The Other Side of the Screen
By Jen Stornelli, OTR/L
March 2020 was a pivotal month for all of us. As therapists, we were thrown into a world of virtual therapy many of us hadn’t even dabbled in before. But there we were. Fumbling through, trying to find a way to help our patients without access to our usual tools; without the benefit of physical proximity; without any control over the treatment environment which was now our patients’ kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, and back yards. We saw our patients bolt from the room, heard the family dog barking in the background, spotted the sibling walking off with the treatment materials, and listened to the sound of apologetic parents scurrying to readjust the laptop and round up their child to “complete the session”.
Recently though, I found myself on the other side of the screen. My one year old started Early Intervention and there I was in the first virtual session pulling out a Fisher Price ring stand as the session began- except now it was MY living room, MY barking dog, MY child banging on the laptop keyboard and then shuffling out of view. The laptop screen needed to be adjusted but I couldn’t reach it because I needed two hands on the baby who was now cruising along the coffee table extending her hand toward a scrappy chew toy that belonged to the dog, who had just run off with the ring stand. Now I was the one apologizing. And I thought to myself, “This is hard”.
Its been one week since that first virtual session and I’ve reflected a lot on that as both therapist and mom. As a therapist, my message to parents is this: We are here to support you. Period. We are not here to ensure that the five pre-planned objectives get met within the 30 minutes allotted. Those are just to guide us. Everything and anything that happens on that Zoom visit helps us learn more about your child and in so doing allows us to better support them and you. As a mom, my message lies here: You are doing a great job, and you are not alone. This is not easy but keep showing up. We’ll get there. Our kids are all amazing in their own way… and so are you!
For more information, please contact one of our Pediatric Outpatient sites.