What Parents Can Do for a Child's Development
Family Involvement for Child Development
Reyansh was born with a disorder called Polymicrogyria that impacts the brain and disrupts all areas of child development, including motor and cognitive function. His mom Saisree had been taking him to clinic-based occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy his entire life. Usually, mom sat in the waiting room or observed sessions while the therapists worked directly with Reyansh, whose progress was slow. But when the pandemic hit and those offices closed, she found Any Baby Can’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program and began attending virtual sessions.
When his ECI physical therapist met Reyansh, he was two-and-a-half years old, but he had very limited mobility. He couldn’t sit unassisted. The only way he could play with toys was to put them in his mouth. In fact, his developmental level was that of a five-month-old. He would cry a lot and was often frustrated. What became clear is that while Reyansh had been in therapy for years, his parents were often left out of the treatment plan. Saisree didn’t know what activities to work on between therapy visits and wasn’t sure of the best ways to move Reyansh or encourage his play.
“The world stopped but we didn’t stop and the children didn’t stop. Physical therapy is like that— the earlier the better, and the parents are the best teachers to help their children learn. Our role is to teach the parents, and this is where we can have the greatest impact in these children’s lives.,” says Lauretta Jackson, ECI physical therapist.
When our therapists enter a home, in person or through a screen, the whole family becomes a part of the process. Dad would take a small break from his work to help mom with more challenging activities such as standing and walking. Reyansh’s older brother also helped with his therapies. He wanted to be a part of the visit, help his brother stand up, get him to walk and play with his cars. One of the biggest motivator’s for Reyansh is to play with his older brother and follow him around the house. This type of family involvement is not often available for families engaged with a private clinic.
Progress Through Parent Coaching
Strong, confident parents raise strong, confident kids. Consequently, parent education is a crucial part of the Any Baby Can model. We regularly ask: what does the family need help with to support their child?
ECI is a family-focused intervention program specializing in children’s developmental needs between zero and three years old. ECI uses parent coaching to help families support their child’s learning and development, during and between sessions.
With time and effort, Reyansh’s parents learned to communicate more effectively, and they learned better ways to manipulate his body and to encourage different kinds of play.
“I wish we had done this earlier. I wish I had known about ECI. Reyansh has made so much more progress when Lauretta teaches me what to do!,” says Saisree.
Parent coaching, which is inherent in Any Baby Can’s programs, was a perfect fit. It was a challenge initially, trying to model the activities and talk Reyansh’s parents through the therapy activities on Zoom, but they were motivated, supportive and caring, doing everything they could for their sweet son. After a few visits, Reyansh really started to take off with his development, thanks to the support of his family and therapists.
Ready for School and Beyond
The transformation in Reyansh has been extraordinary. In the short six to eight months during which they worked together (never even having met in person!), he is now able to play with toys using his hands, and no longer just puts them in his mouth. He can sit and play for longer stretches of time. He can stand with supervision thanks to braces and his mom’s hard work, and Reyansh is learning to walk with a walker. He is much happier and not as frustrated because he is able to move and play without help.
Lauretta even worked to get the family the assistive supplies he needed, including a gait trainer, walker and a wheelchair, which will enable him to start school in August as he has just turned three.
“We taught the parents and the child thrived. It’s that simple,” adds Lauretta.
At Any Baby Can, parent coaching is about empowering parents to gain confidence in their parenting, their child’s growth and development, and their family’s future.
Help children with developmental or physical challenges reach their full potential.
We encourage the parent to reflect on progress and on their own ability to support the child.
Relationships and experiences early on in life can have a big impact on a person’s future.