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.
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.