By KYLE KEENE
We certainly live in the golden age of societal advancement.
Think about the phone you were using ten years ago, the evolution of communication with friends or even your general outlook on society in
comparison to your grandparents.
These so-called advancements are far reaching and certainly include areas such as parenting and child development; however, despite advancements in research and overall availability of information, we are quicker to adopt certain changes over others, leaving other areas tragically behind. It is curious that an increasingly advanced and open-minded culture would continue to have certain blind spots – especially in areas that could help the cognitive development of people’s most prized possessions – their children.
What am I getting at? Well… unfortunately, we have found there is all too often a stigma attached to the word “therapy.” The misconception and overall lack of awareness world-wide is one of the biggest reasons we started Project Play. Few people have a clear understanding of the impact pediatric therapy can have on children, and parents are unlikely to learn when the surrounding community considers it a “hush hush” topic and does not help spread the word (the “power mom” on Facebook has more influence than one would think …). But why?
Let’s educate our community and not take it as an insult if someone recommends your child for a few sessions of OT … no shame in that! I needed therapy as a kid
Due to the mysterious and unknown nature of therapy, we often receive cold inquiries asking, “does my child need therapy services.” To be honest, we don’t know if your child needs therapy. There is no test, list of conditions or traits that could accurately answer this question via one email. However, an open-minded, non-judgmental discussion is where it all starts. The more people willing and able to have a discussion regarding the needs of children and the possible solutions our community can offer, the better.
For those (like me at one point in time) who need an introduction or refresher, here is a quick high-level overview of therapies that could be available to your children (again, this is just the tip of the iceberg):
Speech therapy – Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) are trained to identify and treat developmental and acquired disorders of communication, including all areas of spoken and written language. This encompasses areas in both verbal and auditory processes including articulation, fluency, voice, word retrieval and vocabulary development, verbal formulation, social use of language and listening.
Occupational therapy – Occupational Therapists (OT) are professionals that focus on achieving independence in all areas of their patients’ lives. Evaluations can assess sensory processing, fine motor skills, visual motor/perceptual skills, and activities of daily living.
Feeding therapy – Specially trained SLPs and OTs can assess any issue related to gathering food and getting ready to suck, chew or swallow. Hence, the therapist works on all oral motor, swallowing, sensory, and behavioral skills related to feeding.
Physical therapy – Physical Therapists (PT) are trained to facilitate the development of gross motor skills, posture, balance, coordination, endurance, muscle strength and flexibility. Doctors often recommend physical therapy for kids who have been injured or have movement problems from a developmental delay, illness, disease, or disability.
Remember, therapists serve children with a wide range of needs – whether that means learning to tie their own shoes in a few hours or forming a lifelong bond with a child with Down syndrome. I believe it is our community’s duty to continuously spread the word about all the talented professionals available to help our children thrive. It takes a village to not only raise our children, but also to raise awareness about tools available in our community!
Sarah and Kyle Keene operate Project Play and Franklin Speech & Learning Center, which serve Middle Tennessee through a network of more than 50 therapists with office locations in Nashville, Franklin and Nolensville. They provide Pediatric Occupational and Speech Therapy, with concentrations also including Physical and Feeding Therapy.