You have to take time to research when adding a new person into your child’s life. When you are choosing an occupational therapist, they will be working closely with your child so you have to consider the needs of your child and their personality when selecting the right professional.
If you know other parents that visit a children’s occupational therapist, you can ask them for referrals. But the main factor you have to consider is the needs of your child and your family. Even if an occupational therapist comes highly recommended, you need to consider if they are the right for your child. You can also search for occupational therapists on Google to see if there is anybody in your local area which will make travel easy. You also have to consider the experience of the therapist, what their treatment approaches are like and their qualifications.
If you find a promising occupational therapist, it is a good idea to have a few trial sessions to see if your child is responding positively to the experience. You can go through the official website of the occupational therapist to see how long they have been working in the field and which settings they have been in. You can also contact them to see which skill areas they have worked with. There may be certain situations that the occupational therapist is more familiar with such as working with children on the autism spectrum or children who have physical impairments.
You can also check what kinds of environments the occupational therapist usually works in. Some will work in the school environment but they will mostly be familiar with working to improve motor skills, handwriting etc. A great way to start the search is to list out the areas that your child needs help with so that you can further get in touch with the occupational therapist to see if they have experience in this.
If you can’t find anyone meeting these criteria in your local area, you can meet and have a trial session with a well recommended occupational therapist that does work close-by. Sometimes, experience is not the only thing to go by and there can also be new graduates who can connect with the child and help them improve.
Check what kind of specialised professional development training the therapist has done. Even if they don’t have experience in a certain area, they may have undergone training for it. You can also ask if they focus on a specific skill area only such as feeding therapy, handwriting, toileting etc. There are also occupational therapists that focus on certain diagnoses such as developmental delay and autism spectrum disorder.
Ask them about their treatment approach and how they plan to work with your child. You can also ask if they include play in their approach as this will make the sessions more fun for the child and they will actually start looking forward to them. You can also meet with them to ask what kind of activities they want to do and how they will plan these activities in the space of one session.