Fact: Finding out your child has a delay in their speech, language, or motor skills and will need to attend weekly therapy sessions for months (possibly years) can be hard.
Here’s the bright side.
Finding the right Speech, Occupational, or Physical Therapist to work with can make a world of difference in your child and family’s lives.
A therapist who is the right fit can help you and your child navigate through their challenges, put your worries at ease, and improve your child’s skills – through a fun, enjoyable experience!
“Where do I start?”
The first step in getting your child started in Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, or Occupational Therapy involves having him or her complete an evaluation.
Once you locate a practice in your area that provides the therapy your child needs, or set up an appointment for teletherapy, prepare to ask the therapist some crucial questions.
Questions to Ask a Prospective Therapist
#1: “What areas do you specialize in?”
Why ask: All practicing Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapists should have a master’s degree or higher, be licensed in the state he or she is providing therapy, and hold a national certification. Speech Therapists (also known as “Speech-Language Pathologists”) for example, should be certified by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
In addition to these basic qualifications, some therapists have additional training or certifications related to specific disorders, or for working with certain populations of children (i.e., certain ages or medical diagnoses).
Some Occupational Therapists may have extensive experience working with children who have sensory processing disorders. If your pediatrician mentions that your baby has a specific condition such as Torticollis, relay this when scheduling your initial evaluation. Request a Physical Therapist with experience in this area.
When the therapist is knowledgeable and experienced, a child is more likely to show positive results from therapy. And that, of course, is what you want!
#2: “What specific therapy approaches or programs do you use?”
Your child may already have a diagnosis, such as Autism, ADHD, or Down Syndrome. If so, mention that to the therapist and ask if there is a specific therapy approach he or she would use while working with your child.
Some Occupational Therapists create a specific program of activities (known as a “Sensory Diet”) for your child.
It’s important you find a therapist who uses an approach that specifically addresses your child’s unique needs.
#3: “What does a typical session look like?”
Asking a potential therapist this question will give you a good idea of his or her individual therapy style. Then, consider how it matches up with your child’s personality and the outcomes you are looking for.
Does the therapist mention the importance of family involvement during and in between sessions? Will your child be expected to sit for a 30 or 60-minute session and do more structured tasks such as flashcards? Or does the therapist incorporate more play-based activities?
Questions to Ask Yourself
Whether you’re just starting your child in therapy or are curious if you have the best fit with your child’s current therapist, here are some questions to ask yourself!
#1: “Does my child look forward to therapy? Do I?”
Should kids work hard in Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy to improve their skills? Yes. Should they have fun while doing it? Absolutely!
When children look forward to sessions, they are more likely to actively participate and get the most out of therapy.
Parents should also look forward to therapy sessions! When parents have a strong relationship with the therapist, their child is more likely to experience positive outcomes. They are more likely to attend weekly sessions and practice therapy strategies at home.
#2: “How do I feel about the therapist’s bedside manner?”
You should see that your child’s therapist is friendly and takes the time to build a connection with him or her!
The therapist should pay attention to your child’s interests and what motivates him or her. If your little one loves anything transportation-related, does the therapist incorporate fun activities like building train tracks or racing cars in sessions?
#3: “Is my child making progress?”
#4: “Am I involved in my child’s therapy?”
Ask yourself if you feel knowledgeable about what your child is working on in therapy. You should know the goals and what to do at home to continue working on them throughout the week. It’s important to feel comfortable asking your child’s therapist any questions you might have surrounding therapy.
Your therapist should be able to provide you and your child with specific homework and refer you to other helpful resources (like websites, apps, or materials).
#5: “Does scheduling therapy fit into my family’s lifestyle?”
It isn’t easy to add another appointment or two into your family’s already packed weekly schedule! But because attending Speech, Occupational, or Physical Therapy consistently is an important factor in determining your child’s progress, it shouldn’t seem too overwhelming.
If you are ready to get started with finding the best therapist for your child, consider TherapyWorks! TherapyWorks selects the right therapist for your child. Therapists provide in-home speech, occupational, feeding, and physical therapy services in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio and teletherapy nationwide.