What to Look for in an Occupational Therapist for Children with a Sensory Processing Disorder Diagnosis
The following information has been provided courtesy of The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation.
Finding and selecting an occupational therapist to help your child, yourself, and/or your family is an important decision. 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 – someone you and/or your child likes and with whom you feel connected.
You will also want to look for an OT who follows methods known to be associated with effective treatment.
- Provides direct 1-to-1 treatment in a sensory-rich setting that has unique equipment that provides a wide range of sensory opportunities
- Includes a diagnostic evaluation before you begin treatment and delivers it in easily understandable, written form. (If there are sections with jargon that you don’t understand, ask for an explanation before agreeing to treatment.)
- Makes parent education an integral part of the treatment program, and we don’t mean five minutes at the end of a treatment session! Parents need and deserve much more than that! Several dedicated hours for parent feedback and education should be built into the treatment plan.
- Provides written goals for treatment before you begin treatment to assure that everyone is “on the same page” about priorities
- Documents change with post-treatment testing so everyone knows how treatment is working. Typically, OTs who provide excellent pre-treatment testing also provide good post-treatment testing.
- Provides intensive treatment (at least twice times a week and preferably three) over a shorter time duration rather than once-a-week treatment. Weekly treatment can produce behavior changes, but research suggests that intensive treatment produces lasting neurological changes as well as changes in behavior.
- Uses play and success to produce change and foster self-esteem. In good, sensory-based OT, children think they are playing. If a child is crying during treatment sessions, the OT may not be skilled in providing challenge with success, which is a keystone to treatment effectiveness.
- Uses purposeful sensory stimulation to work on “occupations” such as eating, dressing, playing with others, social participation, self-regulation, and self-esteem.
- Asks questions that will lead to effective understanding of you, your child, and your family. Don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself either! If you don’t understand what your OT is doing, it is crucial to confirm that his or her methods and activities are grounded in sound therapeutic concepts and part of a well-defined strategy. If the therapist cannot clearly answer your questions, it may be a red flag that he or she lacks the training or understanding to provide effective intervention.
- Listens to you, believes you, and fully believes in the potential of your child to change. The outcomes of OT are functional changes – differences that you, your child’s teacher, and others can see. If you can’t tell if your child is improving, he or she is not improving enough!
At LifeSkills Center, the expert LifeSkills Therapy Staff answer a resounding YES to all of the above criteria.
Our mission is to provide quality occupational and speech/language therapies, to be a model center for sensory integration treatment and evaluations, and to continually foster understanding of processing disorders.
If you’d like more information, call 407-629-9455.
- Ask questions of our office staff
- Request a complimentary 10 – 15 minute call
- Request a “To-the-Core Evaluation” to identify if your concern or difficulty with behavior, or grades, or overloading is due to an underlying Sensory Processing Disorder