Early development support aims to activate and stimulate the motor, cognitive, emotional and social child development from the moment of disability diagnosis until commencement of school education.
Early development support is an integrated system of prophylactic, diagnostic, treatment-rehabilitation and therapeutic-educational interventions conducted by interdisciplinary team of specialists. The object of early development support is a family with a small child in whom abnormalities in a psycho-motor development are detected, e.g. prematurity, genetic disorders, congenital defects, damage of sensory organs (eyesight, hearing), neurological problems, damage or disorders of the central nervous system, damage or disorders of the motor apparatus.
Early support of child development can concern the motor development, polysensory (multi-sensory) stimulation, development of speech and language, orientation and movement in space, rehabilitation of eyesight, hearing, skills of self-maintenance and functioning in environment. Early support of child development are multi-specialist, comprehensive and intensive actions, aiming to stimulate the functions responsible for psycho-motor development and communication of a disabled small child, from the moment of disability diagnosis to the moment of commencement of school education as well as help and support provided to parents and family in acquiring ability to deal with a child.
The length of early development support is from 4 to 8 hours a month which depends on the child’s psycho-physical skills and developmental needs.
Advantages of early support.
Selected methods of early support of development of vulnerable child. Paul Dennison believes that many problems with intellectual and emotional human functioning arise from incorrect cooperation of both hemispheres and lack of balance between them. The brain is not a symmetrical organ - each hemisphere has slightly different tasks. The left, logical hemisphere is responsible for the analysis of details, concluding and speech. The right one, so-called Gestalt, is responsible for perception of the whole, for emotions, impressions. What is interesting is the fact that the brain has crossed patterns. The right part of our bodies is managed by the left hemisphere and vice versa. The most effective learning process requires the integration of the entire brain, which can be achieved by motor exercise proposed by Dennison, so-called Brain gymnastics. Brain gymnastics constitutes a coordinated set of integrating movements which facilitate the learning process. This set of exercise is to facilitate any type of learning, so that is becomes more natural, spontaneous and faster, contributing to better memorisation. Glenn Doman notices that the brain needs all senses for the development of intensive stimulation. With all senses, the information from the external world reach our brain where it is appropriately grouped and interpreted.
No tools are need to perform these sets of exercise and they can be performed in any conditions, adjusting them to child’s individual needs as well as their emotional condition. The other useful method of working with a small child isM. Ch. Knill’s method. They are activity programs developed by Marianna and Christopher Knill. They are supported with belief, supported with knowledge and practice, in that each child can be encouraged to show their own initiative and activity. The programs are enriched with specially composed music which is used to stimulate awareness of child’s own body and their motor skills. Finger plays conveyed from one generation to another have such positive impact on the child’s development that they can certainly be called a therapeutic technique for children and parents.
Finger plays , most of all, are highly involving for a child, making them smile and feel happy. A child very quickly takes over the initiative, trying to repeat certain movements and words. According to certain theories, these types of play have another meaning. Namely, motor centres responsible for hand movements located in the cerebral cortex are very near centres responsible for articulatory movements, for this reason, rehabilitating finger motor activity in child, it is possible to gain improvement of mouth, tongue and mandible efficiency. The most known and liked finger plays include: Itsy Bitsy Spider, Round and round the garden, Five Little Monkeys, etc.
One of the methods included in the multi-profile rehabilitation of disabled children is hippotherapy. The name comes from Greek (hippos - horse, therapeia - bringing back to health). Hippotherapy intervenes in the basic dimensions: motor, physiological and mental. This method stimulates child motor development, improves visual-motor coordination, positively impacts the respiratory and nervous system as well as makes a child more confident and increase self-esteem. It is a perfect occasion for respiratory exercise and exercise rehabilitating speech. Contact with a horse is for a child.
Stimulation of a child in various developmental planes (motor, manual development, visual perception, auditory perception, speech, plays, social and emotional behaviour, lateralisation, memory or early learning to read.
The stimulation (excitement) of the development of a small child, i.e. therapy, must be understood as conscious, systemic intervention of specialist and home environment on all cognitive fields with the purpose of optimal neutralisation of effects caused by genetic and perinatal damages. A child (human) constitutes unity and the quality of its cognitive and social functioning depends on harmonious shaping of all mental and physical abilities. Particular cognitive fields have a large impact on one another as well as condition one another. Therefore, one field cannot be evaluated without referring to other fields (e.g. it is not possible to diagnose visual perception without the analysis of motor and auditory development).
With continuous inflow of consciously organised stimuli, new abilities are shaped and new skills are consolidated in each week of a child’s life.