Occupational therapy (OT) is a health profession that helps people with various disabilities achieve independence in all areas of their lives. When C was in nursing school, her OT friends would say, “A PT (physical therapist) will teach you how to walk and an OT (occupational therapist) will help you get those dancing shoes on!”
If your child sees an occupational therapist, it’s important that you have a good working relationship with the therapist and understand the goals and expectations for your child’s progress. This is a list of ten questions you might find useful to ask your child’s occupation therapist.
- What are your credentials?
There is no shame in finding out more information about the practice your physician or insurance company has referred you to. Depending on where you live, you might not have many options for providers. All states have a website where you can verify up to date licensure status and other information. Click here to see a list of state licensure boards for occupational therapy.
- What kind of experience do you have working with clients with sensory processing disorder?
Knowledge and experience can vary greatly from therapist who have worked in the field for many years all the way to new graduates. Don’t discount lack of experience for lack of results. Your child’s therapist should be able to speak clearly about the types of services they have helped to provide and maybe even some general client outcomes. Remember, everyone’s experience and improvement will be different.
- How will my child be evaluated?
In general, an occupational therapy evaluation will include assessing the following:
- gross motor
- fine motor
- visual motor
- visual perceptual
- daily living and sensory processing skills
Therapists may use a variety of standardized and non-standardized assessment tools, interview parents and teachers, and observe children in a clinical setting.
- What is the therapy plan?
After your child’s assessments have been completed, the occupational therapist will create a therapy plan with activities to promote a variety of skills such as: Distal Finger Control, Eye-Hand Coordination, Fine Motor Control, Hand Dexterity, In-hand Manipulation, Pincer Control, Tactile Perception, and Visual Motor.
- How long will my child receive therapy?
- How much will the occupational therapy sessions cost?
The answers to these 2 questions is largely dependent on your insurance plan, baseline assessment findings, and recommendations from a variety of providers. There are usually limits on how many sessions a child can receive or how long the sessions can be. But don’t let those limits stop you from getting the help your child may need. Ask if discounts are provided for cash payments or pre-paying for sessions. Also ask if the practice works with any non-profit organizations that might be able to provide some financial assistance.
- Can you explain what this task or activity is for?
- Can I do these activities at home with my child?
Since the amount of time your child can work with an occupational therapist might be limited, having an understanding of the different activities and exercises your child is engaged in is beneficial. Knowing how to help your child perform these activities can help reinforce the therapy sessions and decrease sensitivities. Research has shown that frequent repetition is needed to make brain and behavioral changes.
- Do you have any recommendations for additional reading materials or support groups?
As a health care professional, occupational therapists are up-to-date on some of the newest research findings or techniques. They are also connected to other professionals who may have access to much needed resources for your child. Even if you get the same brochures over and over, it’s good to have a refresher and to be reminded that some help is available.
- Why isn’t my child doing… OR why is my child doing …?
It can be frustrating and depressing when your child may not be showing the progress you think they should. Express your concerns with the occupational therapist and see if any modifications might need to be made in the treatment plan and treatment goals. Keep in mind that therapy isn’t always about tangible results, but unlocking potential.