Early Child Development

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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.

  • Early support of child development consists in:
  • early, multi-specialist diagnosis of the condition of a child whose development has incorrect course
  • early, multi-specialist therapy directed to the child’s needs
  • regular evaluation of progress in child development
  • supporting parents, increasing their caring-rehabilitation-educational competences

Advantages of early support.

  • Children included in early development support:
  • faster acquire efficiency in the period of self-maintenance
  • become more able-bodied, more cognitively and emotionally mature
  • acquire readiness to stay in a new environment
  • more easily establish peer contacts
  • are better prepared to start regular school education.

Tasks of early development support:

  • provision of aid to the family in the scope of shaping attitudes and behaviours required at contacts with a child: reinforcing the emotional connection between parents and child, recognising child’s behaviours and reinforcement of appropriate reactions to such behaviours,
  • provision of instruction and advice as well as organising consultations for parents in the scope of work with a child,
  • aid in adjustment of conditions at home environment to a child’s needs as well as acquisition and use of appropriate educational resources and necessary equipment,
  • helping a child to fully use the developmental potential which they have in the scope of cognitive functions, motor development, communication and social contacts,
  • helping a child in gradual achievement higher and higher autonomy and independence according to his abilities,
  • preventing occurrence and worsening abnormalities in child psycho-motor development,
  • providing parents with support in connection with a long-term emotional crisis, arising from the fact of disability of their child,
  • gradual preparation of parents to roles of persons supporting the development of their child.
Key researchers of the matters of early child development adopt the assumptions that if child intelligence increases in the course of first 4 years of life and achieve a stage which constitutes a half of the scope which is achieved during the next 13 years, then it leads to serious educational consequences (acc. to Wyczesany J., W: Dykcik W. 2003). Dykcik states that the most important and the only way to achieve improvement in psycho-motor development disorders is early started and regular rehabilitating treatment as well as organisation and application of integral medical, psychological and educational help with the use of various forms of stimulating, rehabilitating, corrective and compensatory classes. The biggest chances for successful treatment are expected in the situation when a child is subject to early intervention. The learning, thinking process, creativity and intelligence are the processes which not only concern the brain, but the entire body. For example, the reading process is inseparably connected with the movement of eyeballs. The thinking process, that is the intellectual activity, cannot exist in isolation from the rest of the body. Science dealing with movement and its impact on learning with the entire brain is called Educational Kinesiology (‘kinesis” - movement, “logos” - science, hence learning through movement). The authors of Educational Kinesiology are American educationalists Paul and Gail Dennison. It aims to stimulate natural development of child personality and, in particular, animation and activation of natural mechanisms of brain operation by free movement. (Dennison P. 1997) Educational kinesiology assumes that movement plays a significant role in the learning process. The motion, as it becomes more complex, expresses knowledge and increases cognitive abilities (Hannaford C., 1995 ).

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. 

The selected methods of early support of development of vulnerable child.

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.

Early therapeutic intervention consists in:

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.