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There are a variety of therapies that are important components in managing certain developmental disabilities. Children may benefit from a combination of several types of therapies to address specific needs. The descriptions below will help you understand the goals of each therapy.

  1. Physical Therapy – A health profession devoted to improving an individual’s physical abilities. It involves activities that strengthen the child’s muscular control and motor coordination, especially of the large muscles. Some physical therapists receive additional training in sensory integration theory and treatment. 2
  2. Speech/Language Therapy – improve language to help children communicate more effectively, speech skills, pitch of the voice, strengthening oral-motor control in the muscles of the mouth, expand language skills, vocabulary and actual language ability.
  3. Occupational Therapy – A health profession devoted to helping people with motor and behavior problems learn how to perform purposeful activities. For a child, purposeful activities include making mud pies, climbing, jumping, buttoning, drawing and writing. Such activities are the child’s occupation. In general O.T. improves the functioning of a person’s nervous system. Also guiding the child through activities that challenge his ability to respond successfully to sensory stimuli in an organized way. 2 Occupational therapy may also help children learn to process information from the five senses (sight, sound, hearing, touch and smell) in more manageable ways.
  4. Psychotherapy – This can include development and intelligence, it can also look at adaptive functioning (the child’s ability to look at real world situations and take care of basic needs). Poor self image, problematic symptoms and behaviors, family therapy and the promoting of a strong social-emotional development.
  5. Vision Therapy – Strengthen eye motor control, depth perception, develop visual perception and develop eye hand coordination as well as improve visual skills. This often involves using methods that incorporate the other senses as well.
  6. Behavior Therapy – Behavior training and behavior management uses positive reinforcement to reduce behavior problems and promote adaptation skills. The child’s abilities, behavior and environment need to be taken into account when planning behavior management and all adults/caregivers need to be trained in the same behavior management techniques. Consistent use of behavioral interventions across all social contexts is most effective when working with children who have behavior problems due to development disabilities. A Functional Behavior Assessment is often helpful in developing and managing a behavior plan.

1 Autism Spectrum Disorders – Interventions and Treatments for Children and Youth by Richard L. Simpson
2 “The Out of Sync Child” by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.

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