Children with physical or developmental disabilities who are diagnosed at birth or in early infancy may be scheduled for infant stimulation, physical therapy and other interventions that start before the age of three months. When my son was diagnosed with Down syndrome a few hours after his birth, I was surprised to learn about the array of activities and therapies that were recommended before his first birthday.
When we enrolled in the local playgroup for families whose children qualified for early intervention services, I found to my delight that many of the home activities recommended were similar to those I had enjoyed when I took his older sister to Mommy and Me classes. Although more purposeful, and certainly with more complicated names, the games and play recommended were many that she and I had enjoyed before her little brother came along.
Because we were equally far from two excellent early intervention programs, I met several infant specialists who had experience with babies with Down syndrome and had trained in different programs. I also read every piece of information available so that I could give my son the best start possible - just as I had tried to do with his sister.
Other family members were more comfortable holding and caring for my son when they discovered that rocking babies and even 'playing airplane' with toddlers was 'vestibular stimulation' for 'sensory integration.' At least one infant gym business had based their program on infant stimulation and early intervention research for babies with Down syndrome.
When I enrolled my son in the same program his sister enjoyed, I discovered he was more interested and motivated to participate than in our Mommy and Me class or therapy at his early intervention center. When his therapist noticed the advances he was making at the mainstream infant gym class, a group from his center asked permission to observe several classes, and did incorporate those creative and fun games and activities that naturally complemented what children at the center had been doing.
There is a great deal more research available on the way mainstream baby minds work and develop, as well as research into therapeutic activities and games that are helpful for babies and children who have Down syndrome or other developmental disabilities. Results that both types of research share most often are how important and necessary face to face, one to one contact and communication is with every child. Reflecting interest, enjoyment and communication builds more capacity and aptitude than we ever imagined. Having a good time playing with babies and young children who have developmental or physical disabilities is good for them and for us.
Browse at your public library, local bookstore, or online retailer for books like: Browse at your local bookstore, public library or online retailer for books like:
Hopscotch, Hangman, Hot Potato, & Ha Ha Ha: A Rulebook of Children's Games
Amazing Minds: The Science of Nurturing Your Child's Developing Mind with Games, Activities and More