Frequently asked questions for all paediatric therapies

How does my child get to see a therapist?

You can refer your own child.

Your GP/ Consultant/ HV/ School Nurse can refer your child

Or your child school/ Nursery refer your child.

If your child is at nursery or school, please speak to their keyworker, teacher or SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) about your concerns.

If your child is not yet in nursery or school, please speak to your Health Visitor.

Parents/persons with parental responsibility will need to give consent to the referral being made.

Our referral process is on the front page of our Children and Young People’s webpage, with all the necessary forms and checklists for our referrers to use.

My child has been referred – how long does it take to be seen?

Our aim is to see all children and young people referred to the service within 18 weeks for assessment and advice.

Where will my child be seen for the assessment?

We have three clinic bases, at the Rainbow Centre in Ashford, The Beacon in Shepway and Buckland Hospital in Dover. The appointment is likely to be at one of these clinics. For contact details please see the main web page.

Depending on their age and difficulty your child could be seen at home (very rarely), nursery, school or clinic. The therapist of a school aged child may ask you to come into clinic initially so they can discuss your concerns outside of the school environment.

What will happen in the assessment session?

The therapist will take a detailed history for your child and discuss your concerns. If your child has all three therapies involved we will only take one case history from you and this will be on your child’s file for others to access. We hope this will make the process more seamless for you and save you repeating yourself.

You can share your concerns as a whole and the therapist can advise you as whether you need to see one of our other therapists in Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy. They will arrange for another professional to see you.

The different therapists have areas they specifically look at relating to your concerns. Please see below:

Physiotherapy Assessment:

A physiotherapist work with babies, children and young people to develop their gross motor skills (such as walking, jumping etc.), aiming to promote independence and to help children and young people to participate and enjoy life.

The physiotherapist will perform a physical examination of the child e.g. joint ranges of movement, muscle power and assess their gross motor skills. It will be necessary for the child to undress to e.g. to vest and shorts/pants, so that we can see their arms and legs as they move and to allow a thorough examination to take place. Older children may wish to bring shorts to wear. In the case of a child with a respiratory problem, the physiotherapist will listen to their chest.

Speech and language Therapy Assessment:

A SLT works with children and young people with speech, language, social communication and feeding difficulties, and children and young people with complex needs 

For many preschool children assessment will involve play and formal (book and toy) based assessment.

Older children tend to be assessed through formal, book based tasks and may be observed in their classroom.

Assessment will vary depending on your child’s age and needs, however it broadly covers the following areas:

  • Understanding of language
  • Use of language
  • Speech sounds – clarity and muscle movement
  • Voice
  • Fluency
  • Attention and listening
  • Social interaction (with adults and friends)
  • Play (if appropriate).

Occupational Therapy Assessment:

An Occupational Therapist provides assessment and a range of therapeutic interventions for children and young people aged 0-19 who have complex, severe or enduring physical and/or developmental conditions that significantly affect their ability to achieve their potential in every-day tasks.

Everyday tasks include:

  • Self-care: getting dressed, using the toilet, preparing and eating meals
  • Productivity: going to or participating at school or college, accessing community facilities and clubs.
  • Leisure: playing sports, shopping with friends, or doing hobbies 

Assessment may include:

  • Talking with you and your child and others involved in the child’s life.
  • Involving other professionals who know your child
  • Observing your child undertaking a range of activities, eg using cutlery, handwriting, manipulating buttons/zips, throwing/catching balls.

What should I bring to the assessment session?

For pre-school children it would be useful for you to bring their red book. If your child takes medication a list of these is useful.

Older children seeing an occupational therapist or physiotherapist might like to bring a pair of shorts to wear.

Will my child be seen on their own?

A child or young person would always been seen on their own with their parent/ carer.

Parents are present at all clinic appointments and all initial appointments if they take place in school.

We offer a mixture of group and individual therapy depending on the child’s needs.

Within school a teaching assistant or a therapy assistant will be expected to observe all therapy sessions in order to support the targets identified.

There are some very specialist assessments where older children may work alone with a therapist for example as part of a Multi-disciplinary Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic assessment. This will be fully explained to parents and young person and an informal chaperone can be requested should this be required.

How often will my child be seen?

This varies and will depend on the assessment of your child’s level of need. It can range from advice and reassurance only at the initial appointment to a series of group or individual sessions which are frequently for 6 weeks. The frequency a child needs to be seen may change as they grow and develop. The aim of the therapy will be explained to you and targets set with a timescale for achievement. A review at the end of these sessions will determine if further therapy is required. If your child has met their targets and expectations and there are no further concerns their therapy will be complete.

What can I do to support my child?

If your child has identified targets you will be informed of these and can support your child with them at home. If your child attends a clinic appointment you will the meet the therapist at each appointment and can discuss your child’s progress and how you can support them at home.

If your child is seen at school you are still welcome to attend the appointment, however it is not a requirement. You will always be informed that the therapist is visiting and you will always be informed of any changes in advice/ targets.

It may be appropriate for you to attend a course such as National Autistic Society Early Bird/ Early Bird+.

What is the end point of therapy?

Once we have completed our assessment and completed our recommendations/therapy we would discharge your child from our service at that time, with the proviso that your child should be referred back to our service at a future point should their needs warrant further assessment.

How do I contact the therapist?

You can contact your local clinic

How long are clinic sessions?

This can vary with the age and ability of your child and their listening and attention skills. An assessment session lasts for around 45 minutes, although those for secondary students may last longer. Follow-up sessions may be approximately 30-45 minutes.

Will I always see the same therapist?

We try to maintain continuity of therapist, particularly for children with social communication disorders, those who are reluctant/selective communicators and those who are shy and those who have very specialist conditions. However, this is not always possible due to staff changes and maternity covers for example.

Please discuss this with your therapist if you have any concerns.

How do I change my appointment?

Please contact your therapist for a routine appointment or for a new assessment please contact the Central Reservation team whose contact number will be at the top of your appointment letter.

Can my child receive therapy in Further Education/ College?

Our services can continue to work with young people in full time education – this is usually 18 years old unless it is a specialist provision when it may continue until the young person leaves at 19 years of age. If your child moves to a Further Education College only advice would be provided at the point of transition.

What other professionals do therapists work with?

All therapists work in partnership with the child and his/her family or carers. We work closely with any professional who has a shared responsibility for meeting your child’s needs such as schools, nurseries, social care teams, health professionals and those involved in community and voluntary agencies. We will ask your permission to contact these agencies and to share our reports with them if we consider this relevant and helpful to ensure the best outcome for your child. You have the right to decide not to share information.

What do I do if there is a problem with my loaned OT/PT equipment?

For any emergencies with equipment that is out on loan, please look at the label on the equipment to find the equipment's serial number and call ICES on 01622 235300. If out of hours there is information on the answer machines of who to contact. Whenever there is a fault with a piece of equipment contact the provider direct and discontinue using the equipment. If leaving a message make sure you leave your name, contact details and where possible the name of the equipment and its serial number and a brief description of what is wrong with the item.

What do I do if there is a problem with my buggy or Wheel Chair?

For any emergencies with a wheelchair or buggy that is out on loan, please contact the Wheelchair repair and maintenance service on 03007 900128