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Behavior vs. LD

Submitted by an LD OnLine user on

This is my first time sharing although I have read many posts on the different forums, and appreciate the support felt & knowledge gained from all I’ve read. I am quite frustrated at the moment, and feeling confused as a parent of my 7-year-old son who has dyslexia, dysgraphia & ADHD (all recently diagnosed.)

He was sent for OT for sensory processing issues as well as for assistance with handwriting. My frustation stems from the therapist’s manner of dealing with my son. She claims he has behavioral issues and is undisciplined. My son has been reduced to tears during each session with her as she is overly critical, and insensitive to his inability to sit still for too long. My son tries so hard with his handwriting yet it is extremely difficult for him. He is also quite sensitive, and beats himself up when he makes mistakes which is why I did not take kindly to the therapist’s berating of him when he did make a mistake. I homeschool my son, and now he is not wanting to do his work and/or says things like, “let’s just get it over with” plus cries when he realizes he has made a mistake.

I want my son to have a love for learning, and I strive to boost his self-esteem through praising what he does well instead of focusing on his difficulties. I know my son can use some additional discipline, and I’m not saying he doesn’t have some behavioral issues, however, I just think he deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. His feelings ought to matter, right?! I also took issue when she took away his privilege to swing on the therapy swing at the end of the session because he got up from his chair after he sat there for much longer than I ever thought he could.

I am choosing to leave this particular therapist as she cut me off repeatedly as I attempted to explain my opinion in this regard. She is very young, and the clinic where we go offered us another therapist, and said this happens all the time. How are things ever going to improve if all they do is switch kids from one therapist to another without addressing the underlying issue. Our kids are expected to adapt yet the adult is not? I do not get this yet I am questioning my own part in all this, and want to make sure I am not being overly protective of my son. I appreciate any feedback, and mainly needed to vent in a safe place. Thank you for listening.

Submitted by eoffg on Sun, 05/19/2013 - 11:36 AM


Hi Karen and welcome to the forum,

It was disturbing to read of your son’s experience with this OT, or rather ot.
Where perhaps the greatest concern, is the damage that she has done to him?
Where being criticized and berated, when he is trying as hard as he can?
Will often damage one’s attitude to putting in extra effort and trying a bit harder? If the reward is to be criticized and berated. Which seems to have now effected his school work.
Also the ot taking away the privilege of going on the therapy swing, because he got up from his chair?
Raises a serious question about the knowledge and skills of the ot?
‘Sitting still’, is not a simple activity, but actually involves a whole myriad of muscles, that need to be held in a balanced state of tension. Otherwise we would just slump in our chair.
For people with motor difficulties, this requires a great deal of ‘mental effort’, as it doesn’t happen automatically.
So that being able to regularly stand up and walk around briefly, provides some relief from this.
Which any well trained OT, would fully understand.
An experienced OT, would also value your opinions, as this will provide them with a fuller understanding. This enables them to define a more effective therapy program.
But an ot that doesn’t want your opinions?
Suggests that they have a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and little real understanding and knowledge?

Though perhaps the best that can be salvaged from this, is to use it as an introduction to ‘self-advocacy’?
Where he has right to be treated with kindness and respect.
So that he can assert his right to be able to get up from his chair.
Also when people criticize him for making mistakes? Rather than taking it personally, that he takes a view of respecting their ignorance.
So that importantly, their criticism doesn’t undermine his motivation and effort.

Submitted by Karen on Sun, 05/19/2013 - 7:13 PM


I cannot thank you enough for your response and feedback! It helps to be validated, and know I am not alone with how I was thinking and feeling. I also like what you shared regarding taking something positive away from the experience, and what both myself and my son can learn from it. I look forward to sharing more on this forum, and just want you to know how much you have helped me today. I was feeling so defeated from this experience, and second-guessing myself as a mother as these issues are new for me to deal with. You have reminded me how I must be an advocate for my 7-year-old son who also has speech issues, and has difficulty expressing himself. He tends to lose his voice when he gets frustrated, and the last thing I want is for him to retreat into himself again. Thanks also for welcoming me to this forum.

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