2021 marks our 20thanniversary as a practice at A Total Approach. What a milestone! It started as an idea to be involved in the lives of 20 autistic kids, though has evolved into several different branches of assessment and intervention, including Autism, Dyspraxia, Reading and Learning Differences, ADHD/executive Functioning, and Attachment / Trauma family support. I thought then that A Total Approach meant working across different environments such as school, home and center, but now know it has become so much more for children and families. We have been through many celebrations, trials, as well as very difficult times, including the current pandemic, though we still manage to survive and some years, thrive! I will admit that there were times Charl and I wanted to give up and move to different grounds, but in my reflection today, I know that this is what is meant to be. I remember many therapists in whom we invested so much time and funding, only to have the call of motherhood pull them away. Of course, we wish them well, but oh, to start all over again, time and time again! I am so grateful to those who are still with us since those early years, Angela, Anne, Janine and others since then. We have truly created a unique experience for families. Some call it their “one stop shop”, though we smile and know how much we need our colleagues in other disciplines to form a village around our children.

And yes, for a little while in their lives each child is a part of our lives as we think, plan, and work together for each child to become the best versions of themselves they could be! Each time a child did not progress as expected, we invested in more training, more research and more books so we could understand what piece of the puzzle we may be missing. I have each of those children to thank for being able to open the Maude Le Roux Academy so we could teach others what we learnt. So much to feel grateful for. Whenever I feel down, perhaps going through one of our difficult times, I feel lifted up by testimonials such as this recent one below.

“How do I love A Total Approach? Let me count the ways!

My 9year old 4th grade daughter has had some school challenges off and on since the beginning. However, she always made enough progress to not really raise any red alarm bells. As she grew older, I could see her frustration level grow with her. If she could answer any question orally, she’d be an A+ student, however, with each passing grade year, the expectations to communicate thoughts in writing became higher and higher. She was reading on grade level, and could do math in her head at an exceptional level, and again, could provide strong and detailed answers to questions orally, but this simply didn’t translate into strong written output. She struggled to align the numbers correctly for math equations, and would often get an answer wrong due to misalignment. Her handwriting was atrocious as she seemed to have no awareness of the lines and margins on wide ruled paper, and her spelling was not the best, there were even letter and number reversals. This all felt a little scary to me as a parent, and her struggles were starting to impact her self-esteem and confidence. Enter ATA. They offer a thorough evaluation that will clearly identify the challenges, as well as an action plan to remediate. We learnt that our daughter was missing some key foundational skills that so many other academic skills need to be built on. Following just one intensive, and weekly OT sessions, there were obvious and measurable results. Our daughter could align numbers correctly, her print went from large and sloppy to much smaller and neater. She showed an awareness of lines and margins within which she was mostly able to keep her writing within. I can’t remember the last time I saw her reverse a letter or number, and she rarely makes a calculation error as a result. Her stamina to write has grown exponentially, as well as her ability to add details to her thoughts. She is more organized in keeping track of her school work. Most importantly, her output is starting to match her strong intellectual ability, and her confidence and self-esteem are recovering as a result. Going to ATA was an investment in my child’s well-being and future!”

For us, for me, it is all about the child’s function and yes, over the years our adult client numbers have risen as well. It does feel great to be able to provide a family with new hope, new understanding of their child and each time a child succeeds, we celebrate with them even as we are sad to say goodbye. Yes, our therapies are intense and it is not your every-day practice of once per week therapy for the next 5 to 10 years. No, we base our programs on neuroplasticity research which clearly states that high intensity, high frequency intervention changes the brain and we have countless families now that can attest to this. As intense as it is for families, it is as intense for us in our ability to maintain the kind of training and scheduling we need to do to keep it all going. So much easier to be practice of only once per week therapy. Each time we do not have an intensive scheduled it requires 10 to 20 hours of therapists being paid, even as we receive no income. The financial burden weigh heavy at times.

But each time I walk in the waiting room and see a child smile, or walk down the hallways and hear kids laugh from their bellies, or see a parent cry tears of joy, I know deep down that this is all worth it. That this is exactly what I was meant to do, create change that will last. I am humbled by so many kids and families that have trusted us over the years and for them I say thank you!!

Because of you, I am a better therapist, ………..and a better person.