If your child has been diagnosed with a sensory integration (SI) problem, finding the perfect therapist to suit his or her needs is not an easy process. Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a complex and challenging field of therapy, and requires a professional who knows what he or she is doing. When meeting a prospective therapist for the first time, it can be very helpful to come prepared with a list of questions for him or her, including the following:

What is your training in SI?

Sometimes the simplest questions are the most helpful. A great first step in gauging whether a given therapist is right for your child is to get a sense of their knowledge of SPD, and training is a great indicator. There are several SI certification programs out there that your prospective therapist may have taken – one of the best-known is the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT) which has been offered by Sensory Integration International in the past and in recent years by Western Psychological Services (WPS).  If the therapist is not certified in the SIPT, then asking what other coursework they have taken related to sensory integration can be helpful.

What practical experience in SI do you have?

So your child’s prospective therapist has degrees from all Ivy-League schools and a slew of professional memberships to boot? That’s all good and dandy, but there is no substitute for practical, hands-on experience treating children with sensory problems. This doesn’t necessarily have to limit your choices to veteran therapists with decades of experience – there are many fantastic mentorship programs for starting therapists that provide invaluable experience for use in a clinical setting. If your child’s prospective therapist is a bit behind in the clinical-experience department, ask if he or she has gone through any training or mentorship programs that included practical study (this might include fieldwork at a sensory integration clinic or an intensive mentorship program such as those offered by the Spiral Foundation) – the experience a new therapist can gain from these can certainly be enough to make up for a shortage of years in the clinic.

What other types of SI coursework have you taken?

Believe it or not, the best therapist for your sensory-impaired child may not be certified in SI at all! SPD can affect any of the seven human senses, and if your child is severely impaired in one sense more than another, a specialist who has taken SI-related coursework in your child’s area of sensory difficulty may be your best bet. For example, a child with extreme sensitivity to noise may make great progress while under the care of a therapist with heavy coursework on vestibular problems and sound therapy programs.

If you know a therapist who is looking for more experience and training in SI, be sure to refer them to the Sensory Integration Essentials Program here at the Spiral Foundation. This all-new course series for 2014 provides a solid and complete understanding of the ins and outs of SI and sensory problems, and includes hands-on clinical experience working with children with sensory difficulties. Our next course in the series, Essentials of SI Assessment, is coming up fast, so tell them to register today! As always, feel free to reach out to us any time at 617-969-4410 ext. 231 or courses@thespiralfoundation.org.

The Spiral Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and as such your donation is tax deductible.