Therapies For Developmental Delay Treatment

Therapies for Students With Developmental Delays added by Caitlin Padick

There are many types of therapy available for children with developmental delays. Below I will discuss a few of the more popular that have achieved documented results and are endorsed by the National Institute on Developmental Delays. Please keep in mind as you read this that these therapies are not designed to "cure" a child's developmental delay, rather they are offered as stepping stones to help increase a child's mental stimulation and growth.

Vojta therapy, based off the research of Dr.Vojta and put into practice by Dr. Hellbruegge of the University of Munich, focuses on motor rehabilitation. There are three main methodologies of Vojta therapy. The first is the study of automatic postural reactivity or testing the way a child reacts to sudden postural changes. An example of this would be raising and lowering of a large parachute. The second methodology is Cinesiologic Analysis of Spontaneous Motor Function or examining the locomotive strategies that a student uses to respond to changes in spacial orientation. And finally Reflexology not only explores how a child reacts to certain stimuli but also provides for immediate diagnosis and possible prognosis. The objective of Vojta therapy is to change the reflex and locomotive response of the child to a more physiological track. This is most often attempted by introducing a different neurological activity that allows the child to move in a new physical way. It is called muscular proprioception.

Another, more well known, therapy is Art Therapy. Prinzehorn published a book Artistry of the Mentally Ill that documented the use of art as a creative expression of suppressed or non-vocalized emotion. Art therapy can be used to vent emotional conflicts, explore the idea of self and self image, and express feelings about physical and mental challenges. It can also be used as a tool of assessment, particularly with children, for those who are unable to voice their concerns. Art therapy is used for children with developmental delays to develop mental and physical coordination. It often occurs as painting, drawing and clay molding.

Agricultural Therapy is a particularly helpful method of therapy for children with developmental delays. Based on the Inadaptive Behavior Checklist, children that were part of the gardening program for 1 to 2 years showed improvement in the enervation and social isolation, excessive and deviant behavior, and crying, excitement and anger sections. Further in comparison to the pre-gardening program, persons with developmental delays showed improved social maturity including social age and social quotient. Females enrolled in the agricultural therapy program showed a greater improvement in inadaptive behavior than males, however the difference was negligible. This conclusively shows that in a group gardening setting significant social and behavioral maturity growth is seen in persons with developmental delays.


National Institute on Developmental Delays. 2002.