Finding The Best Occupational Therapy For Children With Sensory Processing Disorder

Finding occupational therapy for children with SPD can be a frustrating and daunting task for some, depending on where you live or what you are looking for specifically.  

Keep in mind, you are going to want to ask for a SIPT certified (pronounced "sipped") OT if at all possible. They have been additionally trained to diagnose (and usually to treat as well) kids with SPD. If they are too far away, you can go to them for the initial evaluation, then find treatment closer to home. A proper diagnosis is CRITICAL. You may also want to ask if they accept your insurance; but be prepared, not many do (YET!). Generally, a "SIPT certified" therapist is best. But, keep in mind many OT's have worked with, and are quite knowledgeable about (even specialize in) how to diagnose and treat kids with SPD even though they are not "certified", and can be just as wonderful as a SIPT certified OT.(For example, they may have learned from a SIPT certified OT but never had the time or money to pay for getting "certified" themselves).

Just remember, it is up to you to find the OT that is the best fit for YOU, YOUR child, and YOUR family! Don't be shy about asking as many questions as possible to ensure the proper "fit".

TIPS for Finding OT Services

If you are trying to obtain therapy services and just aren't sure where to start -- my friend Michelle Morris has some excellent suggestions:

1. Call your local hospital and ask if they have the type of therapy program you need available on an outpatient basis.

2. Remember, if your child is on SSI Medicaid providers are not allowed, to hit you up for cash payments if they accept Medicaid.

3. Have the 'waiting list' blues? Our clinic has a waiting list too, but if a parent is a squeaky wheel, they are bumped to the front of that list. If a parent persisted, a spot was found. Quickly.

So, as you are calling some of these places, first ask if they accept Medicaid, or your type of insurance, then ask if they are able to get your child in right away. Because "he/she is having some serious issues, and you are VERY concerned."

4. Insurance. I have a list of codes most commonly paid by insurance carriers for therapy. If you need some advice in this area, read my article “Most Commonly Paid Insurance Codes”

5. There are also organizations, like the Shriner's and the Elks who provide, free of charge usually, HOME services. Usually, it is once a week, for each therapist, done in your home. This is an option, if you find you have to wait.

6. Age. Find out about your state's Early Intervention programs (ages 0-3). They evaluate, and provide services, free of charge. I know that some parents prefer private OT's, PT's, and SLP's. My feeling is; something is better than nothing while we wait on the ideal.

7. Your Medicaid may require a referral from a doctor for authorization. If you don't know the doctors in your area, try an easy way to narrow down that search for a pediatrician who will give you a referral. Simply call one after another, in the local phone book, and ask:

=> "Does this doctor refer children to OT, ST and PT in this area?"

=> "Does he refer for Sensory Processing Disorder?" (or insert the diagnosis of your child)"

Usually the nurses and receptionists know the answer, because they do the paperwork, and send the referrals. Also when asked, our OT clinic would not refer a specific doctor, but they would give a list of doctors names to parents, upon request, of those who refer most frequently.

Depends on which you find first, the chicken or the egg? If you find the therapy clinic first, ask them. If you find a doctor first, ask them for clinics who are accepting new patients right now. They know.

A List Of All Occupational Therapy Associations For Every US State

If you do not find the resources you need there, below you will find a link to a list of all Occupational Therapy Associations for every US state. Once you click on YOUR state, look through their website, find sections that may have a therapist database, and/or simply make a phone call or email them via their contact information and ask for what you need.

Here's A State-By-State Listing Of The Occupational Therapy Associations!

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Related Resources and Further Reading

Occupational Therapy Resources - Recommended Occupational Therapy resources for Occupational Therapists, parents, families, and other professionals dealing with Sensory Processing Disorders / Sensory Integration Dysfunction

Pushing Occupational Therapy into the Classroom - What is Occupational Therapy & why is it useful in the school setting?

What Is Occupational Therapy? - An extensive article describing what occupational therapists do and how we are involved in treating Sensory Processing Disorder.

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