As a pediatric physical therapist, one of the things we hear the most from parents is, ‘I want my child to walk’. And this is completely understandable. Its how we get around, how we explore the world. However, what if walking limits the child’s independence? I’m not here to say what is the right way to do things and the wrong way to do things but just to raise some things for families to ponder as they continue to support their child’s growth and development.
Children are always interacting with the environment. When they are really little they are limited with their abilities. Mostly its what is brought to them or what they can see from their current position. As they grow and get stronger, most kids start to develop some independent movement. That could be rolling, getting into sitting, scooting, crawling, pivoting, standing, cruising, walking, etc. Each change in movement and ability changes their perception of their environment and how they interact with that environment as well as the people around them. For the first time they can see something and figure out how to get there if they want to learn more about it. Its amazing how resourceful kids can be when they want to be.
For kids who have delays, for whatever reason, independent exploration can be hard for them. They are often dependent on others to get them from one place to another, or to bring the world to them. What if we could work hand in hand with them to discover alternative methods of having the independence to explore their environment or move without anyone’s hands on them, while at the same time continuing to promote their gross motor abilities. There are some great tools out there that can increase mobility for kids, from an early age. While I know using assistive devices or wheeled mobility is not for every child or family, it is an option to give them that independence while their other skills are still developing.
I’ve linked to some resources above, but one of my favorites is the work of Go Baby Go and their use of powered kid cars that have been adapted with increased support as well as switches to make them go. The kids love them!
I would love to hear from people about their experiences with using early mobility to increase independence vs focusing only on gross motor milestone development.