Overwhelmed and looking for help?
We've got you. If you are at the beginning of your journey everything can feel scary and confusing.
Let's take a look at some of the things you might need to understand along the way like definitions of different conditions, what each different therapist can help with and where to find one locally that can assist you.
We also have some tips on how to cope with the dreaded waiting list, how you can help your child from home and how you can stay calm during the diagnostic process.
Grab a cup of tea, take a deep breath, and let's begin.
Click here to read our disclaimer; basically, we are parents, not professionals.
How Can We Help?
Local Support in the Illawarra
It's hard to know just where to start. Click below to find a list of therapists and services we love in the local area. to help support all aspects of your family's journey.
The Waiting-List Wait
Do you feel as though life is rushing past while you can't seem to get off a wait-list?
We've all been there. Unfortunately, there aren't enough amazing therapists to meet the current demand.
Click below to find a few things you can do at home while you wait.
One of the most confronting aspects of diagnosis is that flood of realisation; How are we going to pay for all of this?
The good news is, there is help available, even if it can be a little complicated to access.
Who Can Help?
When you are ready to get help, it is important to know who you need to see and when. Below is a shortlist of some of the services we have engaged as parents, what they do and where you can find them locally in the Illawarra.
Psychologists have a wide variety of roles they can participate in. In general, most psychologists can be helpful in the assessment process and subsequent therapy for their clients. They can help support organisational or social changes in your child's life and promote a deeper self-awareness of feelings. Some psychologists will refer patients additional providers for diagnostics, such as a developmental paediatrician. While a Psychologist can assist with regulation from an emotional perspective an Occupational Therapaist can assist with regulation of the body.
An occupational therapist can help patients develop, improve, and maintain the physical skills needed for daily living. They can work with your child to improve body awareness, strengthen fine and gross motor skills as well as assist with body regulation. While their focus is mainly on the body, an OT can help your child to understand why their body feels a certain way and work through strategies to improve their coping skills when feeling out of control. A Psychologist can assist with regulation from an emotional perspective.
You may think this one is straight forward, however, a Speech Therapist can assist with much more than just speech issues. They can help with a multitude of concerns including social communication, Verbal and non-verbal communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders. Some speech therapists are also able to work with children with learning difficulties on memory recall and educational exercises.
When looking into a physical therapist, it may feel as though their role seems almost the same as an occupational therapist, however, the two can play two very different and necessary roles in your child's therapy. While your OT may assist with daily living skills, your Physical Therapist is more focus d on the general movement of the body. Whether assisting with injury or helping to build strength and improve function, a physical therapist can be helpful if your child has difficulty with movement.
This one is pretty straight forward. a Paediatrician is a doctor that specialises in children. They can help you with most physical, mental or behavioural concerns, or at very least, point you in the right direction.
It may sound the same but a developmental paediatrician is a doctor that specialises in children's behaviour, learning, development, and mental health issues. In many cases. It will be a developmental paediatrician that is required for diagnosis or medication prescription relating to mental health issues or behavioural concerns.
If you are concerned with your child's learning ability, a qualified educational consultant can assist with you the diagnoses and ongoing help your child may need for Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia. We will go through what each of those means in a minute. They can also assist with a wide variety of learning difficulties and special needs.
Once diagnosed with an educational disability or difficulty, such as dyslexia, a multisensory educator can assist in the tutoring of your child to teach them what they are missing in school the way they prefer to learn. often in a hands-on approach, this can be a great way for kids to understand concepts in their school curriculum that feel otherwise impossible to grasp. Even down to the writing of letters and structuring of words.
While you wait
What to do while you wait
We've been there, you're on a 12-month waitlist for therapy and have no idea what to do in between. Here are some suggestions on how to pass that time without loosing your mind.
Come and see us
One thing we have learned along the way is that the littlest things can make a big difference to kids with additional needs. If you are local, come on down to the Fairy Meadow store and have a look at some of the small, cost-effective therapy toys that might make life a little easier. Something as simple as wobble cushion for ADHD kids to take to school or a stress toy to keep anxiety at ease for others. Come in and have a chat during our business hours or if your child needs additional accommodations to come in when it's a bit calmer, contact us about making an appointment on Mondays and have the place to yourself.
Read, but not too much.
Reading can be the best way to find the answers to your questions however it can also feel very clinical and daunting. Knowledge is definitely power though it can also feel like a load on your shoulders that is too heavy to carry. Sometimes we find that taking in information over time can be the best way to even out the stress. After all, your child is no different from the one you know and love, you already know them better than any book will be able too. Read in moderation and join a support group until you know where things stand with the help of a therapist.
Talk about it.
Finding someone who knows what you are going through, even if it is just one person, can make the world of difference to how you cope with everything. If your family is not supportive of your journey, don't be discouraged from reaching out to others online. There are many fantastic forums and groups online that can be a good place to start.
Let your child be who they are.
In the beginning, it can sometimes feel as though there is always something you should be doing or fixing to help your child survive. The truth is, sometimes you just need to let them be who they are. If they like to spin, take them to a park that has a playground spinner. Even though they are behaviors that might look strange to others, helping your child to regulate themselves is a win. Instead of trying to get your child to stop rocking, ask them why it feels good and talk about where that comes from.
You might be on the waitlist now but once you get started in regular therapy you are going to need to be organised in order survive. If you have applied for funding you will need to keep paper copies of your invoices, balance budgets and handle all the logistics of your child's therapy. It's basically two full-time jobs. Find a computer program, spreadsheet or even an old fashioned ledger and stay on top of it from the beginning with dates, services, and amounts. Even if you don't have funding approved just yet, keeping clean records will help you if/when the time comes to seek assistance.