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What to expect at your child's therapy evaluation

October 08, 2014

Your child has been referred to Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy or Speech Therapy. So, what's next? First of all, don't dread this appointment. Therapists can be a wealth of information and you will leave that first appointment with some useful tools. Part of a therapist’s job is to share valuable information with you about your child- both their strengths and weaknesses. Their job is to help your child reach their maximum potential and equip you to be an expert about your child’s abilities. This is a good thing.

For All Evaluations

  • Bring your child in comfortable clothing that allow full movement
  • Make sure they are well rested
  • Bring any specific equipment they use such as walkers, splints, or communication devices
  • Be prepared to share concerns you or your doctor may have
  • Provide a list of their medications
  • Be prepared to leave for part of the session if asked (so that therapist can build rapport and see how your child works on their own)

What to bring for Feeding Concerns

  • A hungry kiddo
  • Food you’re sure your child will eat
  • Food you have tried to give your child but they haven’t accepted
  • A drink your child typically accepts: bottle, sippy cup, straw cup, etc.
  • A list of their allergies or recent notes from any specialists

What to Bring for School Related Concerns

  • A copy of their 504 Plan, IEP, Behavior Contract or Health Plan
  • A letter from the teacher expressing any specific concerns (if possible)
  • A sample of their written work from class (if this is a concern)
  • Report a from the school psychologist or therapist (if it’s available)

During the Evaluation

Let the therapist take the lead but feel free to comment if you feel your child is not showing their full potential. Be as specific as possible. Remember, you are the expert on your child and the therapist is getting a one-time snapshot. Any information on how your child typically functions is very much appreciated. During the evaluation, your therapists will gather valuable information on how your child responds- or doesn't respond- to certain tasks. The therapist is likely to approach your child in a specific way to achieve a desired outcome. For this reason, resist the urge to help your child complete tasks presented. Remember, therapists are looking to build rapport with your little one and form a partnership with you to ensure your child’s success. They’ll definitely let you know if they need you to jump in and help out.

After your Evaluation

  • Ask the therapist for their professional opinion on what strengths they observe in your child and what areas of concern they have. Would they recommend referrals to other professionals or further testing?
  • If therapy is recommended, how often will they need to be seen to achieve their goals? What skills does the therapist see your child achieving through their intervention? How much work at home will be required to achieve these results?
  • Although most of the recommendations will come during your child’s treatment sessions, you can still leave the evaluation equipped with something beneficial for your child. Ask for a few suggestions on what you can work on at home while you await your first therapy session. Therapists want to build your child’s skills and maximize their strengths so they’ll have great suggestions for toys and fun activities to help your child achieve their goals.