Mental health is at a peak for our children and navigating therapeutic services can be a daunting task. So daunting that many people just push the passing thought aside and hope that the behavior potentially needing therapy subsides on its own. Very often, this is not the case.
I have been very open about our journey navigating my own child’s therapies that I am often asked, “Where do I start?” If you are asking that question, you’ve already started. You have taken the first step in helping your child and accepting that it is OK to ask for help.
Identify the Challenges
First, identify the challenges. What is the challenge your child is facing? Take some data. Going into appointments with hard data is so advantageous and can really speed up the process in identifying the best plan of action. Examples of data collection: Does it happen daily, multiple times a day? Is it around meal time? What happened before the behavior occurred? Triggers? How are they sleeping?
Determine Type of Therapy Your Child Needs
Once you have identified the main issues with your child’s pediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist, you can begin to decipher what type or types of therapy your child would benefit from. Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Talk Therapy, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, Psychotherapy, Equine Therapy, and more. Many of these therapies are offered through our local Children’s Hospital or you can go through private practices. Below are a few local therapy providers.
- Playabilities offers ocupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy. They offer services from newborn to adolescent with individualized plans. My daughter has done OT here for several years, and we have really seen progress as she has gotten older and developed a rapport with the therapists. They have two locations, Prairie Village and Leawood, Kan.
- Kansas City Developmental Therapies: KCDT offers a play-based approach to pediatric speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, developmental therapy, physical therapy and academic support that focuses on relationships. My daughter currently does play/talk therapy here, and it has truly helped in her emotional processing and identifying how to work through her feelings in a more appropriate and controlled manner. They offer two locations in Kansas.
- KC Behavior Project focuses on giving loads of tools to support families and tiny tots from first diagnosed with autism through age 6. They have 1:1 services for autistic children with play based therapy.
- Bringing Therapy Home offers speech, occupational and music therapies as well as special education. BTG offers individualized therapy plans that focuses on relationship-based approaches. They have locations in Overland Park and the Northland.
- KidsTLC offers many types of therapy for children and families experiencing mental and behavioral health challenges, developmental trauma, and autism. They have onsite living programs, daily programs and family support. Their campus is located in Olathe, Kan.
- The Children’s Place specializes in trauma-responsive care for children as Kansas City’s specialized trauma treatment agency. The Children’s Place provides four distinct programs to offer a holistic continuum of care and a multi-disciplinary approach to mental health healing.
- Joshua Center for Neurological Disorders has social skills classes for children with Tourette, OCD, Anxiety, High Functioning Autism and ADHD. They also offer summer camps, family counseling and other support groups. They are located in KC, MO.
- KC:PCIT, Parent Child Interaction Therapy is a very beneficial therapy. It is a lot of work on the parent end, but can truly change your relationship with your child. We went through this program when our daughter was 3.5 and still use many of the tools today. We also use the parenting tools with our neurotypical children as well.
- Simply Equine Assisted Therapy and Due West Ranch are both equine therapy programs in Kansas City. The waitlists can be long to get in but the benefits are well worth it. I truly believe this alternative to traditional therapy is one of the best therapies we have ever done. It has been so special watching her learn to take care of another animal, learn how to control herself and her emotions, give demands or experience the frustration of when the animal doesn’t listen, overcoming anxieties and bonding with the horses. I highly recommend these programs.
In addition to therapy, don’t forget to reach out to your child’s school. Many behaviors are not only at home and are prevalent within the classroom. Your child may qualify for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or a 504 plan. There are many services available within the school system, you just have to advocate for them.
It is important to have a united front from your therapists, teachers and parents when truly having an impact on your child’s progress. We have had several of my daughter’s therapists over the years observe her in the classroom to identify areas to work on. Our therapists have worked with her teachers to develop plans and tools for her to be successful in the classroom.
Therapy may be the most important thing you do for your child and early intervention is imperative. If you think your kiddo may benefit from it, trust your gut and take the first step.