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Developmental Planning: An Introduction for Parents

Emotional Minefield continued...

The social and emotional components to movement and independent activity are also important to how your child views and experiences the world. Children who have learned about their environment primarily from a single stationary position learn to interact socially and emotionally from that worldview, dependent on calling people to them. This is their daily experience instead of learning about themselves with a broad range of positions and with opportunities to manipulate their bodies and experience the world around them. The child’s mobility skills and ideas may not be effective at first, but the child now has additional avenues to try.

In the early years we work with what our child is able to do today and also look down the road and anticipate future needs. Looking ahead is a daunting task. There are so many factors to consider and different ways to help our child reach their potential.

“Developmental Planning” is the thinking process of using developmental milestones as a general basis for planning and predicting needs for the child within the early years. Developmental planning considers the time frames associated with normal development across all facets of the child’s development. The areas include bone and joint development, movement, sensory integration, encouragement of speech, cognitive, psychological and social development.

Planning ahead this way considers established milestones for typically developing children to predict needs for therapeutic intervention, treatments, and adaptive devices. This helps you and your clinical team adequately prepare for those anticipated needs with consideration given to the time needed for the assessment for, education about, and procurement of those interventions, modalities, and devices.

Using a “planning” mindset helps us to consider alternative methods for accomplishing milestones like sitting or standing with alternative means whenever possible. This approach is better than waiting until your child can accomplish the whole task at a later time because the child is developing in so many areas simultaneously. Looking ahead will help preserve the benefit to the child of achieving the milestone even if it is in a limited or adapted fashion. The child may only be able to mimic the milestone yielding a worthwhile portion of the value found in accomplishing this task, say perhaps only the orthopedic development and visual orientation that would be gained with adapted standing.

If you look at the calendar and determine that your child is now 10 months and is not sitting independently you will inevitably be delayed in accomplishing even a modified version of this goal due to the time it may take to get the needed equipment.

You are not formulating goals or expectations that your child will have the ability to accomplish the entire task within the normal developing timeframe. Rather, your anticipation of a delay prompts you to have an alternative solution at hand when you need your child to start working on that goal.

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