The greatest gift that nature gives is that of a child. The precious miracle of new life is the start of a journey which is partly one of love and pride in an offspring. It is also a journey of physical and mental learning and development.
Physically and mentally, no two children are the same. As such, they are individuals and should be treated as such, this includes the evaluation of their personal evolution from birth to adulthood. Throughout these formative years of development parents eagerly await the reaching of milestones.
A baby’s first tooth, their first words, crawling and walking are proclaimed and celebrated by parents. These are just a few of the physical manifestations of growth and development in a child. However, there is much more to a child’s development. Internally, and mostly unseen, a child’s body is undergoing constant change. Also, and very importantly, a child’s cognitive development is also developing at an amazing rate.
In the mid-18th century Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Genevan writer and philosopher, stated that a child’s development can be viewed in three stages. They being, from birth to age 12, from 12 to 16 and from 16 to full adulthood. However, it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th century that the term ‘Cognitive Development’ was first coined.
It was Jean William Fritz Piaget, a Swiss psychologist famed for his work in the area of child development, who first coined the phrase and created the International Center for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva in 1955. Jean William Fritz Piaget is now viewed as being the father of juvenile cognitive development.
It is now accepted that a child’s development is governed and directed by genetics, biology and social influences. This interactive meld of complicated factors requires very deep and specialized understanding and to be fully understood and explained it requires professionals with very unique skills. It is also understood that up to 14% of children are subject to developmental delay and require developmental assistance.
Parents Know Best
No one knows a child better than its parents. Children don’t develop in the same way or at the same time. There is a wide scale of timelines into which a child will fall, they may be early or late developers in varying areas of growth. Routine child development assessment is a reassuring tool for parents and, should a parent have any concerns as to the child’s development progress they should seek out a professional assessment.
Recognizing this need for specialist assessment and care Samitivej Hospital has created their Child Development and Learning Center. This modern, ground breaking center is dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of young people’s physical and cognitive development. With state of the art facilities and innovative treatment techniques the Child Development and Learning Center assesses, evaluates, explains and, where necessary, treats any deficiencies in a child’s development.
Developmental Monitoring and Screening
Developmental monitoring assesses a child’s physical and cognitive growth against deemed typical time scales. Key milestones, such as speaking, play, learning, physical movement and behavioral attributes are monitored. This is done with the help of other family members, parents and grandparents or any other caregiver in particular, and is aided by using a simple checklist.
Developmental screening is a more detailed look at a child’s development. Typically, a questionnaire may be completed by a parent or caregiver. The child will also undergo brief testing with a child development specialist who will evaluate the child in numerous areas, including physical movement, language, thought processing and behavioral and emotional responses.
Should screening identify an area of concern then a more formal, in-depth evaluation of the child’s development will be undertaken. The Child Development and Learning Center can call upon its specialist team of highly trained specialists, which includes occupational therapists, developmental pediatricians, speech-language pathologists and child psychologists, all of which are supported by a team of fully trained support staff.
Following this more detailed evaluation it can be determined whether or not a child requires early developmental intervention or specialist therapy and treatment. It may be that a child requires a hybrid plan that integrates early developmental intervention, therapy and treatment. It is to this end that the Child Development and Learning Center insists upon individualized assessment and personalized treatment plans.
Developmental Therapy and Treatment
Following assessment and evaluation, physical therapy may be required for a late developer of physical movement. A physical therapist is trained to give guidance on building a child’s motor skills. This is done by establishing goals, training to and achieving those goals by teaching a child how to move in a way that uses the required muscles effectively.
For example, a child may be having problems in learning how to pull themselves up to a perpendicular stance. The therapist will show the child the correct way to do this and encourage the child to copy their actions. They may also encourage the child to utilize objects that can give support and aid balance once they are in the standing position.
Occupational therapy addresses fine and gross motor skills issues. Children with these problems will be guided in all areas of using the muscles through a sequenced movement plan. This may be done by watching, and copying specific tasks, such as picking up small articles from a table to putting clothes on. This teaches the child coordination, balance, and self-regulation skills.
Speech and language therapy is designed to aid a child’s communication skills. Play and talk are key factors in speech and language therapy. Pictures, books and events are used to stimulate the child’s communication skills. Age appropriate, the therapist will stress pronunciation vocabulary and grammar as part of building a child’s language skills. Individual sounds are often difficult for some children, articulation therapy helps the child to learn how to use the jaw muscles and tongue to create the correct sounds.
Many conditions can result in developmental issue in children, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Additionally, other factors such as anxiety or depression can be a cause of development issues. Bipolar children, although rarer, will also show development issues which will benefit from developmental therapy.
With up to 14 % of minors experiencing developmental issues, to some degree, it is vital that parents have their children’s development assessed periodically. Early recognition of a problem will, in all likelihood, lead to successful intervention and bring a child’s development into line with the accepted parameters of physical and cognitive development. Nowhere is this done better than at Samitivej Hospital’s Child Development and Learning Center.