By Wendy Harron - February 28, 2012
When will he show improvement?
I have many parents ask me right away – “How long until we see some improvement?” or “What should I look for?” In my experience, this is very unpredictable. Some of the patients who I see who I think will do really well, take much longer to show improvements and others who have more difficulty make progress more quickly. But it also sometimes happens in the opposite way.
Sometimes the children who have the most difficulty have the furthest to go – so improvement may seem to come more quickly. Sometimes its easier to see even the littlest thing – like they were able to feed themselves an entire meal instead of throwing their food or spoon – are much more obvious. In other situations, especially with my patients who have more of the ADHD/ADD type symptoms we need to look more closely at what they are doing and how they are doing it. I especially see progress first in these patients during homework time. That is when I hear that they are sticking with their homework longer or getting it done faster or even just that they can sit at their desk for 20 minutes at a time when before it was more like 5 minutes before they were up and running around or asking questions.
To answer the question of “how many sessions will they need before they start to show a change?” it’s difficult to say. Every patient whether they are a child or an adult is different. Response to the treatment varies. I have gotten reports from some parents after the first week! And others I hear nothing until the last day. Clinically, I tend to see progress in the clinic first. I get to see numbers that are measured in milliseconds. I have also found that children who complete home program activities are also the ones who are making progress more quickly.
What to look for? Well, I always tell my patients caregivers to just observe their child – see if anything seems different to them and then to let me know. I love it when a parent says to me “ I don’t know if this has to do with IM, but my child will now get up in the morning, brush their teeth and come down to breakfast with out me constantly telling them what to do.” Or a report from the teacher that goes something like “ Johnny is a different child these days, did he start taking medication? I have noticed that he is raising his hand in class, and has even made some friends this week!” To me these are all wonderful improvements! The functional impact of having good timing and strong neuro pathways is just amazing.
If you are doing IM sessions at home or in the clinic, and feel that you are waiting too long to see progress, my advice would be to take a step back and to really observe your child. Make sure you ask your therapist if there are more things you could be doing at home. Listen to teachers and family who are not with your child every day. They may be able to see some things that you haven’t. If you’ve been doing it for a while, maybe you need to take a short break and let the brain reorganize and process the information that it has been fed, and then press on again. It will all be worth it in the end!