Should I continue my toddler's hated physical therapy?
November 18, 2010 10:24 AM Subscribe
Should I continue my toddler's physical therapy for lagging gross motor skills?
My 18 month old son has been getting physical therapy through our state's early intervention program for three months now. He was flagged at 12 months old for the therapy because he was crawling incorrectly and was having trouble pulling up to standing.
It took awhile to arrange his evaluation and he ended up starting to walk before they even came over to assess him. Nevertheless, he qualified to receive the services based on where his milestones had been at 12 months.
Now it's been three months and I wonder if we're seeing any benefits. He hates his physical therapist, won't let her touch him, and says "No no no!" when she arrives. She is not playful and has a no-nonsense persona, so I don't see her growing on him anytime soon. Sometimes she is able to coach me through the interventions from a distance, but some sessions he hides in another room while she tells me what to work on, and then I email her videos of him to show how his skills are coming. Looking through the videos, I seems to me that his improvements over these three months are modest. He crawls properly now; he walks steadily but still with a bit of a babyish gait; and he hesitates at thresholds and low curbs before stepping over them. (His communication and fine motor skills are good.)
I work on his skills every day, taking him to indoor gyms and outdoor playgrounds, playing games to encourage climbing and muscle building. I've spent hundreds of dollars on walker toys and ride toys and indoor climbing toys. He walks for blocks and blocks. The therapist agrees that he hasn't made any great strides towards catching up with his peers, but when I asked her what else we could do, she said, "If he would let me touch him, we could then increase services to weekly." (Currently, she comes every two weeks.)
His pediatrician, who had been the one to initially recommend we look into services, saw him yesterday and thought his walking was appropriate for having started at 15 months. When I said we have been working on stairs in PT, the pediatrician implied that we needn't be worried about his stair skills yet.
I don't want to negatively impact his development in any way, but I really wonder if the therapy is having any benefit. A part of me thinks it may be a racket -- just like back when I mentioned to my mental-health therapist that I felt finished, she wanted me to start coming twice a week.
One last detail is that my son is a chubby boy. He has been 100th percentile for weight (50th for height) since he was three months old. (There was a big weight gain in infancy, due, I think, to breastmilk oversupply, but since then his growth follows the curve, just across the top of the chart.). He weighs 32 lbs now, so certain gross motor skills are harder for him than they'd be for a lighter baby. The pediatrician has not told me to put him on a diet, but tends to recommend low-calorie foods like oatmeal and vegetable soup.
So, dear readers, I can:
1. Quit the therapy and continue working with my son on my own, but do I need the expertise of a therapist to notice things I'm not trained to see?
2. Request another therapist, in hopes that liking him/her would enable my son to get more out of the experience?
3. Restrict his diet (stricter portion control, cut out carbs), assuming that the key to his catching up is weight loss.
4. Chalk it up to natural differences in ability and just leave him be.