What is the difference between OT (occupational therapy) and Sensory Integration therapy?

Occupational therapy is a rehabilitation profession licensed in 48 states and regulated in all 50 states.  Sensory Integration is a modality that Occupational therapists use when working with certain types of children.  Sensory Integration, while covered as a topic during a therapist’s education, is not usually taught in-depth.  Therefore therapists interested in using this modality in their practice must seek out specialized training in this technique.  The proper implementation of sensory integration therapy requires specialized equipment including suspended equipment.  Some therapists may use techniques which impact a child’s sensory system, but sensory integration therapy requires specialized, suspended equipment!

What training is essential for therapists who use sensory integration therapy?
In order to use the SIPT (Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests) a therapist must have advanced training.  Sensory Integration International has been certifying therapists in the administration and Interpretation of the SIPT (Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests) since they were standardized in the early 1980’s.  Western Psychological Corporation in conjunction with the University of Southern California OT program has been offering SI training for approximately 10 years. Therapists can be trained by either method to use the SIPT.  The ability to treat using an SI approach is taught clinically and therapists need to work at a facility which specializes in this type of treatment technique in order to know how equipment is used and how to plan intervention which truly works.

Will my insurance cover occupational therapy?
Your insurance company is the one best qualified to answer this question.  There are numerous plans with differing benefits offered by insurance companies and KidAbilities staff is unable to track them all.  However we will work with you in your attempts to access reimbursement.

If my child is under three years old and I notice he/ she is not keeping pace with her peers or has troubling behavior, what should I do?
First you should contact your pediatrician and rule out any medical condition that may account for your child’s difficulty.  If no medical problem is found, you can contact the Department of Health, Early Intervention Program in your county of residence and request an evaluation, which is free.  Should you choose to seek services outside of the county’s EI program you can contact a therapist (psychologist, OT, PT etc) privately.

Can my child get occupational therapy through his preschool/school? 
Your child must “qualify” for services in school.  Your child may be eligible for services through the “Committee on Preschool Special Education” (CPSE) or the “Committee on Special Education” (CSE). The CPSE or the CSE at your school district makes that determination.  If your child qualifies for special education and has an IEP, then they may qualify for OT.  Your child’s problems must be “educationally relevant” in order to receive OT as a “related service” in school.  If your child is “eligible” for special education services you may request an OT evaluation to determine her need for OT treatment.


What if my child has problems that do not interfere with school or his school district does not qualify him for special education?
If you feel your child has difficulties that the school is not addressing, but should, there are steps you can take.  Under the law a parent has “due process” rights. Your school district or NYS Education Department can advise you of those rights. If the school district does not provide service, but you feel your child needs services, you can provide these interventions on a private basis.

What if she does receive special education but the district will not provide OT because they determine her needs are not educationally relevant?
Under the law a parent has “due process” rights. Your school district or NYS Education Department can advise you of those rights. If the school district does not provide service, but you feel your child needs services, you can provide these interventions on a private basis.

If my child is receiving OT in school, but has other non-school related issues, should I pursue additional therapy?
Only a parent can assess to what extent their child’s difficulties influence the quality of his/her life.  If the impact  of your child’s problems on his/her self esteem, peer relationships, functioning within daily routines or successful participation in age appropriate activities is compromised, occupational therapy  can help.

What is involved in therapy, will my child be upset by attending therapy?
When Occupational therapy is done right, children love to attend!  Therapy looks like play (and it is for the child) but the activities are chosen with great specificity for each child.  Children love therapy because a great therapist can establish a relationship with a child and challenge them with the “just right challenge”.  That means that the child learns new skills or copes with previously difficult situations without being overwhelmed or frustrated.

What kinds of problems does occupational therapy address?
Occupational therapy (OT) can benefit a child who has:
• Poor handwriting
• Sensory processing problems
• Sensory sensitivities
• Poor self regulation
• Poor visual motor skills
• Clumsy  or uncoordinated movement
• Decreased strength and endurance
• Fearfulness
• Over or hyperactivity
• Poor attention
• Poor fine or gross motor skills
• Difficulty following daily routines
• Poor coping ability
• Poor balance
• Disorganization
• Inability to focus on the right task