Wednesday, October 8, 2014

More Questions: Therapy and Educational Options

Time for another reader question to raise awareness for Spina Bifida! 

"What are your plans for school?  Will the school district help with Mason's therapies and equipment?"

This is something we've been talking about recently.  Mason receives his physical therapy through the Help Me Grow program right now.  Once a month they come to our home, show us what to work with Mason on, and answer our questions.  Then they leave us to do the day to day work ourselves.  When he turns 3 in January he will no longer be eligible for the program. 

We've had our very first discussions with Help Me Grow about transitioning Mason out of their program and more discussions are on the horizon.  They were shocked that we would not consider sending Mason to preschool so we could take advantage of free physical therapy and get him started on academics.  To be honest, this did not surprise me.  In our area it is unusual for any child not to attend preschool, but more so if your child could be doing speech, physical, or occupational therapy.  The entire Help Me Grow program is structured to make a seamless transition for the child from their program into the public school preschool programs.  As a homeschooling family we have not chosen to send our children out to a preschool program or to a public school for their education. 

For Mason this means two things.  First, we will seek out private physical therapy when needed.  We could drop him off at the school for therapy each week but we would not be welcome to participate nor would the school want us there.  To them we are a distraction. We prefer to know the exercises and activities the therapist does so that we can include them in our daily routine at home. Which is more effective?  1-2 hours of physical therapy a week or a daily physical therapy routine?  Obviously, the consistent daily effort is more effective.  Our plan is to seek a physical therapy provider who will help us develop a daily program addressing Mason's needs, then evaluate and adapt it as needed.

Mason's needs change.  Right now he cannot climb up the stairs.  Two months of wearing casts and not being allowed to climb has left Mason weaker.  A hip surgery has left him needing to learn new ways to climb as his leg now works differently.  Once a week therapy is the least effective way for Mason to regain the strength he needs.  One hour a week of helping him with a new climbing pattern will be ineffective.  He needs a daily workout, encouragement, and help practicing new climbing patterns.  We can do that at home!  Putting him in preschool isn't effective as he would still only have one hour at most of physical therapy a week.  The rest of the time he would be restricted to his wheelchair to do 'school work', exactly the opposite of what his body needs.

The original questioner also wondered about equipment.  The school district would not help with the cost of any equipment for Mason. We have to pay for equipment ourselves if insurance does not cover it.

The second aspect of the school question is the academics.  If you've read my other blog, Our Busy Homeschool, you have seen the rich opportunity homeschooling offers.  I know that homeschooling is the best option for our family.  Learning is a natural part of life and we treat it as such.  We do not believe that the 'one size fits all' educational model in our country is as effective as the personalized tutorial education homeschooling offers.  I truly think each family needs to do what works for them - be that private, public, or home education.  I'm grateful to live in a country where each family has options in the educational arena and the freedom to pursue them! 

Have you been enjoying these posts where I answer reader questions? If you have any questions related to Spina Bifida and it's effects on the whole family just ask! 


  1. Tristan, This is SO well said! Thank you for sharing! There have already been questions raised to us as well about not taking Eliza into the school system for therapy. Because we live in the country, I would drive 30 minutes one way for a 30 minute therapy session, which would not even be one-on-one with Eliza. Doing this at home is a no brainer!
    I LOVE reading through these questions and answers! Thanks for doing this!
    Do you have any other examples you can share about having to stand firm and be Mason's advocate? With doctors? Insurance?

  2. Are you aware of Jon Peterson scholarship? It is thru ODE and it is to help homeschool families. We are applying for if for speech and language.


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