Benefits of Early Intervention
Raising a developmentally and emotionally healthy child – one who is destined to become a productive member of their community and who thrives on the playground, in the classroom and in social relationships – is what all parents and teachers desire. When struggles arise on the journey of development and learning, a child’s behavior is often the first sign of stress – one that signals a broader series of factors affecting his or her ability to thrive.
Thriving kids have the opportunity to grow into thriving adults and children who have the ability to experience success and achievement go on to desire more success and achievement. The learning and developmental cycle is self-perpetuating. However, some children who struggle to play, make friends and easily communicate often underachieve and, in turn, come to have low expectations as to what is possible for them. This is a heartbreaking dynamic – one in which a child is not able to reach his or her personal potential due to developmental and learning issues that often can be effectively treated and assisted if the proper intervention is available to them at an early age.
Developmental Delays: The Facts
Learning success is a tree with many branches that has its roots in basic neurological processes – sensory processing being critical. Through sensory processing, our brains take in sensory input and integrate this information for use in multiple areas of cognitive, social and behavioral growth and functioning. Sensory processing enables us to act appropriately within our environment to achieve increasingly complex, goal-directed actions. It controls motor skill development, focus and attention, and social interaction. It’s an essential “hard-wiring” for our brains and neurological make-up that can sometimes need fine-tuning.
If a child has a deficit in one of these processing functions, it can delay development of other social, emotional, physical and cognitive processes and impair the progress of critical social and learning skills. A child with sensory processing issues may need occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, educational therapy, behavioral therapy, play therapy, family therapy – or a combination of all disciplines. And it’s critical to assess a child with these issues early in the process so that they can receive life-changing intervention that can make a world of difference in their developmental, emotional and social progress. If a child is developmentally delayed, he or she often does not have the social skills to develop peer relationships, or may exhibit behaviors that alienate others. When this is the case, the child gets anxious and his or her self-esteem, sadly, can suffer greatly.
Assessment is the framework for determining each child’s specific needs. The assessment process should provide a standardized and functional historical measurement of a child’s strengths and challenges, related to development and learning. Observing a child to understand his or her motivation, cooperation, and behavior during the evaluation is very important. Classroom consultations should be incorporated as needed, coupled with the results of a child’s test scores.
The Whole Brain/Whole Child Approach
Treating the “whole child” – and treating him early – is critical to developmental and learning success. But most kids with developmental delays don’t need one thing – they need several things. And working unilaterally, clinicians don’t have the same success as when they’re working as part of an inter-professional treatment team. But often, therapists don’t have this opportunity. At Child Success Foundation, we make it possible for the child to receive support from an interventional team that subscribes to the “whole child” approach, where each child gets a customized treatment plan based on a comprehensive assessment, and has access to an interdisciplinary team that provides a collaborative, community-based model.
While delayed motor skills are often the first sign of a problem, auditory processing, visual-spatial processing, language processing and executive function are all evaluated. Once a child’s unique developmental profile is established, the right team of clinicians – deploying the right therapies in the right combination – can treat the whole brain to get a child on track. This team can include collaborations with neuropsychologists, developmental pediatricians, clinical psychologists, developmental optometrists, and behavioral specialists. When sensory processing disorders are addressed in this comprehensive way, the child develops the essential qualities for learning success.
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