Real questions from real parents, answered here!
What does ConTiGO mean?
When we first started our groups we wanted a name that was fun to say and that did not scream “THERAPY!” to kids in our groups. Over time as we solidified our treatment model, we developed the concept of Connection with peers & Transformation through therapy in the Great Outdoors: ConTiGO! It is fitting that in Spanish, “contigo” means “with you”…the therapists at OKOT truly want to be WITH you in fostering the healthy development of your child.
Do the kids in each ConTiGO Kids group have similar or different diagnoses?
While every group is different based on the needs of the kids who enroll, we do review all registration forms to make sure the kids seem a "good fit". We've found in our experience that a variety of different diagnoses work best in a group- rather than grouping kids based on diagnosis. Diversity of strengths and challenges is essential in a group OT model. The OT plans the groups’ activities specifically to address the needs of the children in that group.
What types of diagnoses do kids have who receive OT in ConTiGO Kids groups?
Our OT kids may have diagnoses of ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, motor skill challenges, or have no diagnosis at all but just need work on developmental skills. We do require that children are able to function with a 1:2 adult:child ratio to be in the group. They must be able to stay with the group in the woods and maintain personal safety with an adult nearby but NOT always within arm’s reach. Children receiving OT are also expected to maintain appropriate behavior that does not endanger the safety or compromise the therapy of other children in the group.
How do you balance attending to all the kids' OT goals and making sure a child does not feel left out?
Group therapy IS different than individual services since it is not 1:1 with the OT. One of the reasons we staff our groups with an OT and an assistant (or 2) is so that the OT can get focused time with each child as needed to work on their goals during the group. The longer meeting time also helps with this. We make sure kids don't feel left out by keeping kids engaged throughout the session- so for example, if the OT is working with one child during an activity, the assistant may be helping other kids or leading/supervising some exploration or group game. Also, we tend to do focused work on 1-2 main goals per child at a time, focusing on the family's main concerns. In group therapy if each child has 4-5 goals and there are 4 children it becomes unreasonable to truly address all of the goals sufficiently.
I’m not sure my kid needs OT. What if I register them and then the assessment results indicate OT is not needed?
We only provide OT services for children who need OT, as it would be unethical to charge families for a service they don’t need. In the case where it is uncertain if there are true therapeutic goals that need to be addressed in the group, we enroll the child as an OT kid and do the OT assessment. If the assessment results indicate the level of need is not significant enough to warrant therapy, we change the child to a peer playmate role in the group. The non-refundable $200 registration fee for the OT service covers the cost of assessment, and the account is then switched to the peer playmate rate.
Could you explain a bit more about the Peer Playmates? What role they play and how do they benefit from your program?
The peer playmate role came about as parents had kids who were "graduating" from our OT services, but their parents wanted them to continue in the group for the benefits of green time in nature and for continued practice of self-regulation and play skills in a small group setting. We also had other parents who value nature play asking about having their kids participate even if they didn't need OT services.
Peer playmates do not have goals, nor are they receiving OT services; but they are in the group as willing participants and really help the play along during group games and other interactive activities. The OT spends time during the group addressing goals of the OT kids and plans the group's activities to meet the OT kids' goals. The peer playmates benefit from the activities by participating but are not receiving OT. Peer playmates are expected to follow directions fairly consistently and model appropriate social skills and play skills for other kids. The kids all participate in the group together though- it's not like they know who is getting OT and who isn't. That's the beauty of our group model- therapy feels like PLAY outdoors with other kids.
What happens after I register my child for OT services in the group?
You’ll be sent 2 OT assessment checklists to complete online. Your OT will contact you via email one week prior to the group’s start date to send you our Welcome Packet with all the information you’ll need. Your child’s goals will be established after the 1st or 2nd group. Group activities will address goals and you’ll receive a written progress report on goals in December and June.
(As explained above, peer playmates are not receiving OT services and do not receive assessments, goals, or progress reports.)
Do you cancel groups in rainy weather?
Nope! We play in the rain. In the case of rain, we would only cancel if the weather conditions posed a hazard to the children (for example, strong winds, or hail). We’ve never had to cancel a group for inclement weather. The only time we’ve cancelled groups was for very poor air quality when there were nearby forest fires.
Do you reimburse for missed visits?
No, but we know kids sometimes get sick (boo!) or families sometimes travel (yay!). For these reasons, we do not meet on holidays or holiday weekends, and we build 2 free absences into the pricing structure of each group. So if you end up attending every scheduled session in the year, you got 2 free visits.
If we try the program and for some reason we feel it is not working out, would there be a prorated refund?
Since our services depend on the small group size to give each child a therapeutic play experience, mid-year cancellations and withdrawals impact group dynamics. The majority of our clients in the past have chosen to stay in our groups for the duration of the school year (Sept-June). However, we understand family's needs may change during the school year.
Our cancellation policy is as follows:
-Registrations for ConTiGO Kids Groups (for both OT kids and for Peer Playmates) are for a full school year- September through June, and days missed due to illness or family travel will not be refunded. (In fairness to families, we have factored 2 free absences per year into our current pricing structure and do not run groups on holidays or holiday weekends.)
-To provide group cohesion and stability, we allow families to withdraw from services only in December or March. Deadlines for withdrawal requests are December 15 and March 15. All requests must be made in writing via email to your therapist. We kindly request you notify your therapist at least 2-weeks prior to your child’s last visit so we can provide closure and a smooth transition for your child and other children in the group.
-For all withdrawals, a $100 withdrawal fee will apply. After the withdrawal fee has been subtracted, we will refund any funds received for remaining visits in the school year.
Could you prepare invoices that I could forward to our insurance for partial reimbursement?
Yes- absolutely. We do this for lots of families and process them in December and June at parent request. (Please note that this is only applicable to OT kids and not to peer playmates, as peer playmates are not receiving OT services during the group.)