When you learn your child has special needs or a developmental delay, you quickly become familiar with a language of acronyms: OT, PT, SLP, ABA, DIR, IEP, and on and on! There really are a lot of options. Here’s a list of 8 Therapies You May Not Know About. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and not know where to start or which therapy is the best option for your child.
Choosing the best therapy for a child with special needs
Often times, pediatricians are the first stop for resources. Your pediatrician may be on top of the latest therapies and options in your local area, but itf that’s not the case, you might reach out to whichever specialist diagnosed your child. In the United States, each state has an Early Intervention regional center program, offering services to families for free. Make contact with your local center and seek suggestions and advice on programming in your area. The Autism Society of America can help you find a local chapter for resources on therapies and support services.
Check the validity of therapies
Many insurance companies will only cover therapies that are evidence-based and based on scientific principals. Some won’t even cover those! Be sure to weigh all the values and risks before starting any type of therapy that might be considered experimental or not “evidence-based”. You might consider making a list of questions for both your specialists and the therapists you’re considering working with. Be sure all your questions are answered thoroughly and that you have a good understanding of the processes used.
Get to know the therapists
Any therapist working with your child should be properly credentialed in their field, and participate in continuing education and professional development. Be sure the therapist has a history of experience working with individuals and children with the same or similar diagnosis as your child.
Determine the commitment
Some therapies, like Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), are really only taking place during the time the child is meeting with the therapist. However, other therapies like Floortime, require a large time commitment from parents, both in education and in practice. Some insurance companies cover therapies and some don’t. Find out up front how much money each therapy will cost you. Some therapies may be considered short-term, and others much longer-term.
Ask other parents
Parents in a clinic’s waiting room can offer an incredible about of information and experience with both therapies and therapists- even tips and tricks for dealing with insurance companies and even granting organizations that help families with financial aid! Make use of online forums and Facebook groups. You can even join the 35,000+ people on our our Facebook page where you can post a questions and we’ll make sure other parents see it and chime in with helpful answers!
Change it up!
If you’re not feeling good about the direction a particular therapy is headed in, or if you’re not seeing the kind of progress you’d hoped to see, it’s okay to move on. It’s okay to break up with a therapist, or leave a clinic altogether. It’s even completely okay to stop a particular type of therapy and make a switch to something you think might help more. One of the best ways to measure progress is with the Birdhouse app. You can keep notes on each session, or invite your therapist to create an account and enter their own notes in your Birdhouse. All this information can be kept safe in your mobile device and with you at all times so that you can share it with doctors or anyone else on your child’s care team. Of course, you can also use the Birdhouse calendar to keep track of when therapy sessions are, as well as all the information about your therapist. This definitely comes in handy if you become overwhelmed by all the therapies and can’t remember which is on which day and where!