Therapy for Older Children with Developmental Delays

Specialists at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone may recommend specific therapies for children over age three and adolescents who have developmental delays with or without behavioral problems. Depending on the diagnosis, our doctors may refer your child to therapists and other providers at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital or in your community.

A specialist typically provides therapy for a few months, then evaluates your child’s progress.

Speech Therapy

A speech-language pathologist teaches a child with language and speech delays or disorders how to improve communication. This may include helping the child learn to talk in sentences of increasing complexity and working on speech production. The pathologist also offers strategies for relearning language skills that may have been lost due to an accident or surgery.

The specialist counsels parents about age-appropriate speech and language milestones and how to help their children improve their ability to communicate. Our doctors can refer you to a network of speech-language pathologists.

Occupational and Physical Therapy

Our specialists may refer your child to an occupational or physical therapist who treats school-aged children with motor delays. This type of therapy helps children attain the physical skills and dexterity to perform age-appropriate activities at home and at school, whether moving around the classroom, playing with friends, or participating in sports.

Occupational therapists focus on tasks that involve fine motor skills, such as tying shoes and writing with a pencil or pen. Physical therapists offer exercises to improve strength, balance, and coordination in children with gross motor problems, which can affect activities such as walking up stairs, running, and jumping.

Our occupational therapists also help children with sensory processing disorders swap the soft, nontextured, or “white” foods of infancy for more highly textured, colorful, age-appropriate foods.

Social Skills Therapy

Social skills therapy is a research-based approach to teaching children as young as three how to behave in a social setting, control their behavior, and communicate more effectively. This type of therapy is usually provided in a group setting with a social worker or psychologist who is experienced in working with children who have a social or emotional delay, such as shyness or tantrums, attention difficulties, or autism spectrum disorder.

Our therapists choose structured, age-appropriate activities that build and reinforce important social skills, such as coping with shyness; interpreting nonverbal cues; sharing; initiating and maintaining play; and following directions.

Our therapists also teach parents and caregivers how to support a child struggling with a social or emotional delay. They may offer strategies for helping your child counteract negative emotions and building his or her self-esteem. Our specialists also help your child learn how to recognize social cues to encourage social and emotional development.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Our therapists also offer cognitive behavioral therapy, in which children are given strategies for reducing worries or fears and improving social and behavioral skills. This helps reinforce improvements in children with social and emotional delays. The therapist can help your child focus on a specific challenge, such as a refusal to talk due to extreme shyness, anxiety about interacting with peers, or difficulty regulating behavior.

Parents are included in this treatment so you can apply the skills attained during therapy to your child’s home and social environment. Your child’s therapist can also suggest rewards to reinforce your child’s progress.

Resources for Developmental Delays in Children
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