Parents turn to online support to help with therapy for special needs children while staying at home

The nonprofit Pediatric Therapy Network in Torrance is helping teach parents to take a hands-on approach for therapy of their special needs children during the COVID-19 crisis.
TORRANCE, Calif. (KABC) -- Stay at home orders have forced many parents to take on the role of teacher. And for the parents of children with special needs, they're also taking on the role of therapist.

The nonprofit Pediatric Therapy Network is a Torrance-based nonprofit providing customized therapeutic care for children and young adults. It has turned to the internet to guide families through this challenging time. And that's proved to be a welcome resource for many families, including the Bennetts.

"Within a couple of weeks, the chaos of the closure of our second home, immediately came into our home. And it's stressful," said Jenny Bennett, mother to 7-year-old Bennett.

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The 24-year-old nonprofit is committed to helping patients reach developmental milestones. But it was forced to close when safer-at-home orders were issued back in March.

"We had to do our very best to figure out how we were going to provide services, and all of our services, as quick and as soon as possible," said Terri Nishimura, co-founder and CEO of Pediatric Therapy Network.

And they did. Home to more than 200 therapists, Pediatric Therapy Network upgraded services within a week to provide a virtual therapeutic model for all families. Now therapists are working with patients' families to administer care. Therapists have also created dozens of videos that parents and children can watch for free on the Pediatric Therapy Network YouTube channel.

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"Not all families have the ability or capacity to do it, but for those that are, I think it's really been a beneficial situation," said Nishimura.

Many parents have a newfound appreciation for the work the therapists do and their impact on these little lives. It's also empowering them to take a hands-on approach to their child's development.

"It is so empowering to have that opportunity to be with my son, when normally I let his therapists handle it and teach him all these things. And now it's my job and we have the time to do it now," said Bennett.

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