Because your child’s developmental difficulties may have multiple components, a comprehensive intervention strategy will probably be a multi-disciplinary one. This may include clinical consultations geared towards developmentally appropriate caregiver-child interaction, speech therapy, occupational therapy, mediated play with peers, home-based and educational programs, bio-medical approaches and possibly other techniques. Getting started as early as possible and pursuing an intensive program of intervention will increase the likelihood of success for your child.
Your Role in Your Child’s Intervention
Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based (DIR/Floortime)
An important part of this program is
engaging in developmentally appropriate interactions at every
opportunity. This is often referred to as “floor time,” which literally
involves getting down on the floor to play with your child. By following
your child’s interests, joining what he is doing and wooing him with
warm but persistent attempts to engage his attention, you can lead him
to climb the developmental ladder. Through playful, engaging
interactions, you can help him want to learn to pay attention, want to
engage in some sort of dialogue and want to take initiative, even before
he speaks in any meaningful conversation. By entering into your child’s
world, you can help your child learn to relate in a meaningful,
spontaneous, flexible and warm way. This does not happen overnight;
adopting this approach involves making a commitment to spending a
considerable period of time on the floor, playing with your child and
becoming a part of his world, even if his activities are limited. It
involves responding to his every utterance or gesture, in an effort to
spark a response - the beginning of two-way communication with your
A Word About Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
Many professionals and public institutions recommend this approach, in part because changes, defined by a child’s mastery of tasks, are easily measured. For some children, especially those who have great difficulty learning how to imitate, behavioral techniques can be useful at an early stage in an intervention to help jump start the child’s ability to pay attention and imitate, and may be one component of the child’s broader intervention program. But parents should be cautious about using a behavioral approach exclusively to drive their child’s intervention. Such an approach does not deal sufficiently with the child’s underlying processing capacities and important aspects of relating and thinking.
As you plan and, over time, refine, the intervention program for your child, remember that success should be measured by the growth of your child’s ability to be related, spontaneous and, ultimately, to think for himself.
Traditional Therapeutic Services
There are many ways for your child to receive professional services. He may receive services at home, attend a typical school with the support of an aide and/or other therapists, or attend a special education school where services are integrated into the program and a continuum of inclusion services may be offered.
When choosing professionals
to work with your child, seek out those who respect your opinion and
who see your child’s possibilities as well as his difficulties.
Because of the lack of definitive studies on alternative therapies, parents need to review their options with their primary physician and therapeutic team, and most importantly, observe carefully to see how a particular treatment affects all aspects of their child.
Some general categories include:
It is important to note that many prescription medications for child mood and behavior have not been sufficiently studied in young children and therefore their effects must be very closely monitored. These include both positive signs, such as improved self-regulation, relating, communicating and thinking, as well as signs of irritability, increased self-absorption, repetitive behavior, and sleeping, eating or other health problems.