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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

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Developmental Planning: An Introduction for Parents

Emotional Minefield continued...

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.

Considering the idea of adapted seating, a wheelchair or a stander can often be a major blow emotionally. Do your best to consider how to plan to adapt to your child’s current inability to sit unsupported by positioning him in a high chair with rolled kitchen towels when the therapist is present. Learn how he or she will respond to adapted or supportive seating. This is a hard thing to consider, but looking ahead and trying things will pay off.

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