A Parent’s Guide to Your First OT Visit for Sensory Processing.

A parent's guide to your first Occupational Therapy visit for sensory processing disorder.
Navigating the process of getting to an occupational therapist can be a frustrating journey.
You may have to wait months before you can even get in to an Occupational Therapist {OT}. Here’s a glimpse of what you might expect.

Your first visit with an occupational therapist may vary depending on the facility and your child’s age. One thing you can expect is a lot of questions. The OT will have a lot of questions for you,  the parent and will want to know about what your concerns are.

The OT may have you fill out an assessment prior to your appointment {or after your first appointment}. Although, she may or not have this scored before you come in this will give her a good idea of the areas that your child may need their services in. It might be overwhelming doing the assessment but it’s usually pretty clear where your child is deficient and where she is proficient.

While your child is there, the OT may have an assistant work with her while you are talking. During this time the OT may perform some exercises with your child to see how she functions. For example (don’t try this at home) our OT had our daughter on the swing and spun her around a few times and then watched her eyes to see the effects spinning had on her. This gave our OT insight if spinning registered with her system {which it did not} and explained why she would spin for several minutes at home without stopping and without getting dizzy.

How you might feel: You will hopefully feel like your OT gets your child and understands what you have been dealing with as a parent. You might feel a huge sense of relief from this. You might also feel like you’ve just been hit with a ton of bricks, overwhelmed in your current situation and anxious for anything to help.   Take a deep breathe and remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Buckle up, hang on and get comfortable it’s a bumpy ride.

What was your first OT appointment like?  What would you tell parent’s who are still on the waiting list to see an OT?

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4 thoughts on “A Parent’s Guide to Your First OT Visit for Sensory Processing.

  1. Jenni

    Great post. We go to OT weekly and it has been such a great experience. We are learning more about our daughter’s sensory needs and what things to buy for home. Some sensory product can be expensive so it’s good to try things and learn as she progresses. I will be sharing this on my blog FB page. Thanks!

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  2. Amanda

    Hi!
    My son just had his first OT appointment this week. He is 2.5 years old and since he was really little I had a niggly feeling that something was just not right. But even though I found parenting him so much harder than I ever imagined it would be and so demanding, especially since we would have days where he would have tantrums from waking to falling to sleep at night and sleep was always an issue, I thought that maybe his problems were just down to being really strong-willed and having a few personality quirks. What strengthened that thought was the fact that somehow my parenting style helped him get through most challenges. I’ve learnt how to determine between a meltdown and a battle of wills tantrum, and some difficulties such as not being able to stand having dirty hands and mouth have become less of an issue for him. I decided to investigate further when his constipation issue miraculously resolved as soon as we managed potty training after more than a year of medical treatment and no change! What also helped was a visit to a friends home. My son had a snack there and she noticed his eating habit of putting food in his mouth and immediately on contact with his tongue, spitting it out. Her own daughter was being being treated or sensory defensiveness and that afternoon I finally started having the words with which to ask the questions that had been nagging away at the back of mind all along.
    The wait to see the OT was 3 months and in that time I had many mixed feelings. One as of hope – that I would finally have the support I needed to help identify ‘why’ my son was having so many meltdowns. But I was also afraid that I wuld be told that there was no problem and that that would mean that I was just a terrible parent in some way. I couldn’t wait for the appointment and t the same time I dreaded it.
    It turns out he does have sensory issues and I walked out o that appointment again with mixed feelings. The OT was surprised that he had not been referred earlier since he had been seen for so long for the constipation. I felt angry at the medical staff: Why had they not looked at other causes when everything else was not working? And a bit angry at myself: why had I not spojen up sooner? The journey of struggling with constipation for so long had been a challenging and even at times traumatic one for both my and I. Many times I sat with this brave little boy ighting back the tears that he wasn’t shedding, even though he was in obvious pain and discomfort.
    But I also walked away feeling like super mommy. My son had met all his developmental milestones. He as sitting at 4.5 months and walking by 10 months and his speech although he started bit late is above average. But more than this I was proud that despite how frustrating it was, and despite going against my family and husband’s ‘better judgement’, I had catered to my son’s high demands of wating to be held often – he practically lived in a baby wrap where he travelled and slept and even breastfed until he was too tall for it to be a comfortable place for him – he still sleeps in my arms if he needs to, and when I felt he was having a meltdown, instead of administering discipline I was on the floor with him, talking quietly and reminding him that I was there for hug when he needed it. Even as I write this my eyes fill with tears because without knowing what was really going on there where may days that I was so exhusted I just wanted to quit and wondered whether I was ever cut out to be a mom. But now I now – I am exactly who my son needs.
    Thank you also for sharing your journey as in the past three months it has been a real inspiration.

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