Early Intervention…Maximizing Your Child’s Abilities

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Mary Welage, Pediatric Physical TherapyAs a Pediatric Physical therapist within teli’s Early Intervention program, Mary Welage has helped children with a wide range of challenges over her 20 years. “No matter the level of limitations, from severe disability to slight developmental delays, my goal is to maximize a child’s abilities.  We provide therapy but we also provide parents with hope.”

When a parent is faced with an infant or toddler with developmental delays that might be complicated by other diagnoses, it can be overwhelming to say the least. Early Intervention support can provide the needed direction along with perspective that can make the difference for the parent and the child.

The beginning…  understanding where a child is

“We may begin to see a child with a diagnosis as specific as torticollis, where a child cannot turn their head or perhaps low muscle tone such that the child may not be able to lift their head.”  notes Mary. “In each case, identifying where they are and what is missing is the first step.  From there we explain what we see to the parent… both the good and the areas that require improvement and most importantly share our plan to address and the “WHY” associated with our plan.”

Understanding the WHY

Dependent on the nature of the need, teli ‘s physical therapists will engage the parent as a vital partner in the child’s therapy as part of teli’s philosophy of Home Based Coaching.  “We work with children and parents in their home situation and use family routines to address challenges.  For example for a child with low muscle tone may not be moving or reaching, we might observe parent picking up toys or cleaning up and engage the child in that activity to encourage movement. We will challenge the child in areas they have not explored.  It is important to explain the reasoning and the end goal to parents. “

“Once most parents understand and become part of the process, they are grateful when their ongoing practice with their child produces some exciting benefits.” says Mary. “I always reinforce with parents that practice is essential for their child’s improvement.”

Building new brain pathways through Early Intervention

The repetition of specific physical therapy techniques helps to create new brain pathways that essentially govern the body’s movement.  In normal development, those pathways are created easily, for example a baby’s rocking motion back and forth creates the skill of shifting their weight as they move toward learning to crawl.

A premature infant who was born 2 months connected to life saving machinery and tubes in the NICU early don’t have the opportunity to explore and grow.  Medical needs take precedence over developmental needs at that time.” With premature infants, gently moving bodies helps to “train” their brain. Initially, the child may cry or be uncomfortable, but we assure parents that in fact this small amount of discomfort will in fact help them to progress toward a larger goal as they grow.”  remarks Mary.

Improved outcome… the ultimate goal

The ultimate goal of improving the life of the child is at the core of teli’s Early Intervention services.   “Our therapy is designed to meet the child where they are and to help their parents and caregivers learn activities to promote the child’s development, master new movement and skills that were missing. My greatest joy is watching as a parent sees their child accomplishing skills they never thought possible.”  says Mary.

Learn more about teli’s Early Intervention Services.

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