Physical Therapists evaluate the movement abilities of the infant or child and identifies the issues interfering with an infant’s developmental abilities or a child’s motor or orthopedic status.
Developmental Pediatrics specializes in infant neuromotor development and is able to analyze the issues that are preventing an infant from progressing along the typical developmental sequence.
Most healthcare professionals look solely at developmental milestones to determine if a child is adequately developing. At Developmental Pediatrics, we look at the detailed neurodevelopmental status of the infant and determine and address any and all issues that are limiting an infant’s abilities in any way.
It is common for us to begin working with a baby shortly after arriving home after birth. We work closely with the parents, thoroughly explaining how development occurs and what we all need to be addressing in order for that baby to continue to achieve all the foundational skills necessary to achieve the best outcome possible.
Infants and children with developmental challenges often have difficulty with eating and growing. The act of eating is perhaps the most difficult and complex motor skill we must attain.
Eating requires a sensory system that accurately tells us where food or drink is located in our mouth, where our tongue is positioned as well as how to use our tongue and all other oral muscles to perform a safe and effective swallow. We also must have sufficient strength and coordination of our oral musculature in order to sufficiently chew and break down the food in preparation for a swallow.One of the most difficult stages of eating is the coordination of breathing and swallowing. If any of the above mentioned conditions exists, it makes the process of swallowing much more difficult creating mismanagement of the food or drink leading to choking, coughing or aspiration.
Breathing is the number one priority. The need to eat will never override the need to breathe. Children who have decreases in their sensory ability and/ or with muscle strength and coordination will not feel comfortable with the process of eating.
The child’s overall motor function can also significantly interfere with the swallowing process. A child who has difficulty with maintaining a steady and consistent midline head position will also not be able to then coordinate most of the feeding process. Give this a try: look up at the ceiling and try to swallow. It is impossible! Many children with feeding difficulties also have difficulty with head control. All of this needs to be evaluated in order to help the child to be able to eat successfully.
Feeding therapy can either be individual or in a group. Both Speech Therapists and Occupational Therapists will work on feeding. Because feeding is such a complex issue, a team approach is the best approach.
Developmental Pediatrics is the only pediatric facility with an actual warm water pool and full aquatic program. Our pool is designed to accomodate the therapy needs of our little ones.
The pool is kept at 97 degrees and is sanitized with a salt water system which prevents the water from becoming highly ionized and acidic which is typically seen with standard chlorine or bromine pools. Chlorine is part of the salt molecule. The generator splits the chlorine from the salt molecule which then sanitizes the water. It recombines into the salt after it circulates in the water, passes through the generator and the molecule is once again split apart. There is no smell of chlorine, it is gentle on the eyes and skin and will not destroy your suit!
Water has long been used for it’s restorative properties. The therapy pool is highly useful for children with all types of developmental challenges. The warm water allows children with high muscle tone or spasticity to move more freely. Water also eliminates gravity through bouyancy making movement easier for children but water can also be used to strengthen muscles with it’s resistance.
The aquatic environment is also beneficial for children with sensory challenges such as tactile defensiveness, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and sensory processing disorders (SPD).
One of the biggest benefits of aquatic therapy is helping children with breath control and the awareness of the need to coordinate breathing with the face in close proximity to the water. Infants and children with feeding difficulties tend to have significant difficulty and fear involving breath control and swallowing. Working on breath control in the pool helps children to become more aware and in control of their breathing and eventually reduces the fear of choking and aspirating while eating.
A side benefit of aquatic therapy is learning how to swim and be safe around bodies of water! We do provide swim lessons on a small scale for children birth to 6 years of age without developmental challenges as well.
Occupational Therapy in pediatrics involves evaluating and addressing the child’s ability to process information, access and interact with their environment as well people. Our body is wired with a complex sensory system which not only allows us to see, hear, touch and taste but also tells us where we are in space, how heavy something is, and how to respond appropriately to the environment such as responses to pain and fear for example. Without an organized sensory system that is able to manage all of the pieces of information that we must process and act on everyday, the ability to learn, move, cope and function can be significantly limited.
For this reason, we look very closely at every child’s sensory system to see where breakdowns in this highly complex system may be interfering with you child’s development so that we may address them and assist your child in being able to move, learn and play to their best of their ability.
Pediatric Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) work with children on all areas of communication including receptive language, expressive language, articulation, fluency, voice, augmentative and alternative communication, and social skill development. Additionally SLPs work with oral motor skills, feeding, and swallowing.
At Developmental Pediatrics, the SLPs recognize that a child’s sensory system must be regulated in order for a child to learn new skills. They also recognize that a child’s positioning impacts his ability to communicate and swallow. For these reasons they work closely with OTs and PTs.