Over the years as a pediatric occupational therapist, you are offered a chance to be a part of someone’s family dynamics and help support them on their journey. When I was a new graduate, I didn’t realize how much I was going to learn from the families I was supporting. As much as you take course after course, watch videos online, read blogs, and speak with other therapists….I’ve found tremendous value in soaking up what each family had to teach me.
Ive recently come across a book called ‘Forever Boy - A Mother’s Memoir of Autism and Finding Joy’ by Kate Swenson. This book is unapologetically real and gives the reader a glimpse into what a family experiences from the moment their child is born and discovering they have a diagnosis of autism.
She is quoted saying ‘the diagnosis doesn’t just happen to the child. It happens to you and your partner and your other children as well — your whole family’.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because of the straight upfront narrative this mother has experienced internally and externally. As a clinician, I was taken back by the delay in services and what that ripple effect actually looked like. I found myself getting emotional reading about her current and future thoughts 💭 on what is life going to be like when…. As a mother you already have a million thoughts going through your mind and Kate highlights what has been inside her mind from the very beginning. The treatment she endured from individuals who didn’t understand what autism was.
Ive been fortunate enough to learn at an early stage in my career, to treat families with a family centered approach and a diagnosis is just an added title…. Focus on the child’s strengths and support the areas the family need supporting. What are the biggest challenges for them…right now? If the family is stressed, how can we support them to support their child?
In reading Kate’s book, I hope more people become aware that each family can have their struggles and require support. You don’t need someone telling you ‘they have autism’ for you to move past your stares and/or judgments.
Please take a read at Kate Swenson’s book. She also has a Facebook group called ‘Finding Cooper’s Voice’.
Become more aware….maybe we can bring more understanding and kindness to those who might be struggling. If your new to working in pediatrics, please read to gain a better understanding of a family’s perspective and if you know someone or have a child with extra needs, please have a read…this can help you too.
Thanks for reading 📖
Jessica Earle, Occupational Therapist