What to Expect: Your Child’s First Occupational Therapy Appointment

The Sensory Gym at Kid's Creek Therapy features a fan light used in the treatment of sensory integration disorder.

You’ve received a referral from your doctor, filled out all the forms, and scheduled your first appointment at the therapy office. Everything’s all set, but you may be a little nervous because you don’t know exactly what to expect. You’ve probably seen adults receiving therapy in movies, but a little voice inside your head wonders how it’s going to work for your small child that may not “get” why therapy is valuable. In this third-in-a-series post, occupational therapist Jill Ronske talks about what to expect in that first occupational therapy appointment.

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The first step in your child’s evaluation will be a discussion of your concerns and your child’ s history. This is a time to share information about your child’s motor skills and sensory processing. You can expect questions about your child’s eating habits, hygiene routines (bath, brushing teeth, transitioning to sleep, dressing), emotional regulation as well as their likes/dislikes for activities involving movement and touch. The therapist will also ask questions about motor development including gross and fine motor tasks (walking, coloring, cutting, writing) and coordination in completing tasks. Feel free to bring examples of your child’s handwriting or drawing skills. The therapist may also ask you to bring various foods (crunchy, chewy, smooth) so your child can be observed eating different textures. Please dress your child in comfortable clothing so they can move and jump around easily.

Next, we may ask you to complete some forms that will give us detailed information regarding your child’s sensory preferences. These forms may look a little overwhelming but provide us with valuable information regarding your child’s sensory preferences (touch, movement, oral motor, endurance, emotional regulation, behavior). You can complete these forms while we work with your child or at home. Remember, any and all information is appreciated no matter how irrelevant you think it may be. This information will help us learn about your child and may lead to further questions to help us dig deeper into their sensory processing.

While you are busy giving us detailed information, the therapist will be working with your child. Our time together may begin in the large gym where the therapist will observe what equipment your child seeks out (and also avoids) and whether your child tolerates input provided by the therapist as well as on their own. The therapist will observe your child’s balance, coordination, ability to plan and organize their movement, and their ability to accept direction.

The evaluation will also include the use of specific assessments designed to evaluate your child’s fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, strength, integration of reflexes, visual motor and visual perceptual skills. The evaluation will allow us to determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Finally, the therapist will discuss goals with you and determine a treatment plan that will help your child. The therapist will incorporate information from the evaluation along with your goals to develop a plan that will “gently” challenge your child. Our goal is to help your child be a “kid” and to make this journey through childhood a little easier.

Jill Ronske, Occupational Therapist

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