Therapy for Infants & Toddlers with Developmental Delays

Doctors and researchers at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone recommend treating infants and young children with developmental delays as soon as possible. This helps prevent the condition from persisting or worsening over time.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act allows families to obtain free therapeutic and support services for babies and toddlers with developmental delays, regardless of income level. The program, which is offered by all states for children up to age three, is called Early Intervention.

Services include hearing and vision tests; speech therapy; physical and occupational therapy; and family education and counseling. The goal is to help babies and toddlers attain key developmental milestones, such as walking, talking, and interacting with others, before they begin school.

Our doctors can supplement Early Intervention services or provide specific services and therapies for infants and preschoolers.

Our pediatric specialists also work to rapidly identify and treat conditions that can cause cognitive problems, including seizure disorders and brain infections such as meningitis.

Occupational and Physical Therapy

Our occupational therapists help children with fine motor problems or difficulty processing sensory information, such as light, sound, and touch. For instance, they might offer exercises to help a child learn to tie his or her shoes or handle small toys. They may also give your child strategies and tools, such as light or sound games, to help him or her respond appropriately to bright lights, loud sounds, and unusual tactile sensations.

Physical therapy focuses on improving your child’s strength, coordination, and balance. Therapists offer exercises and activities to help your child achieve developmental milestones, such as standing and walking.

Speech and Feeding Therapy

If your child has a language or speech delay, a speech-language pathologist can teach you how to improve communication skills through language development, speech production, and language use. For instance, you can build your child’s vocabulary and sentence length by talking to them in short, concrete sentences while performing everyday activities, like taking a bath or playing with toys. The specialist also counsels parents about age-appropriate speech and language milestones and how to help their children improve their ability to communicate.

Speech-language pathologists at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation can help identify and manage speech and language difficulties in toddlers and young children. Treatment may not begin until the therapist determines the cause of a speech delay.

If your child has a delay in receptive or expressive language, the speech language pathologist may engage your child in a series of activities to stimulate language development, such as looking at and talking about books or practicing pronunciation.

For children who have an oral motor problem that interferes with bottle feeding or chewing and swallowing food, the speech language pathologist may use facial massage or tongue, lip, and jaw exercises to strengthen the mouth’s muscles and improve feeding. These exercises may be combined with speech therapy.

Resources for Developmental Delays in Children
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