Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
For over seven years both my children on the Autism Spectrum have received various types of therapies. Most of the therapy sessions are conducted at a clinic with some home visits. Depending on the type of therapy there may not be a choice of room for the session. Other organizations have a multitude of rooms that are theme based for music, occupational therapy, feeding therapy, speech therapy, social skills and sensory based therapy.
At some point many parents will have the opportunity of observing therapy taking place through a two-way mirror. There is also the possibility that your child will be videotaped. These tapes are used for training other therapists at training sessions and perhaps other parents through seminars. The forms for consent would either be done at the assessment or the first session of therapy.
When Nicholas was still receiving speech therapy at the Hospital he went through a few therapists. The rooms were quite small with no mirror to observe leaving Matthew and I in the waiting room. On one occassion as the therapist went into the room with Nicholas I was surprised to see her wearing a red thong under white pants. I could not focus after that wondering what would possess a therapist to dress in that manner when working with children in a Hospital setting. Thankfully his therapy ended soon after since it had to go through the school district once he turned five.
At the same Hospital setting Matthew received both OT and Speech therapy services. The therapists at times co-treated and I was part of the sessions. These were the therapists that were pushing for Matthew to get a g-tube, which led to our switching therapists and locations.
A few times they brought in a videotape to record Matthew in the room. So much time was wasted with the Therapist trying to figure out how to use the recorder. When she was not working the recorder she was adjusting her pants so her underwear would not show and then pulling down her shirt in back to cover up a tattoo.
Most of the time therapists dress appropriately, but I have noticed time and again that the younger therapists dress in tight jeans, low cut shirts and jewelry that seems out of place when working with children on the Autism Spectrum and other disabilities.
I wonder if they view the videotapes to see how they come across to parents and other professionals within the community. Therapists do activities with children that require bouncing around, hopping and spinning around on swings. Whenever you are in the gyms you have to remove your shoes before getting on the blue mats. I have seen therapists with ankle bracelets on that could easily get caught on something.
Even though a therapist might work for a company, they should care about how they present themselves, because parents can switch therapists and move to other clinics that provide similar services. A match between the child and therapist is crucial, otherwise it is a waste of time for all involved.
We have lucked out over the years with most of our therapists making a connection with my children. It is upsetting when they change companies leaving the parent to find another suitable match. Sometimes you have a therapist working with the child while a new one is being recruited, so the relationship has to start over again learning about the child.
The first speech therapist we had was for an assessment. I did not like her report criticizing me and had a hard time understanding her with a foreign accent. I requested a different therapist before starting sessions. The replacement therapist called me on the phone and we got to know one another beforehand.
Both Nicholas and Matthew had speech services with her for a year or longer before she left to work farther away. She worked so well with each of my sons that I preferred them having back to back appointments instead of having another therapist treat them both at the same time affording me some alone time in the cafeteria.
The next speech therapist was just as wonderful, but a year later she moved to Italy and then the flopw was broken with no one able to make a connection with my children. The therapists through the school district have been good matches also. The school personnel tend to over dress, but they also attend meetings throughout the day.
Next month we will be starting Floor Time therapy, which will either take place at our residence or at the clinic. I would rather it start at the clinic since they have the two-way mirrors and supervisors that can help guide us along before working at home.
I am hoping we have a good match with the Therapist and that the person can learn to read Matthew's cues and non-verbal communication. I tend to form an opinion based on first impression and will be looking at how the person dresses. There is nothing wrong with piercings and tattoos, but for someone working with a child that is sensitive to distractions, having tattoos visible and piercings on their nose and tongue could possibly set the child off and start a boatload of questions.
Even though many on the Autism Spectrum may be in their own world and not aware of the clothing their therapists are wearing, those working with them in their professional capacity need to wear clothing that covers their body and not be making a fashion statement.
I would request another Therapist before having one who dresses inappropriately working with a member of my family.
Standards of Professional Attire