Skill Builders
Speech-Language and Occupational Therapy  
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Occupational Therapy - FAQ

Skill Builders' occupational therapy practice has been led by director Gina Kane since its founding in 1987. Under her leadership, we have served the Northern Virgina and Greater Washington DC communities for more than 20 years. We have provided some initial information to frequently asked questions below; please do not hesitate to contact us directly at (703) 750-2443 or if you have additional questions.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a health services profession that utilizes goal-directed activities, appropriate to each person's age and social role, to restore, develop, and/or maintain the ability for independent, satisfying living. Occupational therapists evaluate, treat, and consult with individuals whose abilities to cope with the tasks of everyday living, "occupations", are threatened or impacted by physical illness or injury, psychosocial disability, and/or developmental delays.  Occupational therapists work in hospitals, schools, rehabilitation agencies, private practices, long-term-care facilities, community-based clinics, and other health-care organizations.  (Adapted from the American Occupational Therapy Association Definition)

Occupational therapists that specifically work with infants, preschool, and school-aged children work closely with families, teachers, and other related professionals to assist children in being more comfortable in their own bodies and more productive and successful in their daily occupations.  Typical occupations of young children include drawing, writing, self-dressing, climbing, creative play, etc...  Pediatric occupational therapy incorporates fun, therapeutic activities that address concerns affecting the child's ability to functionally  participate in these occupations, by using play as a medium of intervention.

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What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory integration is "the organization of sensations for use".  (A Jean Ayres, Ph.D.)  This means using all the five senses, plus the additional "senses" of movement and muscle/joint position.  Sensory integration enables us to enjoy our interactions with the people and things that surround us.
Sensory integration dysfunction occurs when this "automatic" process has a glitch - and the person strongly dislikes certain sensory experiences or, conversely, craves certain sensations (such as intense spinning, finger painting along the arms, etc.).  When sensory preferences interfere with a person's freedom to move comfortably throughout a typical day, then, there may be a sensory integration dysfunction.

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How do I know if my child needs Occupational Therapy?

A child who has difficulty with tasks expected of his age group, avoids activities that interest most of his peers, or seeks out extra touch or movement opportunities may be experiencing a sensory-motor difficulty.  A parent who observes these signs may benefit from consulting with an occupational therapist.  Depending on the nature of the concerns, a variety of different options could be available. 

Some signs of possible difficulties include:otpic2

  • Clumsiness
  • Distractibility
  • Frustration with schoolwork
  • Handwriting difficulties
  • Poor organizational skills
  • Resistance to touch or certain clothing textures
  • Difficulty establishing hand dominance
  • Strong cravings for physical contact or tactile experiences
  • Strong cravings for movement
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What does Skill Builders offer?

Skill Builders offers 

  • A staff of experienced, licensed occupational therapists
  • Evaluations - including the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests
  • Individual treatment sessions tailored to each client's specific needs
  • Group sessions
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Coordination with speech-language pathologists
  • Sessions utilizing stimulating, state-of-the-art equipment in a fun, exciting atmosphere
  • Consultation with teachers and the client's school
  • Home/school visits
  • Preschool consultation/screenings (see below)
  • Presentations/workshops for parents, teachers, and general community
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What does a typical evaluation cover?

Skill Builders offers several types of initial evaluations.  All ages can receive a full evaluation of fine motor, sensory-motor, and visual-motor skills.  When indicated the complete Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT) is administered.  For children aged 6 years and up who have specific sensory or fine motor/handwriting concerns, a one hour consultative session may be appropriate.  All types of evaluations and consults incorporate input from the parents, and include initial follow-up suggestions.

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What are the services offered to preschools?

Skill Builders offers the Balzer-Martin Preschool Screening of sensory-motor skills at preschools that request this service.  Children are seen in pairs for this 20 minute screening.  Parent and teacher checklists provide additional information about each child's day to day responses to touch, movement, sounds, body awareness, and school readiness activities.  
Skill Builders is happy to provide in-services for teachers and parents on topics such as hand skill development, writing readiness, and sensory-motor processing. 

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What are some commonly asked questions?

1.) How long will my child be in therapy?
Each child's participation in  in OT is based on his/her individual needs and the availability of the family.  Some children attend weekly OT sessions, while others are monitored on a monthly basis.  We see most children for an average of two years, with changes made in frequency of sessions, as possible.  Progress re-evaluations, on-going input from the parents, and updates from the teachers and other professionals involved, are used to determine the most appropriate “graduation” date.

2.) Will my insurance cover OT?
Skill Builders provides current diagnostic and procedural codes on each billing statement, as required by insurance companies, for the family to submit.  While we are not listed as providers with any insurance plans, most insurance companies do cover portions of OT services.  Each person’s policy differs, so it is best to check with your plan manager or call the insurance company directly to determine coverage.  Please let us know what requirements, if any, your insurance company has for pre-authorization, prior to your first visit.

3.) Can sensory integration concerns be addressed at school?
School OT services are provided with an emphasis on academically-related issues.  Many times sensory integration concerns have an impact on school performance, and adaptations can be made to help the child function within the busy school environment, acknowledging his sensory needs.

4.) Can I do anything at home to help my child?
There are many ways to provide additional sensory comfort and sensory experiences at home, often during quiet times, bath time, playground outings and snack times.  At Skill Builders, we work with families to create a “sensory diet” for use at home and school -- just as we look for variety in the foods that we eat, we need variety in our daily sensory experiences.  These sensory and sensory-motor activities can be mixed in with the “regular” day-to-day events at home, and can be fun for the whole family!

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List of Websites/Helpful Information:

Check out our Resources page for a list of websites that provide useful information for parents and teachers regarding a variety of topics including sensory integration and occupational therapy.



Skill Builders LLC
Annandale - McLean
(703) 750-2443 (OT)
(703) 941-7757 (Speech)
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