Getting started with Occupational Therapy is an important decision you take to help support your child! Finding a therapist can be hard — a confusing, process (especially when you are new to this process) where it feels like there are no right answers.
Like all professionals, OTs differ in training, philosophy and personality. The best choice is an OT who is a good “fit” for your child and yourself.
You can do it, and we’re here to help. We promise if you read through this guide, you will leave feeling optimistic, informed and empowered to choose the right professional for your child.
Figuring Out If Your Child Needs Help!
Your child can directly be referred to an Occupational Therapist through your school, where the teachers see signs of difficulties with your child.
Sometimes your physician, pediatrician, school, a known person working with children with special needs or maybe a friend, will express the need for therapy services for your kid. It’s ok to seek help when you or others around your child notice, that he/she needs help.
It is wise to consider a reference, as he/she would be a professional referred by trusted people.
Your next step would be to visit this therapist,
Your First Visit.
By now you’ve probably sunk a fair amount of time into researching therapists and also the therapist you are going to visit. It was probably not easy. Finally you’re scheduled for a consultation. You’re done, right? Not exactly!
On your first visit to the therapist, look for these certain qualities in your therapist that will help you make the right choice. See that your therapist is someone who is approachable, shares knowledge about your child with you and is open to your input. Look for someone who listens to you, believes you and fully believes in the potential of your child. A friendly therapist who understands your child well is a GO-GO!
Step 1: Go with your gut.
Keep in mind, that this is only the first step in choosing the right therapist for your family. Because, while you do need to have a good amount of comfort and trust with your therapist, you also need to be certain that you’ll get results. Since therapy is personal, you do need to feel your therapist is the right fit in terms of comfort, but this shouldn’t be the only criterion
Step 2: Look for credibility and knowledge.
Not all therapy is the same, and many types of therapy have little to no evidence showing that they significantly help people. With that in mind, finding out the approach the therapist uses is very important. Do a little research so you are an informed consumer. Your research could include checking their website and speaking to them for understanding their qualifications and specialties, their work experience and knowledge of work. A good therapist always asks questions that lead to effective understanding of you, your child, and your family.
Step 3: Are they easy to understand?
Another factor that is important when it comes to choosing a therapist is taking a look at how he or she speaks to you. Some therapists have brilliant ideas, but they can’t get their message across in simple language that is easily understood. After all, you won’t get far if you don’t understand what your therapist is talking about. You’ll be able to tell how easy potential therapists are to understand, by the way they write for their websites or by the way they talk if you speak to them over the phone. They should also be patient with your questions. Your approachable therapist should convey their knowledge to empower you.
Step 4: Consider a specialist.
A specialist would be the one who is creative and focuses on your particular struggles. They practice and/or are open to a team based approach where they are open to communication with the other professionals working with your child. They are well read/researched and updated and document changes with your child on regular basis.
Try to find someone who has a good combination of the above characteristics. If you can find a therapist who helps you with evidence-based therapy, follows a family centered approach, is a part of parent training as their primary services, you will have a much better chance at getting significant results from your therapy.
Life with the right therapist.
With a right therapist, it is a great start!
Be responsible of your own progress by participating in the many training programs held by your therapy center and many other recognized centers. Your therapist will always guide you through it. Follow the home program and the strategies given by your therapist with consistency. Acquire knowledge about the other therapies being conducted at the therapy center that could benefit your child, such as:
- Individual Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Other Specialized Therapy Sessions
The best therapist uses play and success to produce change and foster self-esteem. In a good sensory-based OT set-up, children think they are playing.
For your child with behaviors, your therapist will use the behavioral strategies and educate you and your family with them as well, which is a keystone to treatment effectiveness.
Make the most from their websites, articles they share on social media, newsletters and blogs. A good therapist will help you through it.
They will constantly provide all the required understanding you need of your child and their difficulties and also give you information about the other best professionals you can seek. They will guide and help you through all the practical challenges you may be facing with your child.
Truly, the best of help that you can get!