One of the most common questions I get from a new family starting therapy is “What happens during a session?” or “What will you do?” Things have changed since 2020 began and CV19 protocols have thrown a wrench into everything, so I thought I’d write about this and provide some clarity.
Pre-Covid I would have completed the entire assessment in clinic, and observed your child naturalistically in the play space, exploring the room and the toys, while gathering information from the parent(s). This allows the child to play without feeling watched and to see how the child interacts with the parent(s).
Since March, I have obviously had to remove a lot of the tools I use and only use the ones that can be fully sanitized. Now I have transitioned to virtual assessment sessions for information gathering, and when the family is comfortable, doing an in-clinic session for parts of the physical assessment that cannot be done virtually.
Full assessment may take one to three sessions, depending on the amount of standardized testing needed, and depending on how quickly I am able to build rapport and trust with the child and have them open up to me. After assessment is completed, I prefer to schedule a session with just the parents, to discuss assessment results and plans for intervention.
During assessment I will talk you through what I am doing and why, before I begin. However, assessment may look like I’m “just playing” with your child, because I am! I’m also looking at muscle tone, body alignment, eye movement (tracking, convergence, divergence), balance, coordination, attention, cooperation level, awareness of the environment and of others, functional communication skills / the ability to mimic /copy movements, and sensitivity/responsiveness to various sensory input. Depending on the purpose of the referral, I will check grasp and pressure on a pencil, pre-writing and writing skills, determine writing speed, letter formation and the rest of the determinants of legibility. I can do this via standardized test (not so fun for kids) or through play!
I hope this answers some of your questions! Let me know if there is anything else you would like to know!