Does Your Child Need Paediatric Therapy?

Children have a marvelous way of learning new things day after day. They pick things up exceptionally fast, and every new action or trait they learn and exhibit always fascinates us and makes us anticipate what we know will come next. But sometimes, these developments come later than we expect.

It’s a fact that not all children learn and develop in the same way or in the same pace. Some race ahead while others take their time, moving through development milestones one at a time. This is what often keeps parents from seeking their doctor’s advice right away when their child exhibits some delay. But this “wait and see” attitude can be dangerous, as these delays could be signs of a serious condition that may need immediate attention.

Serious Possibilities
Delays are one of the most common signs of several types of disorders that appear early on in a child’s life. These include Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Muscular Dystrophy, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and learning disorders. Speech delays in particular can be caused by ear infections, hearing problems, or oral impairments, where children have difficulty speaking because of some problems with their tongue or palate. Thankfully, some conditions can be treated and delays amended through occupational therapy and speech pathology, as long as they are caught early on.

Early Warning Signs
Early detection of disorders requires a significant amount of observation of your child’s behaviour, and keen attention to early warning signs. Some of these indications are:

  • Poor gross motor skills – the child falls frequently, moves clumsily and has difficulty running jumping or skipping
  • Poor fine motor skills – the child has difficulty grasping and controlling things with his hands and is unable to write properly; the child may also have difficulty doing common tasks such as tying shoelaces, buttoning or putting on a coat
  • Weak or poor muscle tone
  • Sensitivity to smells, sounds, touch or tastes
  • Aversion to playground activities
  • Poor posture
  • Lack of focus or easily distracted
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Child constantly chooses to do the same activity, and avoids learning new motor activities
  • Child often crashes into things and people, sometimes deliberately
  • Decreased awareness of safety for self
  • Strong desire for movement

For these telling signs, occupational therapy or physiotherapy would be best. Other signs could indicate the need for speech therapy. These include:

  • Not using gestures by 12 months
  • Preference of gestures over words or vocalisation by 18 months
  • Difficulty in imitating sounds or understanding simple verbal requests by 18 months
  • Using only certain sounds or words repeatedly, or using words only once and never again
  • Inability to express oneself verbally or produce words or phrases spontaneously
  • Possesses an unusual tone of voice, somewhat raspy or nasal-sounding
  • Cannot be understood easily by around 2 to 4 years old
  • Inconsistent reaction to different sounds (other sounds may irritate him, but calling his name may garner no reaction at all)
  • Mispronouncing vowels or omitting whole consonants in words
  • Using one sound or syllable to name most things (“duh” or “duh-duh” is most common)
  • Unresponsive to simple commands, like pointing to things in books, or seems indifferent when you don’t understand what he wants
  • Answering questions by repeating part of the question

If your child exhibits one or a couple of these signs, this may not warrant paediatric therapy. But if your child exhibits a combination of several of these, then he must be checked by a development paediatrician as soon as possible.

It can be heartbreaking for parents to accept their child’s conditions or incapacities, but there’s always hope and a great chance for children to live normal lives when they’re given the right paediatric therapy at an early age. There are plenty of facilities that offer occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy in Sydney, which are hopefully covered by your health insurance provider, so parents in Australia need not worry when it comes to getting the best paediatric therapy for their children.

Debra Wright blogs is about a plethora of topics, including medical therapy in health and other fields. She considers Child First Paediatric Therapy as one of the leaders in paediatric therapy.