Today's post comes courtesy of my day-long team planning day at work today. Something we discussed in length was the setting of goals, and how on earth should this be done.
It is more complex than you think.
I can clearly remember therapists asking me when they first came out to meet me and Ryley that question that I couldn't seem to answer "So, what are your goals"or "What are you wanting me to help you with?".
I used to stammer and stutter and say "Um..I'm not really sure".
What I felt like saying was: "Can you please just tell me what I need to do so that he can start reaching his milestones and appear to be a normal boy?".
It always embarrassed me that I couldn't give a definite answer. I wanted him to enjoy life, and not be forced into positions that weren't comfortable, or made to do things he didn't want to do, regardless of how they helped him develop. But at the same time, I wanted to know how to help him (and some part of me wanted someone to tell me I was actually doing ok).
So how do you set goals for your child?
A good professional will ask about what your child's strengths are first. They will ask what they like and what they don't like. They will probably suggest an assessment to see where they are at. They should discuss this with you, explain things, answer your questions. You should be then be able to identify where to start in terms of therapy. And then maybe, just maybe you can start to set some goals.
Of course, you may already know what you want your child to achieve. That is great! But often there are steps that need to be achieved first, so it is a matter of being really clear about what those steps are.
Again, team effort between you and the therapist will help make this work.
Now that Ryley is at school, I find it a lot easier to set goals for him. I have goals that we work on here at home, that sometimes overlap with school. The key for us has been never setting time limits. We believe that Ryley can achieve anything he wants to. But it is in his own time. No amount of therapy will ever make it happen faster. I will never forget the day Ryley started crawling. He was 2 years and 2 months old. He had never once shown that he was ever going to crawl. He would always roll everywhere or sit. Then one day he decided to crawl to his Poppa.
Ryley just did it when he was ready.
A bit like the walking thing. Ryley had never had a little brother for motivation before. All of a sudden here was his brother starting to walk around. Suddenly Ryley decided he too could do that. So he did. Despite us working on walking for 7 years!!
So we will always set goals for him. Sometimes it really helps having a professional help you with it though!
How do other find goal setting? Hard? Easy? As a professional, I find that families do have trouble identifying specific goals at times. But find that once they start talking in terms of the strengths of their child, the impossible can sometimes become the possible through goal setting. What do you think?