This is a heavy feeling for any parent. There are so many questions and maybe not enough answers because everyone else, like doctors and clinics, do this every day. It's hard to stop and realize in our everyday work that families are new to this, despite us seeing it every single day.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Talk to your child’s pediatrician or your family doctor. Give them concerns you have like abnormal behaviors, extreme picky eating, delays in milestones and get a copy of the referral to take to the clinic of your choice or ask them to put it on hold until you know who you would like to see.
- Scope out potential therapy groups or clinics. Find a list from your insurance of in-network providers. Find out how far each office is from your home, work, childcare. Sometimes there is a tool on the insurance company’s websites and web portals. Check out the group or provider’s website which can have helpful information. They sometimes include financial responsibility forms, attendance policies, and expectations of you as a parent.
- Call your insurance company and ask about coverage for habilitative therapy. The keyword there is—habilitative therapy which means a service that can help one keep, learn or improve versus rehabilitative therapy which helps one regain skills lost to injury, illness, stroke, or accident. You want to ask specifically for exclusions like developmental delay or other diagnoses. Additionally, you should find out what will be your financial obligation if you don’t already know—visit limits, copays, deductible, coinsurance, and out of pocket maximums.
- Prepare for and get evaluated. It seems as if the hardest part is over and it could be depending on how you look at it. The next step is getting evaluated—call and make the appointment. Get on a waiting list if there is one or be flexible if there is an evaluation in another office close by in the same group. Get the paperwork ahead of time. At a minimum spend the week leading up to the appointment filling out the new patient packet. Therapy isn’t quite like taking your children to a new pediatrician, all the little things on the Child History help determine the need for therapy. And it is a lot of paperwork. You will be happy you did it ahead of time when you have a thorough evaluation and the best goals to help your child.
- Get involved in therapy sessions and at home. Be in each therapy session as your schedule allows and put therapy first. The more you listen, participate and incorporate into your regular routine the quicker your child will progress which means less time spent doing therapy later. Trust me you will appreciate the effort you put into it.