Have all these therapists who are working to help my son In some ways I feel like Im running a business but I never went to business school Any suggestions

Managing your child's treatment program can be similar to running a business. You are the CEO, your therapy team makes up your employees, and your company's mission is to help your child. Like any business manager, you will need to manage your time effectively, setting priorities and goals, motivating your employees, making sure employees are compensated on a timely basis, and handling day-to-day concerns such as sick days, vacation days, and holidays.

Here are some tips I used to offer in my corporate seminars that can be extremely helpful in running a home therapy program and /or managing your child's treatment schedule.

- Organize. Business executives use palm pilots or organizers to plan their schedules. You can do the same. In addition, posting a schedule on the refrigerator or any other central place in your home can help you keep track of your child's time. Since most schedules stay the same on a weekly basis, you can draw up a simple schedule that begins like this.

Day Treatment/Activity Time Provider

Monday ABA session 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Laura

And so on.

- "Put first things first." That's what leadership expert Stephen R. Covey suggests. In other words, set your priorities. Your priorities change when your child is diagnosed; therefore, you need to manage your time differently. Learn to delegate. If you're in the habit of doing everything yourself around the house or staying late at work, you need to start assigning responsibilities to others or ask for help. Also, learn to say no; if you're used to saying yes to being on every committee or helping out

Speech therapy Lunch

Occupational therapy 1:00 p.m.-1:45 p.m. Debby every friend, accept the fact that you have other priorities right now. Be flexible and learn to roll with the punches. Sometimes unexpected things will come up: Your child is sick and misses therapy sessions, or your therapist has to cancel. Don't let these situations unnerve you. Let go of the feeling that the world will end if your child misses a treatment session. (I know this from personal experience. I used to get extremely upset if a therapist called in sick and would frantically call other therapists to fill in. I felt that Jake would experience some major regression if he missed even one session. Eventually, I realized that my stress level was adversely affecting my son more than his missed session.)

- Set goals and objectives. Meet with your child's therapy team to establish goals and ways to achieve those goals. In the corporate world, goals and objectives are revisited on a regular basis. You need to do the same thing when it comes to your child. Your therapy team should serve as a guide to establishing specific goals and objectives. Make sure they are realistic. A goal such as "My child will speak over the next few months" is not appropriate. A goal such as "my child will practice vocal imitations for X amount of time" is more appropriate.

- Work as a team. Some parents feel entitled to boss around their therapy team, while others relinquish their power and defer completely to the professionals. Neither of these strategies is effective. Work together with your team on a continual basis. Ask questions. Offer input.

- Motivate your employees. Your therapy team sees a lot of different children, and deals with a lot of stressful issues that come up on a daily basis. They are often exhausted and feel unappreciated. Show them respect. Let them know you care. Remember, the best way to reinforce a behavior is to reward it! A sincere "thank you," a holiday gift, or even a tin of cookies can go a long way toward keeping your treatment providers motivated to help your child.

- Make sure your employees are compensated on a timely basis. Your team will most likely be paid by your state agency or school district. Sometimes you'll need to follow up with the agency or district if payment is delayed. If you are paying out-of-pocket, make sure to pay as soon as possible after you receive your invoice. Delays in payment may affect your team's motivation.

- Discuss vacations, sick days, and holidays in advance. Different therapists will have different policies regarding compensation. Since agencies and districts abide by the local public school calendar, therapists are not paid for times when the schools are closed for holidays or vacations. If you want your therapists to work with your child during these times (and many parents do), you will have to pay them out-of-pocket. Some therapists will charge you for unused hours if you cancel for any reason but will not charge you if they are the ones who have to cancel. Discuss these issues in advance so that there are no surprises.

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