Does My Child Really Need All Of These Interventions?

I have been asked it more times than I can count. Does my child need these interventions?

A couple of years ago, I shared that we were getting a psychiatric service dog for my then 11-year-old son.

I have openly shared the different therapies and interventions we employ for both my sweet boys.

For six years, I have tried to explain, as best I can while still protecting some shred of my children’s privacy, the realities of our day-to-day life.

I am so grateful to say that we are learning to how to live and live well, despite so many diagnoses I don’t even list them anymore, in large part due to the treatment decisions we have made.

Since going public with our service dog story, I have been greatly encouraged to hear from other families who have done the same and with great results.  I have met many online moms considering the same option and trying to learn as much as possible.

And, inevitably, I also received the emails and comments that come every single time I share a new approach to my sons’ care, all asking the same, borderline accusatory question –

Does he really need it?

Does my really need all of these interventions?


Does My Child Really Need These Treatments, Therapies, and Interventions?

The short answer is, yes.

The much longer and more complicated answer is this…

He needs something. He is struggling and we need to help him as best we can. We never really know what therapies or which treatments will really help. It’s a bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.

And we, his parents, are not the only ones taking this approach. Ask any doctor or professional working with medically and psychiatrically complicated kiddos and they will tell you the same thing.

No one knows what will work from one child to the next.

So we just try one right after the other, until we find the right approach.

Do we need all these treatments, therapies and inventions? Austism, ADHD, anxiety disorder

Does He Need These Treatments, Therapies, and Interventions?

You just read my standard, “let me help you understand” answer.

But it’s a seriously misguided question at best. Totally accusatory at worst. 

The real answer to this question is this – 

No one would do this for fun.

No one would spend every last dime they have to get a service dog when they have never even liked dogs in the first place.

No one would endure countless questions, forms, more questions and then a little judgement thrown in from time to time, to work with a therapist that their insurance company is likely going to deny coverage for.

No one enjoys having to force their child into the phlebotomist’s seat for yet another blood test.

No one celebrates the attention they get when their child gains 25 pounds in five weeks because of a medication.

So yes, he needs it. Of course he does..

Do we need all these treatments, therapies and inventions? Austism, ADHD, anxiety disorder

The reality is, we are not even doing all the things that all the people tell us we need to do.

Speech therapy, physical therapy, educational therapy, further occupational therapy, and no less than three other prescription medications are all interventions that have been advised for my sons. For various reasons, including not enough hours in the day, we are not doing them right now.

We may at some point. We may not.

The decisions we make regarding my sons’ treatment plans are carefully considered and weighed against all the other interventions we employ. It is fluid. It changes based on progress, age, development, need and honestly, money.

We are doing the very best we can for these kids. It’s likely that we are messing it up. But it is the best we can do, given our circumstances. My son’s interventions are a part of this. 

Sometimes we have wonderful successes. Sometimes we have colossal failures.

But know this – we have never sat down at the end of the day and thought, “What else can we add to our plate? Let’s throw in another hour-long therapy shall we?”

Do we need all these treatments, therapies and inventions? Austism, ADHD, anxiety disorder

Does my son need these interventions?

Yes. He needs all of them and more, every single day.

I am grateful we can provide them and I am grateful we are seeing progress and real healing as a result of his treatment plan.

It’s why I share any of this in the first place. We have to help each other, share what is working, and encourage each other to keep trying. And more than any therapeutic approach, we need compassion, we need grace and we need to know we are not alone.

It’s true for my son and it’s true for his mom.

My guess is, it’s true for you too.

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  1. “We never really know what therapies or which treatments will really help. It’s a bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.” Yes, this is exactly what it’s like. We haven’t found anything with much sticking power yet. It’s a long, arduous process that you hope will be worth it in the end.

  2. I really don’t like it when people always second guess the parent’s decisions. As you say, no one would do this for fun. We are just trying to help our kids the best we can.
    You are doing a great job Shawna 🙂

    1. That’s very kind of you, Rachael. Thank you!

  3. Do to budget issues, I am considering getting a dog & training it at home to be a therapy/service dog for my autistic granddaughter. Has anyone heard of anyone doing this and/or where would I begin at it?
    Thank you,

    1. I have heard of it. I think you use outside trainers to come in for various behaviors. Now that we have Sammy, I could see it working well.

  4. Carolyn Huff says:

    I agree, such a rude question. I think people are being supportive by trying to let us as parents off the hook from having to do yet one more thing for our child, but what I find supportive, is actual support. I don’t want someone to tell me I’ve done enough, and it’s my time to relax knowing I’ve made a good effort. “Does he ‘reaaaallly’ need it? No offense, but you’ve already done a lot for him and maybe you just need to accept that there’s not more you can do.” Said a mom with a neurotypical child. I will never not keep looking for ways to enhance my child’s life, a process that is full of hoops to jump through, but which I will never stop, for the hope of helping him that much more. My son deserves a fair shot and I’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen. Thanks for the article, it has lit a fire in me this morning!

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