I remember watching tv shows and movies feeling becoming a parent is going to be magical. You think that when you bring your baby home and everything will go smoothly. But in reality, that is not what happens. I was not prepared for my emergency c-section followed by a child who had special needs.
Luckily, I am a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and was able to observe my child from a different point of view. I knew when he required Early Intervention to assist him with improving his skill level.
What do you do when your child needs an Occupational Therapist?
If you, a teacher, or your child's Pediatrician noticed that they need an Occupational Therapist how do you go about getting one? As a parent or caregiver, you want to find an Occupational Therapist who is the right fit for your child. Your child is an individual who requires a professional that can provide quality services to meet their needs. If your child has Sensory Concerns, make sure that the Occupational Therapist is able to provide Sensory Based activities. If your child has low muscle tone and fine motor skill delays, ask the therapist if they are able to address those concerns.
The Occupational Therapist you chose should be able to communicate their goals for your child and work with you to achieve those skills.
Depending on how old your child is and what their needs are, the time in which you see progress differentiates. Many parents will ask me, “How long before he/she makes progress?” Each child is different and therefore they take various times to achieve their goals. When a parent practices the skills taught to them by the Occupational Therapist and implements a home-based program to coincide with the sessions, progress is seen at a much more rapid rate. If a child is attending Occupational Therapy Sessions and there is a lack of carryover, the time to see progress will be delayed.
If your team works well together, you should see progress within a few weeks of starting therapy. I have seen huge gains in 2 months from the initial session.
Signs an OT Is Not A Good Fit For Your Child
As Pediatric Occupational Therapist for 22 years, I have had the opportunity to work with many families. I absolutely love it when a parent sends me a photo of how big their child has grown and shares with me updates on how they are doing.
A therapist has to make you and your child feel heard. That they understand what your goals and expectations are and devise a plan to meet those needs. If your child has behavioral changes or states that they don’t like the Occupational Therapist, you should look into switching providers. It is crucial that you and your child feel safe and happy with the service provider or you can see regression. A therapist should provide a fun and educational session. At the end of the session, the therapist should be able to explain what they did and why. They should give you home-based activities so that you can carry over the skills taught during the Occupational Therapy Session.
If you feel your needs are not being met, you are able to speak to your service coordinator and request a change of therapist.
Getting the right therapist for your child is very important. You will see your child’s skill level and confidence soar. I love watching the children complete a skill for the first time and the look of pure joy is one that I never get tired of seeing. You are your child's best advocate so make sure your concerns are being met and your child has a therapist that they work well with.