Most parents and caregivers are experts in understanding their children’s needs and in doing whatever they can to support them.
Sometimes, a child’s needs might lead families and caregivers to look to a professional for help and support.
This is where some families or caregivers might find themselves scheduling an evaluation with a physical therapist or occupational therapist.
If you’ve never worked with a pediatric physical therapist or pediatric occupational therapist you might feel a little anxious.
This might be a new experience for you and for your child and you might be unsure of what to expect.
You may also be feeling hope or excitement.
If your child has been facing challenges in their development or in participating in everyday activities, you’re probably eager to learn if physical therapy or occupational therapy might benefit them.
Before you and your child can work towards a treatment plan, the first step will be to participate in an evaluation.
Here at Little Feet Therapy, one of the pediatric therapy services we offer is evaluations and screenings. If you suspect your child may have a disability or another condition that affects their development, we can help.
In this next section we’ll take a closer look at pediatric physical therapy evaluations. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is A Pediatric Physical Therapy Evaluation?
You’ve been waiting for the opportunity for your child to participate in physical therapy and now it’s finally here, right?
Before a physical therapist can work on a treatment plan with your child, they first need to understand the challenges they’ve been facing to work with them in a way that will benefit them most.
This is why the first session with your pediatric physical therapist is an evaluation with your child.
Before you leave for the appointment, it’s a good idea to make sure your child is wearing lose clothes they can easily move during the evaluation. If your child is an infant, it is a good idea to make sure they are able to have bare feet, this means no onesies with footies.
Your child’s physical therapist may have them do some simple movements as part of the evaluation process.
There may be other things you’re asked to do to help your child prepare for the evaluation, but don’t worry, that information will be communicated to you during the booking process.
It’s important to remember that a physical therapy evaluation isn’t a pass or fail test.
It’s all about getting to know the unique needs of your child.
What exactly happens during the evaluation? We’ll take a closer look at the details in this next section.
What Happens During A Pediatric Physical Therapy Evaluation?
During a physical therapy evaluation, the therapist will talk with you and your child to get a clearer sense of their needs and everyday challenges.
They may also ask about your family history and if your child has received any other therapies or medical diagnoses.
It’s important to be open and to try to answer any questions your physical therapist asks as clearly and honestly as possible to help them better understand your child’s needs and perform an accurate evaluation.
Next, the physical therapist will get your child to participate in a few activities to assess any or all of the following:
- Range of motion
- The condition of your child’s joints, muscles, and tissue
This evaluation also includes a standardized test to help you understand where your child’s abilities fall in relation to the milestones they’re expected to have reached at their age.
Your pediatric physical therapist works with children all the time, so they’ll know how to walk your child through the evaluation in a way that’s kid friendly and not scary. In fact, many children enjoy the process, as it feels like a special play time for them.
Conditions Your Pediatric Physical Therapist Can Diagnose
A pediatric physical therapy evaluation can help you understand if your child needs:
- Physical therapy for torticollis
- Physical therapy for plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome)
- Physical therapy for autism spectrum disorder
- Physical therapy for cerebral palsy
- Physical therapy for Down syndrome
- Physical therapy for developmental delays
- Physical therapy for gross motor skills issues
- Physical therapy for childhood injuries
- Physical therapy for posture issues
- Physical therapy for floppy baby syndrome
- Physical therapy for toe walking
- Physical therapy for clubfoot
- Physical therapy for muscular dystrophy
- Physical therapy for fetal alcohol syndrome
- Physical therapy for hypotonia
- Physical therapy for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Physical therapy for scoliosis
- Physical therapy for spina bifida
- Physical therapy for gait abnormalities
- Physical therapy for poor balance
- Physical therapy for decreased coordination
- And many more…
Contact Little Feet Therapy today to schedule your pediatric physical therapy evaluation.
What Is An Occupational Therapy Evaluation?
The term occupational therapy might seem a bit confusing when you’re relating it to a child.
A child doesn’t have to worry about being able to perform a paying job, they simply get to go to school and be a kid.
However, for some children, it’s not that easy.
They may face challenges that interfere with their school performance and with their ability to function and play.
If your child is struggling with these issues, you may have already looked into having them work with an occupational therapist.
Just like working with a physical therapist, before an occupational therapist can develop a treatment plan for your child, they need to perform an evaluation.
Maybe you’ve tried a number of different therapies or techniques to help your child with everyday activities, but nothing is working.
The great thing about an occupational therapy evaluation, is that the evaluation process can not only help the occupational therapist understand why your child is having difficulties, but it can also help you and other people in the child’s support circle such as teachers or helpers.
This is because the occupational therapist will be able to share some of their insights from the evaluation process with you.
While it’s clear an occupational therapy evaluation can be beneficial, you may be wondering what actually happens during the appointment?
Read on to learn more.
What Happens During An Occupational Therapy Evaluation?
During the evaluation, the occupational therapist will ask a variety of questions to help inform them about your child’s unique needs. If any sensory concerns are present, your occupational therapist may also have you fill out a questionnaire.
They will also have your child participate in activities or ask you questions to get a sense of any or all of the following:
- How your child approaches fine motor skills such as crafting (coloring, using scissors, etc.)
- What self-help skills your child utilizes in their day-to-day routines like bathing and eating
- How your child interacts with others and uses fine motor skills when playing sports or games
- How your child reads and writes
- What sort of routines your child has at home and in school
- How your child approaches self-regulation
- If any sounds, smells, or textures seem to bother your child
- How your child responds to directions and attends to tasks
Some of the questions an occupational therapist asks during an evaluation may seem unrelated to the problems your child is facing, but they’re important to help the therapist understand the bigger picture of how your child learns, interacts, and processes information.
This evaluation also includes a standardized metric to help you understand where your child falls from a developmental perspective in relation to what’s expected for their age.
Ultimately, the evaluation process will help the therapist understand what routines and challenges they can introduce to your child overtime to help them add to their toolbox and develop their skills.
Conditions Your Pediatric Physical Therapist Can Diagnose
If your child has one of the following issues, a pediatric occupational therapist can help you understand whether they need:
- Occupational therapy treatments for sensory processing disorder
- Occupational therapy treatments for toe walking
- Occupational therapy treatments for handwriting difficulties
- Occupational therapy treatments for autism spectrum disorder
- Occupational therapy treatments for social skills development
- And many more…
- Occupational therapy treatments for self care skills development
- Occupational therapy treatments for ADHD and other attention disorders
- Occupational therapy treatments for fine motor skills issues
- Occupational therapy treatments for kids with birth injuries
Entering the world of pediatric therapy with your child can be a big, but also a rewarding step.
It’s important to ask questions and find the right path forward for your child.
Book Your Appointment With Little Feet Therapy Today