What is a Developmental Therapist?

How a child grows and changes from birth to 3 years of age is the most dramatic process in human development and is impacted by biological and environmental factors as well as the overlapping effects of these two. It is the role of the Developmental Therapist to understand the complex nature of the many forces that influence child development as that development progresses through natural changes over the 0-3 year period; to recognize deviance from that progression in any area of development; to comprehend the developmental importance of specific skills and the influence of those skills on other skills as well as all areas of development; to minimize a child's functional limitations by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions for the child and the family; and to offer consultation to other therapists and professionals on confounding developmental influences affecting each area of expertise and developmentally appropriate practice for children birth to three years.

The functions of a Developmental Therapist are:

- To assess global development by performing formal and informal evaluations of the seven recognized areas of development (Cognitive, Receptive Language, Expressive Language, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Social-Emotional, and Self-Help skills) along with cultural, ethnic, social, economic, and nutritional influences in the child's environment;

- To determine the impact of the child's sensory processing, perception, memory, temperamental characteristics, attachment, variability of cognitive and personality processes on the child's physical, cognitive and psychological development;

- To use this information to plan and implement appropriate intervention strategies for the desired outcomes related to a child’s cognitive, psychological, and social-emotional development in order to maximize independent functioning, and for establishing global developmental homeostasis;

- To evaluate the success of those interventions and modify treatment as may be necessary to effect the desired outcomes;

- To inform, educate, and train parents in order to prepare them to utilize the intervention strategies in their activities of daily living, and to prepare parents for their child’s anticipated course of development. 

- To engage in consultation, education, and research.

The Developmental Therapist is obligated to keep pace with rapid advances in research impacting child well-being and development, and incorporate the findings into functional applications to help children with disabilities and delays to improve their quality of life at home and in the community.