Physical Therapists work with children and their families in treating a variety of developmental, neuromuscular, congenital, skeletal, and acquired diseases such as with down syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, developmental delays, traumatic brain injury, and torticollis. Physical therapy focuses on improving the child’s balance and coordination, gross and fine motor skills, strength, endurance, walking/gait, and functional mobility including assessing for and requesting appropriate walking aids and wheelchairs. Physical therapists facilitate a child’s independence, participation, motor development and function, improve global strength, and enhances motor learning opportunities to allow for a child's optimal performance at home, school, and community environments.
Feeding Difficulties may be addressed by trained Occupational or Speech Therapists in collaboration with parents and other medical professionals. Therapists help infants and children with a wide array of feeding difficulties including: reduced or limited intake, food refusal, food selectivity, dysphagia, oral motor deficits, or delays in feeding development. Feeding therapy is important to evaluate and address growth and nutritional concerns, risk for aspiration to prevent respiratory illness, and facilitate age appropriate feeding skills and behaviors. Feeding evaluations include oral motor, sensory, behavioral, and physical assessments to determine if the problem is structural or caused by aversions or learned behaviors. A therapist will determine if a formal swallow study (OPMS- Oral Pharyngeal Motility Study) is required prior to initiating feeding therapy if there are concerns for risk of aspiration.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientific based learning program, which teaches children with Autism to learn through repetition and reward. When a behavior is rewarded through praise, added attention or something tangible, the child associates that behavior with something good, causing him or her to want to repeat that learned behavior more frequently. ABA focuses on improving positive behaviors and eliminating negative behaviors in order to teach a variety of skills (e.g., communication, functional/adaptive skills, social skills). Interventions using applied behavior analytic principles have long been established as effective approaches to increase appropriate behaviors and decrease problem behaviors for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; National Autism Center, 2009; Wong et al., 2014).
Occupational therapists work with parents, caregivers and other professionals to evaluate the needs of children with development delays, permanent or temporary physical, sensory processing, and/or mental impairments and provide a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan to maximize their performance in their natural environments including home, school, and community settings. Intervention for infants, toddlers, and young children is geared towards assisting with achieving developmental milestones, learning to pay attention and follow simple instructions; developing the ability to eat, drink, and dress independently; facilitating awareness and regulation of sensory world around them; and acilitating social skills to allow children to participate in age appropriate daily routines. Occupational therapist utilize purposeful play and activities to attain functional child and family centered goals.
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) work with families and clients to evaluate and address communication delays or disorders. Speech Therapy will identify areas of difficulty with receptive language, understanding what others say; expressive language, communicating wants, needs, feelings, and thoughts; and/or pragmatic language, verbal and non-verbal rules of social communication. Interventions will involve the mechanics of producing words, such as articulation, phonology, motor planning (apraxia), pitch, fluency, and volume. SLPs may also use alternative means of communication to assist children in expressing themselves such as using sign language, pictures, or augmentative communication devices. Speech Therapy may also address higher level activities such as written expression, executive functioning, auditory processing, and social skills.