Occupational Therapy for Toddlers with Developmental Delays
Occupational Therapy for Toddlers with Developmental Delays
Developmental delays refer to the inability of a child to meet certain milestones age appropriately. When a child does not develop according to an average age group, they are said to have developmental delays. To understand how Occupational Therapy helps toddlers with delays, let us first understand milestones.
The milestones are achieved around a certain time span. These milestones may take a little longer to develop in certain children, and that is okay. But if this span is significantly prolonged, it falls under a developmental delay. And Occupational Therapy can help with these delays.
The brain typically develops by growing and learning. This happens when a child begins noticing their environment and makes an attempt to interact with them. But if this timespan is significantly prolonged, it falls under a developmental delay.
Occupational therapy helps toddlers with these developmental delays.
Factors that contribute to developmental delays in toddlers:
There may be different causes. The reasons could be Premature birth, Delayed birth cry, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Meconium aspiration at birth, Fall, or illness in the initial months post-birth.
Non-integrated reflexes: Sometimes non-integrated reflexes affect a child’s development and contribute to developmental delays.
Developmental delays affect a toddler in many ways:
These delays interfere with a child’s functioning in daily life. Not only do they hamper the way a child eats, drinks, runs, and walks, but also the way a child holds a crayon, scribbles, and later learns to write and draw.
Developmental Milestones in 1st year:
By 3 Months
By 3 months, a baby should be starting to develop the following motor skills:
- Reach for objects and,
- Grasp and holding objects
- Support their head on their own and also,
- Bring objects down to their mouth
- Push down with their legs while on a firm surface
By 3 months, a baby should be starting to develop the following personal and social skills:
- Smile at people
- Notice new faces
By 3 months, a baby should be starting to develop the following communication skills:
- Respond to loud noises
- Imitate sounds, if poorly
By 7 Months
- By 7 months, a baby should be starting to develop the following motor skills:
- Reach with one hand
- Take objects to their mouth
- Roll over in both directions
- Sit up without help
- Weight bear through their legs when pulled into a standing position
By 7 months, a baby should be starting to develop the following personal and social skills:
- Enjoy cuddles
- Show affection for parents
- Show enjoyment around people
- Be comforted at night
- Smile without prompting
- Laugh or squeal
- Take an interest in games, such as peek a boo
By 7 months, a baby should be starting to develop the following communication skills:
- Respond to sounds
- Look towards sounds
By 1 Year
By 1 year, a baby should be starting to develop the following motor skills:
- Stand with support
By 1 year, a baby should be starting to develop the following personal and social skills:
- Share back and forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or facial expressions
- Share back-and-forth gestures, such as waving, reaching, or pointing
By 1 year, a baby should be starting to develop the following communication skills:
- Use single words, like “mama”
By 1 year, a baby should be starting to develop the following thinking skills:
- Search for objects that are hidden
- Use gestures, such as waving or pointing
Developmental Milestones by 2nd year:
By 2 years, a toddler should be starting to develop the following motor skills:
- Walk in a heel-to-toe walking pattern
- Ability to push a wheeled toy
By 2 years, a toddler should be starting to develop the following communication skills:
- Speak in at least 15 words
- Use two-word phrases
- Use speech to communicate more than just immediate needs
Before 2 years, a toddler should be starting to develop the following thinking skills:
- Know the function of common objects
- Follow simple instructions
- Imitate actions or words
Types of Developmental Delays in Toddlers:
As an example of developmental delay, by 3 months, a child begins to make cooing sounds, look at their hands with interest, head holding is achieved and the child smiles looking at the caregiver.
- Social behaviors are an aspect where a child behaves comfortably in a social setup.
- Speech and communication: These include the way a child speaks and communicates to express his needs, demands, understanding, and explaining.
- Cognitive/ Thinking Delays: These include the way a child thinks, makes decisions, and accepts changes.
- Self-Help: this includes how a toddler holds a spoon to self-feed or pics small pieces to eat. This explains the grip, grasp, and coordination.
You can understand the role of Occupational Therapy here.
How would you know if your toddler has a developmental delay:
- Is the child smiling, cooing, and babbling age appropriately?
- Does the child take a few steps, walking or running?
- Does the child need assistance in regular tasks?
- Does the child appear clumsy and has a poor posture?
- Is the child good at playing outdoor games?
- How is the child noticing his environment?
- How is the child interacting with you?
- Is the child able to drink from a cup by themself?
Occupational Therapy Intervention for Toddlers with Developmental Delays:
An Occupational Therapist would assess and identify areas of delay.
- They would accordingly work with:
- Muscle Tone, Muscle power, Integrating reflexes.
- Fine and gross motor skills
- Improving play
- Stimulation Planning, ideation, and execution of simple tasks.
- Improving grasp for scribbling.
- Helping a child regulate their arousal level to interact best to their ability.
- Eventually, improving the confidence of the child.
The Occupational Therapist works with parents and sets small goals. Also, these goals are reviewed to check the child’s progress. The exercises and activities are all selected according to the child’s age and baseline abilities.
Occupational Therapists will work to improve a toddler’s skills and performance in different areas. To note, they are playing, eating and feeding, social behavior, fine skills, and gross motor skills. Online Occupational Therapy is newly gaining momentum since the pandemic. For instance, we are navigating different routines as a new normal.
The approach of Occupational Therapy Intervention for Toddlers with Delay:
The Occupational Therapist engages the child in a fun way to gain maximum involvement. Also, parents are an important facet during these Occupational Therapy sessions for developmental delays. This is because Toddlers are most comfortable with primary caregivers. Consultationswh the OT and following a home program for a certain number of weeks.
Thus, identifying delays and starting intervention as early as possible is most important.
Contact us at www.1specialplace.com in case you have any questions.
We can help you with an assessment and intervention. Being a holistic team, early intervention can help with achieving accelerated improvement.
- Efficacy of Online Occupational Therapy in the management of Autism: A Case Study - July 21, 2023
- Occupational Therapy for Toddlers with Developmental Delays - June 13, 2023
- Is it a Sensory or Behaviour problem? - March 17, 2023