It can be easy to live life in the day to day. Focusing on what is happening right now, on what needs to happen this hour, this day, this week, this term. It can be easy to keep our head down, and forget to lift our head up to see where we are going, forget to think about what we want our life to look like in the more distant future.
This same experience can happen for children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families. Once a child is identified as having a developmental delay, or is diagnosed with a disability, parents, families and therapists can get caught up on roller coaster of appointments, therapies, treatments, and paperwork. So much can be focused on the next skill the child needs to learn, the next goal to work towards, the next therapy session plan, that we forget to think about: “What is the ultimate outcome I want for my child?” or “What do I want our life to look like?”.
I have long believed that ‘the point of therapy is to get out of therapy’. What I mean by this is: the reason children and families come to therapy is to learn the skills they need to be able to get out and live life. Because life is where the fun stuff happens. Life is where your child gets to spend time with friends and family, go on holidays and adventures, meet new people, explore new activities and environments, create new memories, and build a sense of who they are as a person.
This is why we, at Move and Play, design and structure our services to provide children with pathways out of therapy and into ‘real life’. We call this our Therapy Pathway.
We envisage the Therapy Pathway as a stream, with upstream and downstream services, with the ultimate goal of ‘doing life’ as a pool at the bottom of the stream. When families first find out their child might have a developmental delay or disability, they can enter our Therapy Pathway in our Upstream services. Upstream services are designed to provide parents with information, connection, and early therapy supports so they can get started with helping their child as early as possible. Upstream services can include education workshops, books, handouts, blog posts like this one, online programs, and home therapy packs.
Mid stream services are the services that help children build and develop skills, and include 1:1 therapy, group therapy, and our programs of support.
Once a child has developed a necessary skill, they need to be able to use those skills in real life scenarios, and that is where our downstream services come in. Downstream services allow children to practice skills in social settings, in real life environments, or in more and more challenging situations with the support of our team. Downstream services include our social programs, our holiday programs, and our Allied Health Assistant programs that occur in homes and communities. Our expectation and goal is that once a child has mastered their skills in these downstream services, they will be ready to dive into getting on with living life, being the best version of themselves they can be.
If you are not sure which type of therapy will best suit your child, whether it be upstream, mid stream, or downstream services, please have a chat with your child’s therapist, and they can help map out your child’s progress on our Therapy Pathway, and give you the next steps for your child and family to be able to live their best life.