increase strength and hit milestones I wasn’t sure she’d hit. It started with turning her head from side to side, getting her core strong with tummy time and eventually sitting up on her own.

It took her a very long time to crawl, stand, cruise and finally walk by 22 months. But, we got there!

Next week, Abby’s venturing into occupational therapy for the first time, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it will help her fine motor skills.

Yes, I just said I am looking forward to therapy.

It took me a long time to get to this place. We never want something to challenge our children so much that they need professional help. Watching your child fall behind their peers can feel isolating and overwhelming. Plus, there is still an unspoken stigma around therapy, whether speech, physical, occupational or behavioral.

I just don’t have time for stigmas – since our glasses are fixing our astigmatisms.

I challenge you to look at the therapy your child needs in the same way a child asks why. The simple answer is still simple: it helps them.

Jackson needed help learning to speak. He got it.

Abby needed help learning to walk. She got it.

I needed help learning the skills to parent my kids’ particular needs. Their therapists helped me get them.

There’s nothing wrong with a little help. Get it; use it. Believe me…it helps.

About Jessica Woolwine

Jessica Woolwine is a native of Hampton Roads and lives in Hampton with her three “miracles” Jackson (9), Abby (5) and Henry (1). As a mother to a childhood cancer survivor and a micro-preemie, she began the blog Mothering Miracles in 2014 to support other families dealing with health issues. Jessica also works as Creative Director for Rubin Communications Group and enjoys mixing her talents for graphic design and creative writing with community relations. She is a past member of both the CHKD Family Advisory Council and the CHKD NICU Family Advisory Council.