Nobody knows a child better than their parent. Since we share each moment of their growth and developmental we become acutely aware of their individual characteristics, attributes and idiosyncrasies.

All children advance at their own pace. It is, however, our role as parents to become familiar with, and knowledgeable about, the various developmental milestones, when they should reach them, what is considered normal and what is not. 

It may be difficult for parents of children who have not met their milestones to concede their child may need to seek professional support to help progress them along. Others may not understand how to recognize the signs. Either way, when faced with the prospect of consulting a therapist it’s important that both parent and child have the appropriate support.

Part of Kiddipedia’s mission statement is to ‘assist parents by giving them the tools to nurture their children to the best of their abilities’. In doing so we are staying committed to our mission and are thrilled to announce a partnership with You Thrive, a unique service that provides three types of therapy- psychology, speech pathology and occupational therapy for children and young people and will offer us specialised information and support.  

 

Do you have any tips for parents who are hesitant to take their child to see a therapist?

Sometimes families may be unsure whether their concerns are typical for child development or if there is, in fact, a delay or difficulty. Most allied health practitioners would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about typical child development and give advice on when to access support or to make an appointment. They will also talk through with you what to expect in the initial appointment. Picking up the phone and making a call to a health professional could be the first step in accessing support. Alternatively, you could seek advice from your child’s General Practitioner (GP), child health nurse or educator about your concerns. 

 

What is occupational therapy and why would a child need to see one?

Occupational therapists help children achieve independence in their daily life activities or ‘occupations’. They assist children with their gross motor movements, fine motor skills, handwriting, visual perception, self-care skills, social skills and sensory processing. A child who has difficulty in any of these areas may benefit from seeing an occupational therapist. 

 

For each of the following age groups, what are the key triggers parents should be aware of their children having that would indicate they should see an occupational therapist?

It’s important to remember that every child will develop at different rates. The following indicators are given only as a guide. If you do notice differences between right and left sides of the body (in strength, movement or muscle tone) at any age, consult with a healthcare professional. 

 

3 months

– Difficulty holding head and shoulders up when lying on tummy

– Head falls back when pulled to sitting position

– Hands frequently clenched

 

6 months

– Not reaching for and holding toys

– Not bringing hands together 

– Not exploring toys with hands, mouth and eyes

 

9 months

– Not rolling 

– Not sitting independently

– Not taking weight on legs when held to stand

– Not making attempts to crawl

– Not holding objects

– Not ‘giving’ objects on request

– Cannot move the toy from one hand to the other

 

 

12 months

– Not independently mobile (e.g. crawling or walking)

– Not pulling to stand up

– Not feeding themselves finger foods or independently holding bottle/cup

– Not picking up smaller objects with thumb and pointer finger

 

18 months

– Not scribbling on paper

– No imitation of stacking blocks 

– Not standing or walking independently

 

24 months 

– Not able to walk up or down stairs holding on

– Not feeding themselves using a spoon

– Not helping with getting dressed

 

3 years 

– Difficulty walking up or down stairs independently

– Not running or jumping

– Difficulty threading

 

4 years

– Unable to catch, throw and kick a ball

– Not toilet trained during the day

– Not drawing lines and circles

 

5 years 

– Not able to stand on one leg or hop on one leg

– Teacher noting concerns about school readiness

– Difficulty independently completing daily routines (e.g. feeding and dressing)

– Not drawing simple pictures 

 

When is the best time to start speech therapy for children?

Speech pathologists can work with children from birth, so the best time to get started is as soon as you identify a concern. Early intervention will ensure the best outcome for your child. 

 

What does a children’s speech pathologist do?

Speech pathologists assess, diagnose, treat and help prevent disorders related to speech, language, cognitive communication, voice, swallowing and fluency. 

A speech pathologist can help your child if they:

– have difficulty saying speech sounds

– use few words

– have difficulty following directions

– stutter

– have difficulty eating or drinking

– have difficulty with reading or spelling

– have difficulty with social communication skills

– have a rough, breathy or nasally voice

 

When should parents consider taking their child to a see a psychologist?

A child may benefit from the support of a psychologist if they are:

– experiencing low self-esteem, anxiety or depression

– dealing with grief, trauma or loss

– having difficulty concentrating

– dealing with a challenging situation

– having difficulty developing friendships

– feeling different

 

 What is the difference between a child therapist, psychologist and psychiatrist? 

 A psychologist is a university trained health professional that can positively impact behaviour, mental well-being and development. A psychiatrist is a medically trained doctor who has completed training to identify complex mental health issues and is able to prescribe medication for treatment. 

The term ‘child therapist’ could refer to any clinician that is providing therapy to a child. It is best to ensure the clinician is a registered health professional. Psychologists and psychiatrists are registered with and regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA). 

 

 

Youthrive is a unique service offering psychology, speech therapy and occupational therapy all in one place. We work with kids and young people who need some extra help to catch up with their peers – they might need one specialist or an integrated plan for all three. Our team do a thorough assessment and develop an individual plan to equip kids with the skills they need to thrive.

 

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