When you first get a referral from your pediatrician for therapy services (occupational, physical, or speech), your insurance company may automatically send your referral to a local clinic. However, depending on how many clinics are in your area, there may be other options and you do have a choice as to where you want to take your child for services.
Do your research on the clinic and practitioners – check out the website and social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) for the company and see what information they have available. Research other clinics in the area as well, if you see a clinic you like, give them a call and see if they accept your insurance and/or what other payment options are available.
When you go in for an evaluation, don’t be afraid to ask the practitioner questions about his or her background and what trainings he or she has completed. Keep in mind that therapists are not all trained the same – the skills that a therapist has or techniques he or she uses can be very different from one therapist to another. Years of experience does not always mean much – a therapist can have just a couple years of experience and be very knowledgeable and compassionate and, on the other hand, a therapist with 10 years of experience may have pursued only the minimal trainings required to maintain his or her license and may not be a good match for your child.
Probably most important of all, how does the therapist interact with you and your child? Does the therapist seem to bond with your child? Keep in mind that it can take a few sessions for your child to get used to a new person but try to go with your gut about how you feel about the person and their interactions with your child. Even the best therapist may not be a personality match for your child. You can also ask to sit in on sessions, but just be aware that there may be times when your therapist feels that it is more beneficial for your child if you are not in the session. Lastly, don’t be shy about asking questions – a good therapist will always be willing to share information with you and give you things to work on at home.
By: Andrea De Marino
Andrea is an occupational therapist who earned her Master’s Degree in Health Sciences from the Medical College of Georgia in 2006. She has worked in a variety of therapy settings across the country including hospitals, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, schools, and several private pediatric clinics. Her areas of expertise include autism and sensory processing disorder (SPD). She is passionate about providing humane, effective treatment based on the most current research and treatment practices. To find out more about Andrea or occupational therapy, visit her website at www.sensorysolutionsinc.com.