When you suspect that something is going on with your son or daughter that you just can’t explain, a typical next step is a therapy evaluation in the discipline you have a concern in. For A-Man, we were concerned with his speech, so he got a speech therapy evaluation, which turned into regular speech therapy services, as well as an occupational therapy evaluation and continued services. With Baby M, we were most concerned with his sensory aversions, and the fact that he was barely eating anything. So we got him an occupational therapy evaluation which resulted in continued occupational therapy as well as physical and speech therapy.
Evaluations can leave us with a big range of emotions. Relieved that someone might have some insight about what’s going on and how to help. Fear that it might all be in your head. Fear that it’s not just all in your head. Not to mention some creepy laying on a chair images pop up when people say “therapy” still, so it’s hard to know what to expect. So I threw this together to be a comfort to moms that are anxiously awaiting the appointment they will “accidentally” be 45 minutes early to, don’t worry, I was too.
What to Know Before a Therapy Evaluation?
You’d think this one would be common sense, says the mom who had to think really, really hard every time they asked me a question. Seemingly random things from your child’s medical history might end up piecing things together. A-Man was 6 weeks premature and had to be intubated which contributed heavily to his sensory processing disorder. Who knew? Random details matter. Now I’m not saying to bring a full medical chart and demand to talk about every sniffle your child has ever had, but have some things in the back of your mind for if they ask questions.
When did your son sit up for the first time? When did your daughter start to crawl? For some people, they could tell you this down to the day and hour. I’m not that mom.. I’m the mom that mixes the kids birthdays because two of them have 10’s in them and that’s not fair! So, if you’re like me, spend some time thinking through developmental milestones and when your child met them. Rolling over, sitting, crawling, pulling to stand, and walking are all good places to start. Of course, it depends on your child’s age and development level.
Behaviors You Notice
This is huge. Huge. Huge. Huge. There is absolutely nothing that you can tell them that is too small, promise. If something is irrelevant, they’ll just say “yeah, kids do that” or “that’s developmentally appropriate”. If it is relevant, it can help them narrow what goals to focus on or catch an issue before it becomes worse. Baby M favored his left side. I really thought nothing of it, but mentioned it anyways and it turned out that his right side was a lot weaker than his left and we really had to work on it. Mention everything. Besides just the possibility of catching an issue, therapists are there to help you and your child! Just this week I told A-Man’s OT that he has started licking around his mouth and chewing on everything he can get his hands on, she instantly had 5 different options for us to try to help. [Side note, I have a post in the works on therapy hacks to keep things affordable. Make sure you subscribe in the side bar or the bar across the top of the site so you won’t miss it!]
Therapists are There to Help
This ties in with the last one, but it’s important enough to get its own category. The therapists are genuinely good people who only have your child’s best interest at heart. They may say things you don’t want to hear. You may get advice that you don’t want to follow. That’s fine. You don’t have to take their word as law, but you should listen, respect their opinion, and understand that it is from a place of love and knowledge and not just a way to hurt your baby. A lot of times therapy evaluations and therapy in general are hard for parents, especially attachment parents, because often times you have to make your child uncomfortable to make progress. It’s really difficult, but it is honestly for their best interest. I’m not saying turn cold hearted and let your child scream the whole session, but try to listen to the therapist’s advice with an open heart and an open mind.
What are your tips for therapy evaluations? Any way to make it a bit easier for mom or the little one?