Types Of Therapies For Various Childhood Disorders

Sometimes, a child may have problems, developmental delays or other conditions that require therapy or treatment. Here is a list of interventions that can help with various childhood disorders.

By Jasmine Kaur

Types Of Therapies For Various Childhood Disorders

As parents, you always wish the best for your children and want them to grow up into healthy, well-rounded individuals. However, for some children, childhood is not a smooth ride. They may suffer from various physical and emotional issues or developmental delays that make day-to-day living, difficult.  

While some of these issues can be addressed by parents alone, at times, it may become necessary to seek out expert intervention and treatment. Here are five therapies that can help with various childhood problems:

1. Occupational therapy (OT):

What it is: A form of therapy primarily used for treating sensory, cognitive or physical deficits. So, it helps those who suffer from issues such as difficulty paying attention, coordinating, organising, and sensory processing. According to the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists: "Occupational therapy is a type of health care that helps to solve the problems that interfere with a person’s ability to do the things that are important to them." 

Reasons for referral to OT: OT is usually recommended when children have problems with: (1) Gross motor skills such as difficulty throwing and running, poor balance and posture, and coordination deficits; (2) Fine motor skills such as buttoning, grasping pencils and other objects, drawing and writing, using objects like scissors and rulers; (3) Sensory processing such as sensitivity to light, noise, touch, texture, and movement; (4) Self-care activities such as dressing and undressing, brushing teeth, combing hair, and eating using fingers or cutlery.

2. Art therapy:

What it is: Also known as arts therapy or expressive arts therapy. The idea here is that various art forms such as drawing, painting, dance, drama or sculpture can help individuals self-explore and express themselves better. The British Association of Art Therapists says that, "Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication. Within this context, art is not used as diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing and distressing."

Reasons for referral to art therapy: This therapy is beneficial for children who: (1) Have been exposed to violence and abuse; (2) Suffer from conditions such as cancer or other diseases; (3) Have physical disabilities or injuries; (4) Have mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or panic attacks; (5) Are addicted to substances, alcohol, the Internet, gambling and so on. According to the American Art Therapy Association, "Art therapy helps people resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviours, reduce negative stress, and achieve personal insight. Art therapy also provides an opportunity to enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of art-making."

3. Speech therapy:

What it is: Due to various reasons, some children may fail to meet speech and language developmental milestones. Speech therapy helps such children correct voice issues with pitch and volume, boost phonological awareness, improve vocabulary and understanding of language, and communication skills.

Reasons for referral to speech therapy: A child may be referred to speech therapy for reasons including: (1) Fewer words in vocabulary than is age-appropriate; (2) Stuttering; (3) Delayed speech; (4) Problems with chewing, swallowing and gagging.

4. Play therapy:

What it is: Children love to play. For them play is also an avenue to express their emotions, relieve stress and relax. This therapy is usually used with children who are three to twelve years old. Play therapy involves using drama, visualisation and aids like puppets to address children's behavioural and emotional issues. The Association For Play Therapy defines this method as, "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."

Reasons for referral to play therapy: Play therapy is recommended for children suffering from conditions such as post-traumatic stress, mood issues, anxiety, development issues and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Each play therapy session usually lasts between 45 and 60 minutes.

The idea behind this form of therapy is to get children to explore their lives and thoughts while being able to express themselves freely. Play therapy encourages children to become more respectful, empathetic, and better at dealing with problems and stress.

5. Physiotherapy:

What it is: The old saying 'A healthy mind resides in a healthy body' still remains true. Physiotherapy helps children gain strength, improve their range of motion and flexibility, decrease pain, increase endurance, and maintain good posture. According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association, "Physiotherapy extends from health promotion to injury prevention, acute care, rehabilitation, maintenance of functional mobility, chronic disease management, patient and carer education and occupational health."

Reasons for referral to physiotherapy: Children can referred for physiotherapy for reasons such as: (1) Rehabilitation after injuries; (2) Muscular disorders like dystrophy; (3) Gross motor delays (a child not walking or sitting at the right age); (4) Autism spectrum disorder; (5) Brain injuries.

Before starting any of the above therapies, do keep in mind that a correct diagnosis is necessary first. Then, the paediatrician or specialist will suggest the appropriate therapy for best results. Once that is done, it becomes your responsibility as parents to ensure that children undergo the requisite treatment modality to improve their quality of life. 

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