Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Culture of the Waiting Room

One of the things I wish I'd done differently when it comes to Jack and his autism is that I wish I'd pursued private therapy earlier. We really just started speech therapy and OT this year. I listened to the school system when they said he didn't need speech or OT because his deficiencies didn't affect his ability to learn.

I kind of beg to differ, but we all know that. My point is that it finally occurred to us that we could put Jack in private therapy—at least until our insurance runs out. So now we go to speech therapy and occupational therapy a couple of times a week. Jack will also be starting his first social skills group next month.

I know. You all thought I was more together than this, huh? Seriously. I never got the manual telling me what to do, or I would have put him in speech therapy two years ago.

I've been using our waiting room times to study the other (mostly) moms that take their kids to therapy. Except for that one time that my other kids weren't with me. That time I fell asleep.

It can be embarrassing to be me.

Anywho.

It's interesting to me that I am clearly the newbie in every one of these waiting rooms. I have yet to meet anyone who has started coming more recently than me.

At our occupational therapist's office, I followed the sign that was posted on the front door the first day that said to go around to the side door. There's a cold, dank little waiting room there. The rest of therapy rooms are part of a house. Other parents seem to "go upstairs" frequently. I think some of them wait up there while their kids are in sessions.

Our therapist comes to get Jack and brings him back when the session is over. The billing person comes down to get my check. Other parents wander in and out and their kids go find their therapists by themselves.

I've only been upstairs once, during Jack's evaluation. And I'm really curious what it's like up there during session hours. Do they have coffee and cookies? Do they get to observe their child's session? It's like the VIP room and I can't get past the velvet rope.

Speech therapy is a little different because our regular session is at the same time as a group of kids that have a social skills group immediately following their private sessions.

So they all kind of know each other and the parents know the siblings' names and stuff. And because we're only one family, they picked up our names really fast. (Especially because I have to yell at them by name a lot because corralling them is like herding cats.) All I know is that the kid with the same color hair as Quinn is named Ben.

But I'm learning. I'm learning to not feed them junk food on therapy days because Ben's mom brings Doritos that she insists he share with all the other kids. (My kids loooooove Ben.)

I'm learning that I may have to take up knitting like one of the other speech therapy moms. Because it's hard to be friendly when you're reading a book, and it's boring to stare at the walls, but creating something AND chatting. Hmmmmm....

I've also noticed that siblings of kids in therapies have lots of hand held electronics. As do we. Because it is sooooooo much easier to keep siblings happy and quiet and in a seat every week when they're playing a video game.

Homework is easier for my oldest son to do at occupational therapy (where all the other people are "upstairs") than at speech therapy (where all the other people are eating chips and playing games right in front of him).

I'm still learning the waiting room ropes. And one day someone even newer than me is going to walk in and look to me for answers. And at that point, I will direct them to a different parent and then I will listen in to learn the things I was never brave enough to ask in the first place.

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