Devoted mother exercising her laughing baby who has late development of motor activity using a yellow pilates ball
We always hear that early intervention in the form of specialized therapies is important for children with any kind of congenital or developmental challenge. Whether a young child has a more global challenge, such as autism, or a specific deficit, like an articulation disorder, we are encouraged to seek evaluation and treatment as early as possible in a child’s life.
There is actually good basis for this recommendation, originating in neuroscience. We are always learning more about the brain, but one concept, that of neuroplasticity, is a primary reason to pursue early intervention. Quoting Dr. Eric Chudler, of the University of Washington, “Neuroplasticity describes how experiences reorganize neural pathways in the brain. Long-lasting functional changes in the brain occur when we learn new things or memorize new information. These changes in neural connections are what we call neuroplasticity.” To learn more about neuroplasticity, read Dr. Chudler’s fascinating article at https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/plast.html.
We often hear that an enriched environment leads to better learning. This assumption is also supported by the process of neuroplasticity. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) completed a review of research to establish the impact of sensory integration treatment on learning new skills. AOTA found “This group of studies supports the premise that environmental enrichment alters brain structure and function in positive ways. Changes after exposure to environmental enrichment are reported in brain tissue weight, acetylcholine esterase (AChE) activity,total cholinesterase (ChE) levels, dendritic branching, and number of synapses.” This sounds pretty technical, but it is always good to know there is a basis for what we do. To read this research overview visit AOTA.
Pediatric speech and occupational therapy target specific deficits a child may be experiencing. Therapy is, by definition, enrichment, because a new, focused dimension is being added to a child’s experiences. Treatment incorporates meaningful activities paired with practice which leads to strengthened associations in the brain. Speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists also work closely with families to ensure that home practice takes place. This partnership model strengthens the neural pathways that lead to better skills.
So, if you are concerned about your child’s fine motor or sensory development, or speech and language development, it is very important to talk with your pediatrician. You physician may recommend an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist.
Speech & Occupational Therapy of North Texas has clinic locations in Frisco, McKinney, and Plano. We are happy to answer your questions regarding child development at no charge. Please call us at 972-424-0148 if you would like to speak with a therapist. For families in McKinney, speech therapy and occupational therapy are available at our Stonebridge location. For Murphy, occupational therapy and speech therapy are available at our East Plano location. In Frisco, speech therapy and occupational therapy are available at our clinic near Parkwood and Warren.