Speech therapist working with girl

What to Expect If Your Child Is Referred to Physical, Occupational or Speech Therapy

Posted on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 by UVM Health Network - CVMC

Larissa O'Grady, PT, DPT, PCS is a physical therapist at CVMC.

So your child got a referral for physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy?

Initially, this may seem overwhelming or even scary, but whatever the challenges your child faces – injury, neurodevelopmental disorders, or genetic conditions – the pediatric team at CVMC Rehabilitation is here to lay the foundation for future success and ongoing support for your child and your family.

It is our hope that this blog can bring some light to what we do and help alleviate some of your uncertainties.

Maximizing Your Child’s Potential

Regardless of whether your child is seeing a physical therapist (PT), occupational therapist (OT), or speech therapist (SLP), our pediatric team can evaluate and develop an age appropriate plan of care that considers the family’s specific goals.


Seumas using a Rifton Pacer gait trainer

Learn how our pediatric therapists are helping Seumas, a 2-year-old with a rare genetic condition, reach his potential.

Read Story

Pediatric Rehabilitation is about more than just building muscle strength and learning isolated skill sets. Our job as pediatric therapists is multi-faceted and aimed at inspiring the child to gain skills and confidence they need to reach their full potential. For one family this may be independent feedings while for another family this may mean obtaining adaptive equipment for family hikes.

Ultimately, our team is committed to nurturing, encouraging and maximizing your child’s potential. This involves not only teaching your child the skills they need to succeed, but then transitioning to the role of ‘coach’ so that the child learns to be their own monitor and feedback system for the skill sets they use on a day to day basis.

Child and Family-Centered Approach

Pediatric rehabilitation benefits from a child and family-centered approach. This means practicing and developing skills each session and then teaching the child and family how to carryover those skills outside of sessions for ongoing practice.

This is critical to the child’s progress because as clinicians, we only spend approximately one hour a week with each patient. If you consider current research that suggests a typical developing toddler walks 36 football fields a day and falls 17 times an hour...that is a LOT of opportunities to practice skills learned in rehab every day!

Parents who take an active role in their child’s therapy experience not only understand the rationale for interventions and home programs but also walk away with the knowledge on how to support their children at home and out in the community. Our aim is always to maximize progress to achieve their individual goals.

A Collaborative Effort

At CVMC Rehabilitation, the pediatric therapists are fortunate to work within the same building and are afforded time to collaborate on patient cases. For children who have multiple team members, we frequently communicate with each of them as appropriate, such as school based rehab clinicians, primary care physicians, orthotists and personal care assistants.

Working with and learning from all of a child’s care givers ensures that the child’s goals and progress remain at the heart of therapy.

Plus, We Are a Whole Lot of Fun!

Enough of the serious stuff though—what your child really needs to know is that pediatric rehabilitation means FUN! You cannot spell functional without FUN and it is important that your child enjoy their rehab sessions.

The pediatric team will encourage your child to participate in age appropriate activities and functional play to develop various skill sets. This may sound like a lot of work but masked behind obstacle courses, puzzles, slides and brain games your child will not know the difference! 

We hope this blog has helped you understand more about what you and your child can expect when referred to pediatric rehabilitation therapy. To get an insider view, please read Seumas’ story.

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