Need a therapist? Read this first!

Finding the Right Provider for Your Family

The therapy team you create has the power to catapult your child’s progress or cause it to stagnate. Choosing the right provider for your child is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.

First, discover if your insurance or school district requires you to work with a specific agency or therapist. Often times there are lists of highly qualified therapists to choose from.

If you do have options, consider your child’s needs.

What type of therapist is your doctor or school suggesting? What specific need does your child have? Then, be sure to understand what type of therapist is appropriate. For example, learn the difference between an Occupational Therapist and a Physical Therapist to make sure your child gets the appropriate help.

Ask for credentials, and get specifics.

Is the special education teacher also trained as a behavioral therapist? My son was a mystery for his first two speech therapists until we were paired with one who knew about Apraxia. Then we started seeing improvements.

Flexibility is important.

Is the therapist able to meet you in the morning, afternoon, and an evening? Will they meet at your home and the preschool setting? Ideally, the therapist will see your child at multiple settings to work in the environments your child will most likely be in.

Creating a team is critical.

Instead of each therapist working independently, we all communicated constantly. While we made each other crazy at times, we shared a common goal, which was Drew. We shared a folder of brief notes so everybody could overlap objectives. The speech teacher addressed sensory issues while working on his verbal skills, the OT would work on sounds while making clay shapes, and the preschool teacher worked with his special education teacher to learn which facial cues could be reinforced while he was with her.

Ask questions, but respect their expertise.

A trial period is a great idea, but you must also be patient. It can get frustrating when you don’t get answers or see immediate results. I wanted answers after their first session, but instead, Vicki did a thorough evaluation that took weeks. Had she rushed just to appease me, she may have missed something.

Staying involved in the therapy sessions will only strengthen your child’s progress, and will also help you determine if your therapist is a right fit. If you have concerns, talk with the therapist about it and see what he/she recommends. Don’t be afraid to ask for someone new. Ultimately, you need to do what works best for your child.

Julia Garstecki

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