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When is a Reach More Than a Reach?

Children’s Motor Skills: When is a Reach more than a Reach?

Early life events are a big deal!

Motor skills are actually an essential aspect for all that we hope our children will be — thriving socially and emotionally.

Every sensory-motor skill developed as an infant is essential for building another skill somewhere down the road. This concept is called laddering — the skills ladder on top of each other.

When one skill is skipped there is an impact to subsequent ones. Perhaps they take more time to develop, work a little slower, or cause a child to skip over a series of related skills to something more advanced. (Think skipping crawling completely and going straight to walking.)

A reach is so much more than a reach!

As parents we aren’t fully attuned to how each discrete developmental step is essential to the future of other domains of skills. For example, purposeful reaching (which should happen around 5 months of age) is not only a motor skill: the act of reaching involves and refines developing visual skills later used for reading books and social settings.

The act of reaching for a person is indeed one of the first stages of social communication and emotional development.

Read more about the laddering of skills throughout the years of a child’s social emotional development in this National Center for Biotechnology Information summary updated in 2019 — Developmental Stages of Social Emotional Development In Children

How is Development of a Reach Movement Derailed?

What are reasons a child may not correctly develop a reaching motion?

At Kinetic Konnections, no matter what the challenge, we look for the root of the issues impacting a child’s success. This takes us to some interesting places for reasons motor skills get derailed.

The following are of some of the earliest causes we find that impact reaching(in developmental order).

  • Prenatal positioning impacting the complete development of movements between an arm and torso.
  • Birth trauma when baby’s arm is commonly used as a handle to pull baby out via C-section. (approx. 32% of all births in US)
  • PICU, NICU Monitoring attached to neonates and infants. The monitoring is attached and stabilized, preventing movement of the arm.
  • Invasive medical procedures prior to five months old. The IVs, respiratory support, and incision recovery all interfere with essential tummy time, which develops shoulder, core, and neck strength.
  • Injuries to hands and arms such as sprains and fractures.

How do we help?

At Kinetic Konnections we understand the relationships between these early life events and the challenges your child may be having in life and school. The older the child, the more likely these gaps surface as academic processing delays or shut-down behaviors. Sometimes it’s ADHD. Each child is unique given the level of skill gap and the way they’ve learned to adapt.

We look at the foundational movement interactions. These movements begin forming before birth and increase in complexity as an infant. This unique insight provides the starting point for rebuilding the limb and core relationships which were missed or skewed. We then use the gentle movements of the Bridging Technique to support and rebuild the motor skills.

The amazing part? The child’s muscles seem like they’ve been waiting for the right help to function correctly. The change is immediate and lasts. Daily life reinforces the new movement relationships.

What is even more amazing? The subsequent laddered skills automatically start changing and moderating. Social skills become more age appropriate with increased ability to read the non-verbal aspects of communication—facial expression, intonation, body language and linguistic inferences. It seems like restoring the missing skill allowed an entire set of gears to shift!

Why this matters to us, and to you

We find adults and children who have mystery performance or pain issues very often have had an early age hospitalization or surgical procedure creating a skip or skew in the most fundamental ladder rungs of development.
Once we put the pieces together so much changes!

In case you missed the recent discussion of ‘The Hidden Impact of Medical Procedures on Children’: Why can hospitalization impact developmental foundations?

We see many children with mystery behavioral, growth, cognitive, and social-emotional challenges. A common theme amongst the children is early-in-life medical intervention (which was often life-saving.)

Here are some aspects of common medical procedures and how we find they affect development.

  • Lumbar puncture for high fevers (The location of the puncture is where the diaphragm and hip flexor meet. We find respiratory implications and/or subsequent challenges to movement transitions for crawling and walking.)
  • Respiratory support which can include intubation. (We find motor-control for the head and arms is impacted by the insertion process, leaving bilateral visual-motor development asymmetric.)
  • Abdominal surgery (Appendix and hernia are most common). (We find movement symmetry impacted — skewed to the side of the body where internal scarring restricts movement.)
  • IVs and monitoring (Restricted limb movement affects push and pull movements. The arms and legs need to push and pull to establish the rich core interactions required for postural control used in play and learning.)

Did your child or a loved one have medical procedures as a child? We can help solve many unseen or mystery challenges.

How do I get started?

You can call 847-390-8348 or schedule online for a session.

To find out how we can specifically help you, or your loved one check out our website for more info about development and academics.

Check out the weekly FB videos where I share a more detailed description of common challenges from the office and how we use Bridging to help.