What to Expect When Your Child Has an Occupational Therapy Evaluation
Your child has been referred for an occupational therapy evaluation by their primary care provider and you may have lots of questions!
Frequently Asked Questions about OT Evaluations
Q: Why does my child need to see an occupational therapist?
A: Your child’s pediatrician likely referred your child for an OT evaluation to address any concerns about your child’s development and performance. Concerns could be related to their self care (including dressing, bathing, eating, etc.), play, gross motor, fine motor, and visual motor skills, sensory processing, and coordination. An occupational therapist will consider your specific concerns about your child’s ability to engage in age appropriate activities and will collaborate with you to develop goals and treatment plan to help your child reach their full potential.
Q: What does an OT evaluation look like?
A: You will enter our building and office staff will greet you. They will introduce you to your occupational therapist at your appointment time. Then, the occupational therapist will take you and your child back to a private room for the evaluation. First, the therapist will likely ask you different questions about your child’s performance in a variety of activities and their daily routine. We will also ask you what activities your child has a hard time with and what your concerns are. The questions vary based on your child’s age and what your concerns are. After we finish the parent interview, we will look at a variety of skills with your child. Occupational therapists focus on a child’s:
- Fine motor skills (small movements of the hand. Examples include tying shoes, pencil grasp, cutting, and moving small objects with the hand.)
- Visual motor skills (how the eyes and hands work together)
- Handwriting skills (as appropriate)
- Gross motor skills (large movements of the body. Examples include skipping, jumping jacks, coordination, and balance)
- Motor planning (the ability to make a plan for movement and have your body carry out that plan)
- Self care (dressing, grooming, feeding, bathing, toileting, sleep)
- Executive function (attention, self regulation, organization, higher level thinking)
- Sensory Processing (how the brain interprets and processes information from the environment)
- Social interactions
We will complete a standardized assessment on your child to look at many of the above listed skills. Standardized assessments are fun and play based so that we can keep the child engaged and make it an enjoyable (and not scary) experience.
Based on testing, our observations, and your report, we will determine if your child qualifies for occupational therapy services. If they qualify, we will develop a plan of care and goals catered to their specific needs. We will discuss your child’s strengths, as well as areas for growth that we see and develop a plan of care for therapy (including frequency and duration of services) and give suggestions for activities you can do at home.
Q: How long does the evaluation last?
A: The evaluation can take up to 2 hours.
Q: What do I need to do to prepare for the evaluation?
A: Prior to the evaluation, you will be sent forms by Therapy Playground to fill out about your child’s medical history, as well as consent forms for treatment. If you have any questions or concerns, or have a hard time filling out these forms, you can call our office for assistance. At the evaluation, you will be asked to answer lots of questions about your child and their performance in various activities, but no worries! Nobody knows your child better than you do, so you will be well prepared to answer these questions! Also be prepared with any questions you may have for us at Therapy Playground.
Q: Do I need to bring anything to the evaluation?
A: Please bring your insurance card if you were not able to upload it before the evaluation. If your child has received OT before in another location and you have a copy of the report, it is helpful for you to bring that as well (but if you do not have access to this, that is okay!). Additionally, please bring any equipment that your child uses regularly, like glasses or orthotics. If your occupational therapy evaluation is focused on sensory feeding concerns, we ask that you bring two preferred foods for your child and two non-preferred foods so we are able to evaluate their feeding difficulties.
Q: What should my child wear to the evaluation?
A: Please have your child wear loose and comfortable clothing that they can move around in.
Q: What should I expect after the evaluation?
If your child qualifies for occupational therapy, the therapist will discuss your scheduling preferences (location and time) with you. We will relay that information to our office staff, who will get you scheduled. Once your appointment time is set up, this will be a recurring appointment based on the frequency the occupational therapist feels is appropriate. There may be a waitlist for therapy depending on your scheduling needs. After the evaluation, the occupational therapist will write a report that will then be mailed to you within two weeks.
We look forward to meeting you and your child and helping them grow and thrive!
-Written by Kayla House, Occupational Therapist