As an occupational therapist and owner of a private practice with seven other occupational therapists, I have the luxury of being the person who first communicates with parents seeking help for their child. I always have an informative chat with parents and take notes for my therapists, who will see the child for assessment and treatment.
For a parent, a few minutes spent preparing for your first visit with an occupational therapist or another health-care professional will go a long way to jump-starting the right help in the right way for your child.
Here are 8 helpful things to bring to your first occupational therapy appointment:
- Your list of questions about and priorities for your child. As occupational therapists, we are most interested in what you want for your child. I ask parents, "What is the one thing that would make daily life better for you and your child?"
- Your child's birth history. We like to start at the beginning. I confess I do send a multi-page questionnaire about your child's development and abilities too. I do ask parents to fill out only the pertinent sections because as occupational therapists we help in many areas of development. It also helps you gain a different perspective when you review your child's birth and development over the years.
- Other occupational therapy reports. Yes, if your child has been seen by another occupational therapist, it is so helpful to know what that therapist reported or recommended, even if some time has since passed.
- School work samples. In particular, if we are seeing your child to help with handwriting, we want to see handwriting samples from school. While we will complete a new, thorough assessment of handwriting, it is helpful to see how your child performs at school; it may be different from how your child performs for us.
- Homework samples. Work that is done at home may be different from what is done at school or what is done in front of us.
- School report cards or notes from teachers. I also ask parents to bring a short note from the teacher letting us know what he or she thinks about the challenges of your child's school day.
- Medical reports. We want to know what your child's physician(s) see, test and report on, too. A list of your child's medications and why they are taking them is also insightful.
- Other therapy reports. If your child sees a psychologist, speech-language pathologist or other health professional, do share. Sometimes parents will want to send reports in advance. However, we very much prefer to read and review them with you the parent. We want to know what you think about them, not just what another professional says.