Getting help through pediatric OT and PT services

Therapist working with a little girl and blocks

Many families ask how to get their children enrolled in physical, occupational or speech therapy.

If you’re a parent and noticing motor or speech delays in your child, a good place to start is at the pediatrician’s office. Pediatricians are excellent at screening motor milestones, listening to parents’ concerns, and making the appropriate referral to one of our outpatient locations. We see children diagnosed with developmental delay, torticollis, cerebral palsy, injury/trauma, toe walking/difficulty walking, hemiplegia, sensory processing disorder, feeding difficulties, incontinence, and various other diagnoses. A child will require a script from the physician that states physical therapy, occupational therapy and/or speech therapy: evaluate and treat.

Another time when a child may require our services is upon discharge from the hospital. We recommend that all children discharged from the NICU receive evaluations from our skilled team of clinicians. Even while the child is in the hospital, he may also receive our services. At the time of discharge, the clinician or the physician may make the referral to one of our five outpatient locations: Royal Oak, Grosse Pointe, West Bloomfield, Macomb and the Center for Exceptional Families located in Dearborn, depending on which location is closest to your home. A good tip is to have the physician at the hospital include the script along with the discharge paperwork. Once the script is obtained, the parent just has to call the office and set up an appointment time.

All of our locations believe in a team approach in order to treat the child holistically. Our specialized therapists collaborate with the patient’s family and team of physicians to develop customized treatment plans. We typically see children from birth to age 16, although sometimes patients are older depending on the diagnosis. At the time of the evaluation, the clinician will recommend the most appropriate frequency to achieve success. The frequency is generally highest at the initiation of treatment and then decreases as the child meets his or her goals over time.

Each child progresses at his or her own rate and the treatment plan is tailored to success. The treatment sessions are individual; however the child may be recommended for a group session which is offered year round. We see success from the individual treatment sessions and the groups. Sometimes children progress quicker in a group setting along with their peers, and it can be fun. Some of our most popular groups are: dance, yoga, little crunchers/big munchers (feeding groups), social groups and handwriting without tears.

Eventually the child will be discharged from therapy services when the individual goals are met or when services are no longer recommended. However discharge doesn’t mean goodbye forever. We may close the child’s chart for a period of time, but we recommend that parents keep us updated on their child’s progress and home exercise program success. It’s not uncommon for children to require additional services as they grow and encounter new challenges.

Our team is here to support your child’s growth and optimize their success.

– Christina Paniccia PT, DPT, is a pediatric supervisor at Neighborhood Club, Beaumont, Grosse Pointe.

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