Tips for Finding an OT

Trying to obtain therapy services? Not sure where to start? Here are some suggestions:

1. Call your local hospital and ask if they have the type of therapy program you need available on an outpatient basis.

2. Remember, if your child is on SSI Medicaid, providers are not allowed to hit you up for cash payments if they accept Medicaid.

3. Have the ‘waiting list’ blues? Our clinic has a waiting list too, but if a parent is a squeaky wheel, they are bumped to the front of that list. If a parent persisted, a spot was found. Quickly.

As you are calling some of these places, first ask if they accept Medicaid, or your type of insurance, then ask if they are able to get your child in right away. Because “s/he is having some serious issues, and you are very concerned.”

4. Insurance. I have a list of codes most commonly paid by insurance carriers for therapy. If you need some advice in this area.

5. There are also organizations, like the Shriner’s and the Elks who provide, free of charge usually, Home services. In many locations, it is once a week, for each therapist, done in your home. You will need to contact your local or state organizations to find what services may be available. This does vary from state to state. This is an option, if you find you have to wait.

6. Age. Find out about your state’s Early Intervention programs (ages 0-3). They evaluate, and provide services, free of charge. I know that some parents prefer private OT’s, PT’s, and SLP’s. My feeling is; something is better than nothing while we wait on the ideal.

7. Your Medicaid may require a referral from a doctor for authorization. If you don’t know the doctors in your area, try an easy way to narrow down that search for a pediatrician who will give you a referral. Simply call one after another, in the local phone book, and ask:

  • “Does this doctor refer children to OT, ST and PT in this area?”
  • “Does s/he refer for Sensory Processing Disorder?” (or insert the diagnosis of your child)”

Usually the nurses and receptionists know the answer, because they do the paperwork, and send the referrals. Also when asked, our OT clinic would not refer a specific doctor, but they would give a list of doctors names to parents, upon request, of those who refer most frequently.

Depends on which you find first, the chicken or the egg? If you find a therapy clinic first, ask them. If you find a doctor first, ask them for clinics who are accepting new patients right now. They know.

— Written by Michelle Morris, 2003