Your child’s first occupational therapy appointment is on the schedule. Everything’s all set, but you may be a little nervous – a little voice inside your head wonders how therapy is going to work for your small child who may not “get” why therapy is important. What should you bring? How long will it last? Will my child cooperate with the therapist?
Your child’s first occupational therapy appointment will be an evaluation.
The evaluation will usually include a standardized test, observation through play, medical history information, and/or a parent report. Before your child’s evaluation, you will be given a series of documents to complete, but it’s also a good idea to create a list of your concerns or questions you have and bring it with you. In the moment, it’s easy to forget what you intended to ask!
At least one parent needs to be in the room with your child and the therapist during the first occupational therapy appointment, and while we believe that all family members can play a role in helping children develop, it’s important that siblings aren’t present during the evaluation. The first occupational therapy appointment can take up to two hours, but if yours doesn’t, consider yourself lucky! It takes time for some children to “warm up” to the therapist.
What Happens During the First Occupational Therapy Appointment
The first step in your child’s occupational therapy appointment 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, and 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, but it’s usually easier to focus if you do it at home, prior to the appointment. 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 at this first occupational therapy appointment 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 at this first occupational therapy appointment 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.
Unsure if your child needs occupational therapy?
Developed over two decades of treating children, Kid’s Creek Therapy offers a FREE online GAP Assessment for parents with concerns. By answering a series of simple questions, you’ll instantly receive a score that will help you understand if your child may have an issue needing closer evaluation. Click here for the free GAP Assessment or book a free consultation with one of our therapists.