Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I determine if services are appropriate?
A: Once you have contacted South Shore Therapies, we will arrange for one of our clinicians to contact you and discuss your concerns. Based on that conversation we can determine the appropriate evaluations, consultation or treatment that can best serve your child. If services are required we will work with you to set up appointment dates and times that work within your daily schedule.
Q: Will my insurance cover services?
A: South Shore Therapies is a participating (“In-Network”) provider within Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, and Neighborhood Health networks. We are an “Out of Network” provider for all other insurance plans. In order for services to be billable to an insurance plan other than Blue Cross, Harvard Pilgrim or Neighborhood Health, your plan must have “Out of Network” benefits. We recommend you contact the member services number shown on your insurance card and ask them if you have Out of Network benefits for Speech and Language and/or Occupational Therapy. They should be able to give you information as to your deductible, copays and visit limits as well as any restrictions your policy may have. We also recommend that you document the date of your call and the representative you spoke with or a confirmation number pertaining to your conversation for future reference if needed.
Q: What is the insurance process?
A: South Shore Therapies will contact your insurance company and determine the specifics of your coverage. Once this is completed we will contact you to go over the information we obtained from your insurance company. If a referral or prior authorization is required we will go over that with you as well.
Q: What other information should I provide to South Shore Therapies?
A: We will ask you to fill out a comprehensive Developmental History to provide us with additional information on your child’s development and current functioning. We may also ask you to have the school complete a Sensory and Motor checklist so we can gather information about the child in the school environment. In addition to this any Neuropsychological, Educational, Speech and Language, Occupational, or Physical Therapy evaluations that have been completed will assist us in developing a more complete clinical picture. If your child is on an IEP at school, this information can be helpful as well.
Q: How does therapy at SST differ from the service my child can get in school?
A: Services provided by the public school system are based on the child’s ability to function within the academic environment and therefore must be considered “academically relevant”. The interpretation of this definition varies between school systems, but in general means that support services, including speech or occupational therapy, will be provided if they are relevant to the child’s successful academic development. Occupational therapy within the schools most commonly addresses fine motor skill development and handwriting which are relevant to classroom performance. Speech therapy focuses on curriculum based language intervention. At South Shore Therapies, therapeutic programs will be developed based on the needs of the child within their many environments and different roles. We will work to develop relevant goals to address difficulties the child is having in successful participation in all environments and tasks of daily life.
Q: How can I help support my child’s progress at home?
A: Intervention at South Shore Therapies is an ongoing, changing plan that encompasses the goal-directed work during therapy sessions and ongoing parent and client education. Your ability to effectively support your child’s progress at home will come from understanding the underlying foundations that are impacting behavior and skill development, as well as incorporating home program strategies into your family’s daily activities. Additional knowledge can be gained by attending our evening overviews or reading resources in our parent lending library book list. In addition, your SST therapist will provide you with home programs and activities relevant to your child’s specific goals.
Occupational Therapy FAQ
Q: What does a pediatric occupational therapist do since a child does not have a job?
A: An individual’s occupations change over time. An infant’s main endeavor is to develop the ability to regulate their bodies and communicate when they are comfortable or uncomfortable. A pre-schooler works on the tasks of exploring, playing and learning age-appropriate motor skills, activities of daily living, and social behaviors. Once in school, the child develops greater refinements in skill for academic learning and pre-vocational development, including tool use, planning and organizational skills, problem solving, and independent task follow through. A pediatric occupational therapist will address the foundations and specific skills the individual needs at each stage of development to ensure greater success in the skills of daily living.
Q: What is the correct terminology to use for a child with sensory difficulties?
A: The terms used to describe sensory difficulties vary between clinicians and medical professionals. In current research, the term sensory processing disorder (SPD) is being used to identify children and adults with difficulties in sensory processing, sensory integration, and sensory defensiveness.
Q: What is Sensory Defensiveness?
A: Sensory defensiveness is a term used to describe ‘over responsiveness’ to certain sensations such as touch, vision, auditory, movement and smell sensations. When a sensory event occurs our brain quickly decides if that event is important and needs a response. For example, if your hand closes around a coffee cup that is too hot you will quickly pull away. Individuals with sensory defensiveness tend to have strong responses like this to events that are not truly threatening. They may respond more strongly than other children to a variety of typical sensory events such as having their face washed, getting socks on in the morning, the sound of a vacuum cleaner, the smells, tastes or texture of foods or busy situations such as a mall or grocery store.
Q: What is proprioception?
A: This is our sixth sense that comes from sensory receptors in our muscles and joints. Our muscles provide us with information about what position our body parts are in. For example, without looking at them, you can tell if your elbows or knees are bent or straight. Our muscles and joints also give us information as we move in space, such as walking up a familiar flight of stairs in the dark and knowing just how to lift your leg and where to place your foot. The proprioceptive sense helps us grade the force of our movements as well. Your muscles register how heavy the milk carton is and help you pour with the right speed and force so it does not spill all over. This sense is extremely important for developing body awareness and motor coordination.
Q: What is a sensory diet?
A: The sensory diet is made up of the sensory-based activities and strategies that can be incorporated into daily routines to help the child maintain a better-regulated state of arousal and enhance body awareness prior to performing skilled tasks.
Q: Will my child outgrow sensory difficulties without intervention?
A: Although children may develop strategies to be more successful over time with sensory events, they will not outgrow Sensory Processing Disorder without intervention. They may become effective in avoiding situations that are overwhelming to them such as stating that they are “too tired” to go play outside or they don’t need to wear a coat because they are not cold. Other times, children can become somewhat rigid in their interactions with the sensory world, such as eating only a small repertoire of foods or wearing the same clothes almost every day. With intervention, the child’s nervous system can be changed, and the ability to process sensation can be improved. Biological research has shown that with therapy, the interference of sensory processing dysfunction with daily life tasks will be greatly minimized.
Q: What is visual perception?
A: Visual perception is how visual information is interpreted and used by the brain. It entails the ability to perceive the details, subtleties and spatial aspects of a visual image. A visual perceptual problem may include difficulty with
- visual discrimination (consistently recognizing shapes, colors letters or numbers)
- visual memory (remembering a seen image for later use)
- form constancy (recognizing an object regardless of its spatial orientation)
- figure ground (identifying a figure in a complex background, such as hidden pictures)
- spatial relations (perceiving how objects relate in space, such as accurate spacing between letters)
Q: Can you explain what activities of daily living are?
A: Activities of daily living are the basic tasks of everyday life such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, sleep, leisure skills and moving efficiently through the environment (functional mobility). An occupational therapist works with the individual to help them become both proficient and independent in age-appropriate activities of daily living.
Q: How does visual-motor integration relate to handwriting?
A: Visual motor integration combines the ability to visually perceive a form and reproduce it with a motor response. For example, the ability to look at a circle drawn on a page and draw that form. This is an important component in learning to write letters and numbers. A child needs to be able to perceive the difference between a 5 and a 2 and move the pencil accurately to make the numbers legible and in the correct orientation.
Speech and Language FAQ
Q: What is the difference between speech and language?
A: Language is a code that is made up of a series of rules which we use to express our wants and needs. Forms of language include reading and writing, gesturing, and talking. Speech is the actual spoken form of language.
Q: What is the difference between receptive and expressive language?
A: Receptive language is the language that an individual understands. Receptive tasks include being able to identify objects and actions, act out (follow directions), and make judgments about the appropriateness of a word or a sentence. Expressive language is the language that an individual produces. Expressive language begins with the use of gestures and sounds and progresses up to production of sentences within conversation.
Alternative forms of expressive language may include use of sign language or augmentative supports such as pictures or high-tech voice output devices.
Q: Will problems with hearing affect my child’s speech and language development?
A: Yes. Parents should ensure that their child participates in regular hearing evaluations with an audiologist. This is especially important if your child has a history of ear infections, allergies, or frequent illness. It is important that your child’s hearing be assessed as early as possible because the earlier in life a hearing loss is detected, the better the potential for a child’s learning through speech, hearing, or other avenues of communication.
Q: What is an auditory processing disorder?
A: Auditory processing is how auditory information is interpreted and used by the brain. Auditory processing disorders may include difficulty with (among MANY others):
- Discrimination of sounds
- Auditory memory
- Making inferences based on information heard
- Following directions
- Separating background noise from foreground noise
- Recognizing individual sounds in words
- Identifying the number of sounds in words
Q: My child repeats sounds and words sometimes when he or she is trying to tell me something. Is this a stutter and should I be worried?
A: All young children experience repetitions and hesitations in their speech due to the difficulty of learning language. Normal dysfluencies may include the repetition of words and/or phrases, hesitations in speech, and fillers such as “uh” and “um”. It is generally believed that this is typical in children up through the age of 5 years. There are of course exceptions to this general belief and if you have questions it is best to talk to a speech-language pathologist who can determine if there are any factors contributing to the child’s dysfluency.
Q: What is a social language disorder?
A: A social language disorder is also referred to as a pragmatic language disorder. Pragmatics is the area of language that is concerned with appropriate use of language for communication. Children who exhibit social language disorders may exhibit some of the following characteristics which can lead to strained interactions with peers:
- Decreased eye contact with communication partner
- Personal space issues
- Inability to read or use various facial expressions
- Difficulty requesting items or actions appropriately
- Problems interpreting and conveying emotions appropriately
- Difficulty taking turns within games
- Problems maintaining a topic of conversation or taking turns within a conversation
- Inability to take another person’s perspective