The Benefits of Developmental Therapy


All children learn at a different rate.  Most children learn by exploring their environment and interacting with others.  Some children may have difficulty exploring and interacting with others due to developmental delays, behavior issues, sensory processing issues, etc.  When a child has difficulty learning new skills, developmental specialists are typically the first therapists the child will work with.

Developmental Therapy is a service providing guided “play” for children.  This “play” therapy is beneficial for children because a variety of developmental skills are targeted.  These skills may include communication, cognitive, gross motor, fine motor, self-help, social interactions, behavior, etc.  Each child will have their own individual goals – which are addressed during everyday activities such as playing, bathing, dressing, eating, classroom routines, etc.

Developmental Therapy is beneficial because it:

1). Provides Individual Services:  Each child is different and develops different strengths and needs.  The developmental specialist will evaluate your child through formal observations, standardized assessments and parent and teacher reports.  Following the assessment, they will create goals for your child based on his or her individual needs.

2). Targets Skills In The Most Natural Environment: The most natural environment is a place where the child is comfortable and the most familiar with.  This may include their home, grandma’s house, daycare or preschool setting.

3). Encourages Social Interactions: Social skills are important in order to interact with and learn from others and the environment.  Many children with developmental delays have difficulty with social interactions. This may result in limited eye contact, difficulty maintaining two-way conversations, difficulty playing with others, etc.  Developmental therapy provides opportunities to address social interactions with others – including the child’s parents, siblings, teachers and peers.

4).  Builds A Foundation For Learning: For younger children, developmental therapy focuses on learning cognitive skills such as colors, shapes, numbers, letters, names of objects and people, etc. through play activities.  These skills are foundational skills which will help your child as they transition from early childhood programs to the elementary school setting.

5). Promotes Play Skills: Play is an important part of childhood. As Lawrence Frank once said, “through play, children learn what none can teach.”  While playing, children are able to practice skills and roles needed for survival, learning and development.  These skills include problem solving, sharing, taking turns, pretend play, etc.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is one of the most important experiences of childhood and through it, children can develop physically, emotionally, socially and mentally.  Children with developmental delays may have difficulty playing purposefully with their toys.  During developmental therapy sessions, toys may be adapted to help children play.

Developmental therapy addresses several important skills.  If you feel your child may be having difficulty reaching their developmental milestones or interacting with others, please talk to your child’s pediatrician, teacher or therapist.

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