Pulling Your Child From School for Therapy: Weighing the Benefits
For many, this may sound like a crazy proposal. After all, most students just transitioned back to school after having a year of remote learning. Pulling your child from school sounds like the last thing you’d want, right? But, before you click away, we encourage you to hear us out!
As with everything, consistency is key. Therapy is not excluded from this. During the summer, many families adjust to a different schedule, transiting to appointment slots during the morning or early afternoon as they no longer have the time constraint of school. This works beautifully for them during those select months. However, when school starts in September, families often have difficulty making those appointment times work and begin looking for later availability. While we do our best to be flexible and arrange appointment times to the best of our ability, the challenge that we face as a clinic (and holistically as private therapy service providers) is that there are only so many late appointment slots to go around. So, what should you do?
Unfortunately, many families choose to be added to a waitlist, pausing therapy until there is later appointment availability. This puts a hold on their child’s progress and intervention indefinitely. Time ticks by and we lose valuable windows for intervention. Learn more about the value of early intervention here:
https://ectacenter.org/~pdfs/pubs/importanceofearlyintervention.pdf . While our therapists do their best to provide recommendations for activities at home during these breaks, direct intervention is the most effective, and we often see regression in skills when patients take extended breaks. This is not the recommended route.
What many parents are not aware of is that missing school for therapy can be an excused absence! Yes, we meant what we said there! If your child is missing part of their school day due to a therapy appointment, it can be considered an excused absence, just as a doctor’s appointment would be. Missing school for therapy is often written into kids’ IEP or 504 plans as well. Learn more about IEP plans here: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/iep.html
Currently, we do have many families who choose to pull their child at a specific time from school in order to come to therapy. It looks different for each child- some patients schedule early morning appointments to arrive at school late, others are pulled at the end of the day, during lunchtime, P.E. or electives, and even during more concrete activities such as math period or reading. While all of these activities are important to your child’s development and overall participation in school, your child is likely having that activity each day during the week. Math period happens every day as does recess, reading block, etc. For many patients, their therapy session is only once a week. To put it in perspective, pulling your child from reading once a week for therapy intervention still allows them to have reading four more times that week. Because therapy is a scheduled weekly event, it also allows teachers more ability to plan around this excused absence. We also commonly collaborate with teachers and other school personnel, providing recommendations and assisting with participation and transitions in the classroom. This collaboration is valuable and increases your child’s ability to functionally engage in a classroom setting.
Please let us know if you have any questions regarding your child missing an allotted time at school for their therapy session, we are happy to collaborate and look forward to offering services to your family!