As a parent of a child that has some signs of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or already has a diagnosis, you may need to find an occupational therapist. Depending on the child's condition, you might also need a physical therapist, pediatric speech-language pathologist, and other health care services.
If you're looking for therapeutic support for your kid, check out these tips on finding an OT below.
What a Good Occupational Therapist Should Have
Dedicating to find an occupational therapist for your child is very important. Like all other professionals, OTs have different levels of experience, education, training methods, philosophies, and personalities.
The best OT for your kid is one that fits the needs of your child. This should be someone they like, get along with, and have a connection with. It's also crucial that you choose an OT who follows the effective treatment methods.
These methods include the following:
Provides a Direct One-To-One Treatment
This should be done in a sensory-rich setup that has all the required equipment that provides a variety of sensory opportunities.
Carries out a Diagnostic Evaluation
It's essential that you know all the details of the diagnosis before treatment. If there is some medical jargon you don't understand, ask for clarification.
Treats a Parent as a Major Individual of the Diagnosis
This is not the typical five minutes after treatment with doctors. As a parent, you deserve more than that. Choose an OT who gives you an opportunity to learn and understand your child's condition, and don't shy away from asking for feedback.
Provides Documentation of Post-Treatment
Testing is essential so that everyone knows what's working and what's not on your way to goals. In many cases, OTs who are good with pre-treatment offer the required post-treatment results.
Provides Intensive Care
An OT who's available to treat your child for two to three days a week is better than the one who only shows up once a week. Although it's possible to monitor health changes in a week, frequent treatment leads to faster neurological changes as well as positive behavior change.
Use Play and Success
This helps with the healing process and boosts the kid's self-esteem. In a friendly OT center, children think they are just playing. If your child is crying during their sessions, your OT should have the skill of appropriately redirecting and de-escalating them with success.
Utilizes Purposeful Sensory Stimulation
This is especially crucial when working on 'occupations' such as dressing, eating, social-participation, and playing with others.
Find an occupational therapist who asks questions about you and your family to get the best treatment options for your child. Don't hesitate to ask questions yourself.
If there are some things that your OT is doing that you don't understand, ask for an explanation. If your OT isn't answering these questions, it might mean that they aren't qualified enough and have answers, which is a big red flag.
Listens to You
It's crucial that your OT listens to you and believes in the potential of your child to improve. The results of OT are functional changes that you, the kid's teacher, and everyone can see clearly. If your child would do better in a special school, consider getting an OT to help them during school hours.
Questions to Ask an Occupational Therapy Before Settling
When you need to find an occupational therapist for your kid, keep in mind that not all OTs are trained to deal with children with Sensory Processing Disorder. Every OT is different, and some may have specific specialties.
If this is something you are looking for, it's vital that you ask your prospects the following questions to decide whether they are a good fit or not.
- Are you a certified OT by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy?
- Do you have any specific training or experience in dealing with kids with Sensory Processing Disorder? If yes, how did you acquire the knowledge? (was it by attending a professional school or getting a degree?).
- Have you ever had a mentor who is an expert in offering OT for sensory processing disorder?
- How many years/how much experience do you have working with kids with sensory processing disorder or any other kind of development problems?
- Are you certified or trained in using equipment that is used to treat children with SPD?
Beyond the Treatment Directory
Check the local treatment directories and look online for occupational services. If the treatment directory doesn't include an OT near you, here are some ideas:
- Call the nearest hospital and request to speak with the person in charge of the rehabilitation or OT department.
- Find a university near you that teaches OT, and ask to talk with the faculty that teaches SPD treatment, pediatrics or assessment. You can find an approved university in the American Occupational Therapy Association's (AOTA) site.
- Check the AOTA site for the Occupational Therapy Association and the AOTA Specialist Directory lists.
Sometimes you might not find an occupational therapist specializing in helping kids with SPD. If you find yourself in that situation, here are some things that you can do.
Ask Other Parents
If you've exhausted a few resources already then it might be time to turn to good old word-of-mouth. Ask other special needs parents in your circle if they can recommend any services. See if they have any trusted peers that have gone through the same experience you have and have information.
This can cut down on your search time.
Do You Need to Find an Occupational Therapist for Your Child?
Nothing is more critical than the health of your child. Therefore, it's important that you put in the required effort to find an occupational therapist for them.
Having an OT that shares your goals and cooperates with you to help your child will give you the desired results. Keep on searching until the right person comes into you and your family's lives.
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