You've just gotten of the phone with your boss. He isn't happy you've taken off a day, but you've got to! Your oldest is home from day care and you don't think they will let him back. You have to figure out what to do but can't figure out what your next step is. You look at the screen and wonder, where do I go from here? You dial the pediatrician, and hope she has an idea or two.
Click Next to find some answers. Part 2 of 3 part series.
Now that you know something is wrong, where do you go? Many parents go straight to their pediatricians. This is a great idea! Unfortunately, pediatricians can be very busy and may not know all the choices for pediatric mental health in your area. They may have a short list of occupational therapists, professional counselors, and psychiatrists, but they may not know all of them. So how can you be the most informed?
- TAKE a list of pediatric providers on your healthcare panel with you to your appointment. Your pediatrician may discover the answer to the problem and you might not need a referral. But if you do, knowing who is on your insurance panel is helpful to deciding who you will see. If your pediatrician doesn’t know or care for anyone on that panel, that tells you it is time to look outside your insurance.
- ASK if this could be sensory integration issues. Our minds and bodies are interwoven in complex ways we are just beginning to understand. Your child may be extremely sensitive to sounds, tastes, visual cues, or extremely under-sensitive to the position of their bodies. There is evidence that these issues can be assisted with occupational therapy and even some fun activities you might remember from childhood — mud pies, playing in sand, swings, jumping around, etc. Asking for your pediatrician’s take on this gives you a good idea as to where to look for help in understanding your child. If they believe its emotional or psychological related, play therapy may help.
- ASK if this could be an emotional/psychological issue. Play therapy is a modality that uses play to express feelings, problem solve, and work out issues with toys and play. There is a growing body of research that shows its effectiveness in helping a host of behavioral and emotional issues in childhood and beyond (Find a therapist in your area). I am a play therapy provider and working with pediatricians, daycares, schools, and families to understand and help children grow is my passion.
- DON’T jump at giving your child a medicine for their behavior before you have tried some other approaches. Medication for behavior problems is difficult and always has an element of experimentation to it. The side effects of medication can also be surprising and may mask the true issues. Finding the right help for your family may take some time, but it will ultimately help you and your child.
- INTERVIEW the prospective professional. There are great occupational therapists who aren’t going to be right for your child. In Play Therapy, it is even more important to understand who is working with your child. Psychological interventions are very personal, are greatly affected by world view, and depend upon the relationship the child has with their therapist and the relationship their therapist has with you! Both of you must like and respect the therapist and the therapist must be someone trained in what you need. Choosing your therapist based on insurance panel may be a costly mistake.
Are you looking at needing a professional for your child or family member? Talk to me! I know lots in my area, but I can also give you some priceless information on how to interview the person you choose. Christy@christygrahamlpc.com or 940-597-9635. Or you can watch for the final article in this 3 part series entitled How To Choose A Therapist For Your Child.
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