A fresh look at paediatric therapy. Is there a better way?

helping attachment and inclusion

For the sake of this article, paediatric therapy is offered by physiotherapists, speech & language therapists and occupational therapists and is in support of babies and pre-school children who have significant challenges to their development and learning. When this support is offered in hospitals, there are both benefits and disadvantages to children and families. There are two options; the child goes to the therapist or the therapist goes to the child. In this article I shall argue for the latter.

Paediatric therapists spend some of their time helping children with fine motor skills, movement, posture, understanding language, communication, cognition, and making the best use of the senses of hearing, seeing and touch. Underlying these areas of child development are such factors as emotions, attention, concentration, motivation and a sense of achievement.

It is significant for my argument that parents, nursery workers and first teachers are also helping the child with these same areas of child development. So, following Team Around the Child (TAC) principles and practice, there should be close collaboration between all the people involved. It is also significant for my argument, that, in part, babies and infants develop these skills in the course of normal activity in the home, nursery or first school.

So, a logical approach would be for paediatric therapists to go to where the child is and to integrate their work into the natural activities of home, nursery or school. Instead of working separately, there would be close teamwork between the people involved in which they can all learn from each other and contribute to a whole-child approach. Paediatric therapists have specialist knowledge to bring to the discussions, but so do each child’s parents, nursery workers and first teachers. Paediatric therapists could take on an advisory role to support the people who are with the child every day.

A major benefit coming from this fresh look would be to reduce children’s regular visits to hospital therapy departments and clinics and help remove the negative mind-sets of illness, of being a patient, of needing medical treatment. Also, children would not be taken away on such a regular basis from their home and community settings, thus promoting both bonds of attachment and inclusion. This fresh look would foster naturalness and normality for each child and family.


Theses argument are developed in ‘Bringing up babies and young children who have very special needs’ - https://www.tacinterconnections.com/index.php/bookshop/bringing-up-babies

Your comments are very welcome.

Peter Limbrick

June 2023

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