Finding a Sensory Smart OT

I’m a big believer in the value of a Sensory Smart OT. If you are looking for a private pediatric OT who can work with your child, be sure you find one who is trained and experienced in working with kids with SPD (not all have). Here’s how to start finding one.

A sensory smart OT is trained & experienced in helping kids with SPD

While some of the OTs who work for school districts or early intervention programs, also known as Birth to Three programs and by other names depending on the state, are sensory smart, not all are. What’s more, after your child has “aged out” of EI, the services are only provided if the focus is on school-related skills. If your 4 year old’s sensory-based sleep problems or picky eating are making family life difficult, know that it is not a school district OT’s job to address those very real issues.

Private OT can be very expensive out of pocket. A good sensory smart OT should know how to code her interventions to get insurance coverage from various carriers but of course, if you don’t have insurance, have a high deductible, or have limits on the number of sessions and need more, it can be costly. What if you were to work with an excellent sensory smart OT, ask her lots of questions and observe her sessions, and carry over the types of activities yourself, doing “homework”? I think you should be doing this anyway if you can (some kids will do more for an OT or in a sensory gym than they will for you at home or in the park). But if you carry over the OT activities and ensure that your OT has set up a workable sensory diet for home and for school, then you may be able to work with her on a consultation basis. So, for instance, if your child is going to start a new activity, or transfer to a new school, she might be able to come out and assess the situation or consult by phone.

Then too, make sure your OT has a copy of the revised and updated Raising a Sensory Smart Child. The book is chock full of ideas and strategies for kids with sensory processing disorder. Having worked with your child, and drawing on her training and experience, she can be an incredible asset even if you can’t afford regular OT sessions.

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4 Comments

Filed under evaluations, OT, Raising a Sensory Smart Child, sensory integration dysfunction, sensory processing disorder

4 responses to “Finding a Sensory Smart OT

  1. This is perfect timing – we’re having a private OT come out to the house (recommended by our 4 yr old’s school OT) to assess his sensory issues at home. We were debating clinic based vs. home based private OT and are still unsure as the best way to go. It will be out of pocket, but I don’t think we have a choice. She’s trained in the SIIP (I think that’s the right name for the test) and we sent her our son’s IEP, sensory profile results and past plans.
    She going to start with one assessment visit, give us some immediate advice and decide if/how many follow up visits are needed. Does that sound appropriate?
    Alysia
    http://www.trydefyinggravity.wordpress.com

    • Be sure to keep a copy of the SIPT (sensory integration and praxis test) results if you get one. I am not a big believer in this pricey test if you have to pay out of pocket because a good sensory smart OT will spot a child’s sensory issues and work with you to find the best way to tailor the therapy. But, having results may help you get OT through the school system–IF they “believe in” an SPD diagnosis.
      If the OT decides your child needs sensory integration therapy, you should talk insurance coverage–can she bill your insurance company for treatment for, say, dyspraxia if she’s treating that with the SI therapy? Most insurance companies have limits on how many sessions they will pay for (if any).
      Keep in mind that whatever she does with your child, learn from her how you can carry through the therapy via a sensory diet she sets up and that works for you, your child, and your family. (We included family sensory diet ideas in the latest edition of the book because it is easier to get everyone involved in an activity that happens to meet a sensory child’s sensory needs than try to do everything one on one with him.) Be sure to tell her what your biggest challenges are–mealtime, bedtime, clothing, grooming, etc. and get her help.
      Here’s a link to more info on what an OT can do for your child. http://www.sensorysmartparent.com/otsensory.html
      I hope you have found a terrific OT!

  2. Tell me about the problems of finding good OTs who take insurance for sensory integration problems! It’s tough finding people who take insurance.

    • Until SPD is in the DSM as a diagnosis (I am hopeful that this will happen but there’s no guarantee), the only way you can get SI therapy covered is if the OT happens to use it to treat certain conditions for which there’s a code…and which your insurance covers. I would think that sensory smart OTs who are already treating other kids have figured out what codes are appropriate given what they’re treating (such as motor planning problems), but taking the insurance you happen to have? That’s another story.
      I looked into visual therapy and unfortunately, the one by me only takes one insurance. And if I were to switch to that insurance, of course, it wouldn’t be covered because having had the evaluation, my son would then have a “preexisting condition” that wouldn’t be covered. And talk about expensive! So, it’s unfortunate, but you often end up paying out of pocket for therapies.
      Some people have had luck with getting help from the Masons or Scottish Rites which raise money to help children with disabilities.

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