Thursday, November 12, 2015
I was annoyed. I wasn’t mad yet, I was just annoyed. I stood at the window waiting for the new therapist to show up. She was twenty minutes late. Lexie, only three months old at the time, wasn’t going to be awake much longer. This was prime therapy time and we had no therapist. I remember calling her and leaving a short and cold message. Little did my naïve, inexperienced self, understand at the time that ECI therapists are driving from one house to another helping more families than what’s humanly possible. They’re understaffed and underpaid. I will spare you the political rant, but I’m shocked how little I knew of Early Intervention programs. Out of sight, out of mind. Anyway, back to this visit. I was nervous and very skeptical. How can they teach me to teach her? Why even bother? Her doctors are pretty convinced that she is a lost cause. The therapist finally showed up, apologized more than what was needed and jumped right in. She kindly explained that it was going to be a lot of work for her and us, but we would start out small and work our way up. It sounded daunting and I fully admit that there was no way I saw Lexie reaching the goals that we set for her. Goals that any three month old should’ve been effortlessly doing by now. I had no idea how much therapy would become a consistent part of our lives. Between the weekly visits and the constant struggle to make therapy a daily chore, not to mention the constant medical appointments on top of those tasks, it didn’t sound fair for a family that was still in shock and trying to put themselves back together.
Fast forward 5 years and 10 months of our family being enrolled in ECI.
Eli has officially aged out of ECI and is now attending school where he will continue to receive therapy. Watching the last therapist walk out of my door for the last time hit me like a bulldozer. I actually felt hurt and somewhat abandoned. I was shocked that I felt that way and I remember tearing up. Even though we just moved to Alabama, Eli had only seen this therapist twice before he was released from ECI. It wasn’t necessarily her as, a person, that I would miss, but it was what she represented and all of the therapists that came before her. I was never prepared to fall in love with these people. How much I would rely on their experience and expertise. How much I would enjoy their overwhelming love and acceptance for my children. They became my weekly counselors and my support team. They made me laugh and cry more times than I can count. They let me into their lives as well. I know their hopes and their personal struggles. They felt comfortable around me and I felt the same around them. They accepted my family. They essentially became my family. I’m not sure they fully understand the profound presence they left. I think they view it as only the profession they chose, but I view it as that and so much more. They made our lives richer and the crazy thing is we have a horrible brain condition and developmental delays to thank for that. Yes, it felt weird typing that, but it’s the truth.
Dear you know who,
It takes a special person to be a teacher. Although therapist don’t teach in traditional classrooms, therapists are teachers who provide our children with the basic building blocks to be successful in life. In our case, those building blocks are seemingly simple tasks like learning to eat, roll over, crawl and walk. Like traditional teachers, I don’t think therapists get what’s owed to them. You invest so much into your kiddos and celebrate every triumph as if they were your own children. Whether it’s from thinking of new and different ways to accomplish a goal to reading each child’s personality and finding what makes them tick, you give a lot and aren’t recognized nearly enough. You know what each child is capable of and it’s often much more than their doctors and even their parents expect for them to ever achieve. I consider myself lucky that I get to see you, incredible individuals, in action. I can't even imagine what you see and how you emotionally process it when a child is referred to you due to an unfortunate incident. If I had my choice, your workload would be cut in half and your salaries doubled. Unfortunately, despite how opinionated I am (Let’s not try to act like you’ve never noticed), the government has failed to share my point of view. Until we see eye to eye on this matter, please accept my sincerest gratitude, appreciation and the Ashe Hero Award.
Yes, it’s just a fictitious award, but it represents so much more.
The Ashe Family
P.S. Thank you for always supporting my Pinterest addiction and ignoring the random cuss words that sometimes escaped my mouth. It’s a hard habit to break.