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Finding The Right Physical Or Occupational Therapist

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

How to balance you knowing your child and family best with all the options available to you

This summer at Next Steps Therapies seems to be about our families figuring out what works best for them when given all the available options out there and what they is the right way to do something or right choice to make. Here are some factors to think about when choosing services and where Next Steps Therapies stands in relation to all the options.

#1 - Knowing what Setting is right for You and Your Child

There are many settings PT or OT can take place such as at school, in a clinic, at home, in the community, or virtual. Take the time to think through where you would like the most support, where your child is most engaged, and what setting would work best in your life.

At Next Steps Therapies we are focused on what works best for each individual child and family, This means being there to support in the natural environment where each child may require extra support. We can travel to children's schools and daycares to provide services, go into your home, meet you in the community area you would like extra support, and provide virtual services.

Our parent coaching can happen over zoom or through a phone call, and give flexible times such as during your commute or lunch break to be as flexible as you need for your life. Part of why we provide parent coaching because sometimes children don't work well with new or different adults and do best when their familiar parents or caregivers guide them naturally through their daily lives.

We can suggest which location would be best for your child but we want to hear where you think would be most beneficial. Even the setting is a way to be a part of your child's therapy team. At Next Steps Therapies we want to hear from you about what your are hoping to get from the therapy location. Our values are for our services to be as accessible and as fun and engaging as possible.

#2 - Philosophy

Think through what your family values are and look to see if the therapists philosophy matches them. Look to see if you can find a therapists values or philosophy on their website. Do they have a clearly defined spot for it on their website or do you have a clear understanding of what their therapy philosophy is after going through their website. Don't be afraid to ask them too when reaching out about services!

At Next Steps Therapies believe that part of our role is to make parents and caregivers more confident. That could be through finding peace at what your child's sensory processing looks like, knowing how to keep their child safe when navigating the community, or finding the right tools and customizing them for the child and family so they can be implemented consistently.

We believe that the end goal is happy children. We want kids to be able to do whatever they want to do and be as independent as possible through increasing skills, adapting the environment, or modifying the task. We believe that when kids skills increase through meaningful and purposeful ways they are happier.

We believe that when you combine those two things, that is where get the big gains.

At Next Steps Therapies we also believe that you cannot have this without being neurodiversity affirming and strengths based. We help parents be confident in knowing how to see and use their child's strengths to grow ,while guiding them to see who their child is and supporting their growth without limiting or trying to change who their child is. Children cannot be happy when they are not seen in their entirety or accepted for who they are.

#3 - Knowledge

Look to see what education, trainings, certifications, and background your therapists have. Therapists should list their specialty areas and certifications on their website. If you don't see the area your child specifically needs help with, ask the therapist before signing up for services.

Here at Next Steps Therapies we value continually building and growing our knowledge base, and we think one of the best ways to learn is on the job. Amanda and Jackie have both worked in Early Intervention (birth to three). This brings so much value and knowledge into our services because without knowing development you cannot support a child to their fullest in a systematic, skill building way. All of our past work on the job experience supports us in being flexible and adaptable. It allows us to think critically in the moment, adapting what strategies we use in the moment based on how each child presents in each moment, and creates a large repertoire strategies we can pull from. We have also worked in settings where we have seen pre-schoolers to college age students with all multitudes of disabilities and levels of medical needs. This includes Autism, Down Syndrome, multiple complex medical conditions, and cystic fibrosis. We continually build our knowledge base through trainings and certifications including therapeutic listening, handwriting programs, SOS Feeding Program, Zones of Regulation, interoception, brain gym, reflex integration, neurodiversity affirming practice, infant massage, and kinesiotape for pediatrics.

You want to make sure your therapist is board certified through APTA or AOTA. You can also go online and view if your therapist is truly certified in the programs they are using or if they have just completed a course.

#4 - Communication

Look to see how your therapist communicates. Are they responsive to the way you communicate best? Do they respond in a timely manner? Are they able to give suggestions and also validate the experiencing you are having with your child? Is it HIPPA compliant?

At Next Steps Therapies we use a secure platform that allows for you share any medical information that is needed, message back and forth, and request or cancel appointments. We feel that communication throughout the week helps build a sense of collaboration and we love to see what is working or not working in your everyday lives. We also use a model that asks for parents or caregivers to be included as a part of the therapy process. We want you to know what is being worked on, watch us model and adapt based on how your child responds, and have ample time to ask questions and create a plan with us. If you choose a parent coaching method you get 30 minutes to an hour a week to talk through what is working what is not working, clarify strategies, and work with us to tweak what hasn't been working to better fit your child's needs or your everyday life. By being a part of your child's therapy session you have the entire time to ask your questions and problem solve how you can carryover what is happening in a session during everyday life.

#5 - Collaboration

Does your child's therapist look for collaboration with you or do they keep therapy separate and quickly give suggestions at the end?

At Next Steps Therapies we believe that each parent or caregiver is the expert in their child and their family unit. They know immediately what strategies they can implement and which ones they can't, and we value that information. We want to collaborate with families and their honesty about what they realistically can and can't implement supports us to better help each child. Our goal at the end is for your child to be successful in everyday life, and without parents input we wouldn't be able to do that. So often we see parents feel guilty that they can't do all the perfect parenting strategies shown on social media, or are fearful to tell us they don't see themselves doing a strategy we show or talk about. We are here to support you and tweak those social media strategies in a way that best fits into your real life. Never going to be a parent that makes up an obstacle course? Great! There are so many other sensory strategies or ways to adapt our go to strategies that can meet your kids sensory needs. Look for a therapist that wants your input and values your honesty so that they can provide better more target strategies that actually work for you!

Next Steps Therapies

Jackie is board certified through APTA and licensed in NH and MA. She graduated with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Quinnipiac. Jackie has worked in early intervention, outpatient clinics, and hospital settings. She is experienced in working with children of all ages with gross motor delays, neuro-muscular diagnoses, gait abnormalities, pediatric pulmonary conditions, birth to , pediatric exercise interventions, and complex medical conditions. She is certified in infant massage and kineiotape for pediatrics.

Amanda is board certified through AOTA and licensed in MA. She graduated with a Masters in Occupational Therapy from Ithaca College. Amanda has worked in early intervention, outpatient clinics, and the school setting. She is experienced working with children of all ages with multiple and complex medical conditions, sensory processing, emotional regulation, executive functioning, feeding difficulties, fine motor delays, Autism, Down Syndrome, and life skills. She has trainings and certifications in SOS Feeding Program, Therapeutic Listening, Handwriting without Tears, Size Matters Handwriting Program, Brain Gym, Zones of Regulation, Interoception, neurodiversity affirming practice, and retained reflexes.

Want To Learn More?

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If home and community based therapy, parent coaching, or consultation models of service feel like the right fit for you, please reach out to us:

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