The therapist and caregivers work as a team to implement strategies. At weekly sessions, the caregiver reports how things are going and new recommendations are made. The caregiver also helps facilitate communication between the child’s teacher and the therapist in order to facilitate carryover of recommendations and strategies to the school environment when appropriate. Sometimes, special school visits are arranged to allow the therapist to observe the child in the school setting and to connect with the teacher directly.
The length of therapy is different for every child. It usually depends on how many areas of concern there are, the rate of progress, and how much carryover of recommendations occurs across settings. Communication between caregivers and the treating therapist is also very important so that the therapy program can be adjusted as needed and specific skill areas can be targeted when needed.
My child has difficulties with new people and places. What can I do to prepare him/her for the evaluation?
You can decide how much you want to tell your child depending on his/her age and level of understanding. It is important you explain that the person your child will be “playing” with will be asking him/her to do several things to get information about what he/she is good at and what things might be more difficult. Some of the activities will involve writing and drawing, playing games, and others will involve moving his/her body. It is really important that your child be a good listener, follow directions, and try his/her best. It might be helpful to plan a special reward for after the appointment so that your child will be motivated and interested in doing his/her best.
Occupational therapy and physical therapy are very much related to each other, as they both fulfill the purpose of maintaining the health and fitness of the individual. Both of them strive to cover all the aspects of human health – psychological, mental, and physical. While occupational therapy focuses on restoring function, physical therapy focuses on restoring mobility in a patient.
What is the difference between school-based occupational therapy and private/clinic-based occupational therapy?
School-based occupational therapy is designed to enhance the student’s ability to fully access and be successful in the learning environment. This might include working on handwriting or fine motor skills so the child can complete written assignments, helping the child organize himself or herself in the environment (including work space in and around the desk), working with the teacher to modify the classroom and/or adapt learning materials to facilitate successful participation. Private/clinic based occupational therapy can address all areas of occupation including activities of daily living/self-care, play, motor skill development, social skills, sensory processing and modulation, etc.
My child has sensory processing challenges and his/her school therapist seems unwilling to address this area. What should I do?
Sensory integration is one frame of reference or perspective which might be used in the occupational therapy intervention process. The service or therapy that school districts are mandated to deliver is occupational therapy. In the schools, the focus of OT is on the child’s ability to function in the educational environment. As long as the child’s educational needs are being appropriately met, the school-based OT is operating within his/her scope of practice and training. Each occupational therapist, using professional judgment, evaluation data, and expected outcomes, selects a particular frame of reference which will guide the intervention. You are encouraged to discuss your concerns with the school therapist to help you understand the reasoning used to guide the intervention. It is important to note that the school environment might have limitations in terms of sensory equipment available, but this depends on the specific school setting. Also, sensory strategies can be easily integrated into the school setting while use of specific suspended equipment might not appropriate.