We are saying goodbye to an important #Autism therapy

I took Emmett to occupational therapy this past Tuesday, only to find out that this is his last session. I had no idea this is what was going to happen and frankly, I’m not sure what to think. 

Having said that, it’s not uncommon to take a break from things during the Summer and pick things back up in the Fall. 

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Unfortunately, that’s not the plan, at least not at this point. They billed this whole thing as graduation. We can always re-evaluate in the future but they feel Emmett can use the skills he’s learned to get through the Summer/rest of his life. 

I didn’t make a big deal out of this at the time because Emmett was upset enough, and I wanted to get him through this before figuring out what to do. I also wanted to talk to Lizze and make sure we were both on the same page before deciding on an approach. 

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The more I think about this, the more upset I get. Kids in the Autism Spectrum need these services on an ongoing basis. It’s a support service for a reason. 

Occupational therapy helps him better navigate his world. It obviously can’t go on forever, but the kids only eight years old. I’ll keep you updated on how we handle this unexpected twist. 

Either way, I have some pictures to share from his last occupational therapy session. 

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  1. Jimmy Rock

    Sorry about this unexpected development. Some questions though – why was this unexpected? How do you just show up one day and they just tell you, completely out of the blue, “Hey congratulations, it’s graduation, see ya never!” It makes absolutely no sense to be completely blindsided by a therapy service coming to an immediate and abrupt end.

    Who makes this determination? Is it based upon necessity? It sounds like from what you wrote above, Emmett was evaluated and he performed too “well” to continue to receive services. If it is based upon necessity, you should have received test scores and a report explaining the determination. Or is there some financial factor or coverage issue at play here?

    Whatever the circumstances are, I hope you get it straightened out. Another typical battle a parent of an autistic child finds him or herself waging all too often.

    1. You know, I totally agree with you. I suppose it could have been a miscommunication, but when it was suggested that Emmett begin working with a peer during therapy, I thought that was something new they were adding to his existing therapy.

      At no point was it ever mentioned that it would run for eight sessions and then he would be done with therapy. I didn’t hear that until last Tuesday. It’s possible that this was discussed at a time when Emmett was absent because of his fever cycles.

      No one ever reached out to let me know.

      With all that said, it’s not uncommon that we take a break during the summer and then get things going when school starts. The impression I have from this last appointment was that he was to use the skills he’s learned, to help him manage his emotions, and that’s great.

      The problem is that OT is about way more than managing emotions. He’s got major Sensory issues that therapy helps with.

      We’ll see what happens toward the end of the summer…

      Insurance isn’t an issue for him in this regards, and while he’s doing good in therapy, he needs help on an ongoing basis, at least for now.

  2. Facebook Profile photo bwiren

    Yeah, I don’t like the way it sounds either. I’m sure you will want to contact them and have a sit down talk, in person or over the phone. I don’t know enough about OT so maybe with what they were focused on, he’s doing well?

  3. kimmy gebhardt

    I was prescribed OT and PT as part of my after-radiation care for lymphedema and to keep scar tissue from taking over. Both of those therapists had to do monthly evaluations so that insurance would continue to cover it. I was released from OT (that was for lymphedema) when the therapist decided that they had done all they could for me. I still have my PT because the massage and stretching that she does for me is still beneficial to my well being and because my radiation oncologist re-prescribed it for me. Long story short (too late!), if they graduated him, it’s likely because they feel that they have done all they can and taught him all the tricks they have to help him deal with the reason OT was originally prescribed. It is also very possible that insurance has cut him off because the therapist told them that there is nothing further to be done. I’m not saying it’s okay or that I agree with it, but from my experience OT is about giving people the tools they need to help themselves.

    1. Kim,

      OT for kids is completely different than it is for adults. Everything is play based and I believe it’s a speciality. My sister has a PhD in physical therapy but would not be qualified to to PT for special needs kids.

      OT helps to manage things like sensory related needs, learning to manage their own bodies, and strengthen their bodies to sort counterbalance very low muscle tone. In many cases, this is something that is needed long term, because many of these struggles never go away. Some kids may age out, but this is not a short term thing like it is for adults.

  4. Mindfulmon

    They sometimes “graduate” or conclude therapy when the individual has received max benefits. It means that while everything is not resolved this particular therapeutic venue is no longer beneficial and that the individual has received the most they can. It can is supposed to prevent people from being billed for years of therapy where the benefits have been maximized.
    In the same vein as some other responders, conclusion of treatment is not abrupt. There are service plans and treatment goals that give detailed explanations, regular testing and evaluations are also required. This is continuity of care and carries a liability for the provider, they usually cover it well.

    1. Your certainly not wrong. Insurance isn’t a problem, but finding qualified occupational therapists that work with special needs kids is. That may be part of the problem. The demands far exceed the resources available.

      Like I said previously, this could also be the typical break for summer but it wasn’t discussed before hand. I know be can be reevaluated in the fall, but I honestly don’t know what happened this time around.

      Normally, we sit down and discuss whether or not we want a break for the summer, to which we usually say yes. This time around, he was working with a peer, in more of a group setting. When the group ran its course, which was apparently 8 weeks, that was it. My understanding was that this was a temporary thing and he would revert to his previous sessions, but the end of the peer group coincided with the end of the school year.

    2. Two things. I meant to type you’re instead of your. It’s an autocorrect thing. Secondly, Gavin was graduated from speech this year, and you’re right, they were unable to help him anymore than they already had. Is Gavin doing better with speech and language? Not even close, in fact it’s worse, but what he has wrong can’t be fixed.

      This was not the same case with Emmett and OT

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