Therapy is Not a Child’s Love Language.
Therapy is not a child’s love language. Guest blogger Heather Braucher discovered this during a therapy-intense season in the lives of her sons with special needs. In today’s post, she describes how a more laid-back season helped her identify the love languages of all her children
When we returned to the US from living overseas, we were in a state of great need. We needed rest and respite. We needed time to process all that had taken place and time to figure out what to do next. With new and significant medical diagnoses driving our return to the US, I made it my main priority to identify the special needs of my children and leave no stone unturned to meet them.
However, the pandemic began simultaneous to the launching of my mama-bear efforts. Therapies became virtual only. The shutdown directly impacted my ability to meet the needs of my boys and I took it personally.
I felt like my attempts to love them well were being threatened.
This only fueled the fire within me. When things started to open back up and return to “normal,” I went full speed ahead. I felt called to a season of provision and sacrifice. That season was necessary and it was fulfilled.
But it took everything I had to do so.
Hours in the car, driving to doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, and private school. Endless hours on the computer filing reimbursements and claims to insurance companies. Applying for scholarships and grants. My mind was consumed by these concerns even when we weren’t at an appointment or a therapy session.
My desire to “love my boys well” by meeting their needs kept me going even when those sacrifices and efforts took a great toll on us all. In hindsight, I believe it was absolutely worth it, but I also feel like I missed out on other aspects of our mother and child relationships.
It became important for me to allow our lives to consist of seasons.
This is something I am still embracing. I am learning that there is a time and place for seasons, for allowing finite statements that are less permanent and for providing room for everyone to change and grow.
I sensed a change in seasons when summer came, and we slowed down on therapy sessions due to conflicting travel schedules and the therapists being out of town. Though that was the justification, I battled the thought that I was not loving my boys well without regular therapy sessions.
The difference between love and therapy got blurry. Until I saw what my kids had learned in therapies showing up in daily life.
They were generalizing social skills and tools they had learned without any prompts from a therapist. Their previous interventions, communication, and medicinal support were providing stability.
These moments provided me with the assurance that I, as their mama, had answered the call. My children were learning, growing, and maturing. The efforts were not in vain.
These moments also assured me that the current time I was spending with them was just as valuable as therapy. This unexpected season of rest from intensive medical care allowed for spending more time getting to know them beyond their special conditions. It felt like we were in the first years of my sons’ lives again, discovering their unique personalities with every interaction.
In the foreword of Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families by Gary Chapman and Jolene Philo, Jolene said, “I spent years learning about my son’s disabilities, but knowledge about his conditions was not the language of love.”
I resonated so much with that statement, because in this new season I was learning the love language of my special needs children. I was identifying what makes them feel whole and connected when it comes to their relationship and interactions with us. And I was learning that therapy is not a child’s love language.
In Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families, Philo shares that “Children with special needs require frequent assurance of their parent’s unconditional love to keep their tanks full.”
Chapman continues with, “When children feel loved and their love tanks are full, they will be more receptive to parental guidance in all areas of life.”
I am so grateful for this renewed awareness and opportunity to focus on making deposits into their love tanks. Why? Because, before diagnosis, a special needs parent’s life is filled with concern and worry. They have a gut feeling that something is off. Their child has needs that they cannot meet. They are observing, comparing, researching, and desperately waiting for the greatly anticipated opportunity to get in with the doctor or specialist.
If you had told me four years ago that I would be living in a post-diagnosis and post-intervention season, I would not have believed you. This season does not mean that all is fixed and all is solved when it comes to caring for our sons with special needs. It has allowed my mind to continue studying my children, just in a different way.
I am learning their love languages and how to meet them. Coincidentally, I have three children and all three of them have Words of Affirmation as their main love language*. That’s a lot of love that I missed out on while focusing on their tangible needs only.
I do not share that out of guilt or condemnation. On the contrary—I am excited to pour love out on them in this specific way in this season and beyond!
You do not have to wait for a season to identify and meet your special needs child’s love language. In Sharing Love Abundantly, Chapman and Philo teach us how to discover and speak our children’s love languages wherever they are in their developmental journey!
*The Five Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service, and Receiving Gifts. You can identify your love language and the love language of those in your life here.
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Heather Braucher is a member of the “Braucher Bunch” aka her energetic family of 5. The bunch includes her husband and their three children, all of whom are dominant and extroverted and are going to change the world (if she can keep them alive!) She has always held a passion for writing, but motherhood has given her a reason to share her experiences, heartaches, and victories with others. In her writing you will hear stories of hope as well as grief, as her family has navigated life in ministry in the US and overseas, all while discovering that 2 of her children have special needs. Her desire is to provide others with connection, understanding, encouragement and laughter, all washed with the love of Christ.
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