Sensory processing disorder (SPD) can be confusing — even for “veteran” parents whose child has been in occupational therapy for years. Depending on your relationship with your child’s occupational therapist, other life commitments, involvement of other family members, supportiveness of your child’s school and a variety of other factors, you may or may not have had the resources to truly understand your child’s sensory experiences.
Open communication between your child’s occupational therapist (and other therapists) is essential to success in therapy, because your child spends more time outside of the theraputic environment — in the “real” world. Following are five questions that occupational therapists wish families would ask to help you help your child.
What can we be doing on a daily basis to help carry over the treatment that my child is doing here in the clinic? “Daily OT will result in much faster progress,” says Marissa Edwards, MS OTR/L, director of North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Bucktown clinic in Chicago.
When do I have a chance to meet with you or have questions answered? “This is essential for parents to understand what is being done, why and the results,” explains Lynn Witzen, MS OTR/L, supervisor of therapy services at the STAR Center in the Denver area.
Can you explain how all of the processing systems work together? Shelley Margow, MS OTR/L, clinical director of Children’s Therapy Works in the Atlanta area says, “Intensive programming is more valuable for children with SPD. When parents do not understand how the systems all work together, it is challenging for them to know why they are spending their resources doing therapy.”
Ask for clarification on the diagnosis and make sure you understand why your child needs occupational therapy, recommends Amy Williams, MS OTR/L with Sante Pediatric Services in San Antonio.
Also, ask about the differences between OT provided through early intervention, school-based OT and OT provided through a private practice, adds Williams. “The approaches are different, depending on what type of provider a family is working with.” For example, school-based OT is focused on educational goals, whereas OT through a private practice focuses on a broader set of goals.
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