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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

Developmental Planning: An Introduction for Parents

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Emotional Minefield continued...

As they move and experience the world from different positions, their body develops a broader repertoire of movement experiences and problem solving skills by being positioned on their tummies, sitting, and standing. Experiencing gravity in those positions forces them to learn new skills and relate to their environment in an entirely different manner. Those are thinking or cognitive activities as well as opportunities to strengthen and learn about managing their bodies.

If their primary experience has been from lying on their back because of medical complications, they will have learned that this position is the only way to experience the world and when they communicate, generally people come into their visual spatial field above them. Compare that to the child, as he or she is medically able, who experiences interaction with people and things from a stable and supported sitting or standing position while positioned in a stander or supportive seating. They learn and experience the world and communicate to the best of their ability with those around them much differently.

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.

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