Over the course of about 20 years we have seen many, many children with varying development challenges and disorders. Our interventions have played a significant role in moving both society and the participants toward a dignified experience of life. Since the origins of our Adapted Gym Program (AGP) in 2002, we have been humbled by the efforts of parents and families with their children. We have been honoured to share their long-term process with us. In these 3 part blogs, we would like to share a few "sage" pieces of wisdom that has been gathered over these years.
Wisdom PT1: It’s a Marathon, not a Race…
Children’s development often follows a set of pattered “milestones” set forth by the medical establishment. These milestones seem to be imperative and predict later success as a youth or adult. However, for those with special developmental needs or delays this simply is not the case. Developmental milestones seem to aid in diagnosis and comparative analysis child to child, yet do little for achievable perspectives for the families with special needs. Once a child becomes 8, 9 or 10years the differentiation between neurotypical and special needs widens, which causes distress among the families of these children. What will happen in 5 yrs, 10 yrs…?
There are two important premises we have found to keep in mind with special needs children:
- It is never too late to work on something
- If you do nothing a lot, improvement will not occur
The above sounds simple, but in actuality most families still believe they may outgrow these delays or it is too late to try.
In the past, the assumption was that challenged "kids would eventually outgrow it", but research is now telling us that these challenges persist throughout the child’s life. Studies have also found that children who have motor skill deficits as children are less active as they grow older. Children with *dyspraxia are especially at risk for developing sedentary lifestyles because of their lack of success being active and interest in peer interaction. Progressive intervention therefore aims at improving motor skills, social and emotional capabilities, improving problem solving when approaching a motor task, and helping children find recreational activities that will prepare them to be active for the rest of their lives.
How can this all happen? Well, only with a long-term perspective. Remember it’s a marathon, not a race. An intervention that last 8 weeks will not affect a long-term change. A child needs frequency, repetition, relationship building and solid strategizing by professionals. From our experience, we see long-term progressive change and improvement compared to those who do not participate in the AGP. Such things as resolving fear of heights, running and gait improvements, focus and attention increases, relationships, enjoyment of activity, confidence, knowledge, skipping, biking and other complex motor skills. We have seen the results of a long term perspective and know its really the best way to help families.
*Dyspraxia is a term used to describe children who appear clumsy, have poor balance, and have difficulty performing activities in their daily lives, such as dressing, self-care, toileting, coloring, and playing on the playground. Children with dyspraxia often have challenges with visual perceptual skills, motor planning, and academic demands. Dyspraxia falls under the diagnostic term Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), but is also frequently seen with other developmental disorders (ie.GDD), including ADHD, hypotonia and Autism spectrum disorders(ASD).