This was an interview with Lacey OTR/L, an occupational therapist at Roots Therapy in Park City, UT. She shared some insights on what to expect before the first visit, during the first visit, and what to expect during subsequent sessions. She also shared what makes therapy successful for parents and kids.
Special thanks to Lacey and the Roots Therapy team for giving their time for this interview! They have a lot more to offer than what was given in this interview. If you want to know more about Roots Therapy and the services they offer, you can find that information and much more on their website.
Before Your First Appointment
Before your occupational therapist (OT) even meets with you and your child, there generally will be a questionnaire that is sent home. Lacey, an occupational therapist shared what items parents can expect from the questionnaire.
She explained how these forms give them some background information on medical history, strengths and weaknesses, etc. in order to better understand what area of focus would benefit the child most in therapy. This questionnaire can also help the OT know if any further assessments would be needed during that first visit.
What to Expect During Your First OT Appointment
Most of this appointment is used for further assessments the OT might need to do. They will also use this time to get to know you and your child better. “We gather other information from them about play preferences, what they do gross-motor wise, big play activities and what they do with their hands and balance,” Lacey added.
For parents, the most helpful thing you can do is come prepared. Lacey expanded on that notion by stating, “I would just come with all your questions. Think of your child holistically; their motor skills, emotional regulation skills, your observations, and questions and concerns in that area.”
What is Expected as a Parent at OT Appointments?
Lacey recommends that parents be involved as much as their schedules allow. By being present at the appointments, parents can gain information about activities they can try at home. Lacey understands there are limits to what an OT experiences with a child, “We are with them one hour a week, but parents are with them usually all of that other time.”
She continues saying, “We love it when parents can come, but we understand it’s not always possible with schedules. So, if parents need to drop their kids off and touch base when they pick them up, we work with that as well.”
The most important thing to understand as parents is this experience requires patience. “For any family it almost never happens where a kid comes to a few sessions and magically all of the things they needed to work on have improved,” Lacey said. OT takes time, months of consistently going and putting in the work to see slow and steady progress. She reminds parents that they are not alone and the therapy is family centered. Lacey emphasized, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Finding An OT That Fits Your Child
Lacey shared that while all OT’s are qualified to work with kids in general categories, specific skill sets require a therapist who will match your needs. She said, “There are some areas that people (OT’s) can have additional training in…if there are extra needs beyond motor, sensory, emotional regulations, or social skills you can look into more specific therapies.” For example, Lacey is trained in SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) feedings, but there are also several other areas that need a little extra training like splinting and orthotics.
Finding the best occupational therapist to fit your child’s needs is one way to help them navigate their lives. At the end of the day, you are the parent and know your child best. It may seem daunting at first, but there are many people out there who know how to help.