How does a consultation with me go?
What exactly do I do as an Early Childhood Development Consultant?
Lately, this terminology is being used a lot, but it’s important to know that it is an interdisciplinary science that enters the fields of Neurology, Psychotherapy, Speech Therapy, and Pedagogy.
I consider all aspects of a child’s development from before birth until the age of seven, related to adaptation, socialization, neuro-motor, psycho-emotional, and language-speech development. In other words, I study how the child’s personality develops within the family and society systems.
I always work specifically with the individual in front of me and connect with them. Each one is unique and has their strengths and difficulties – gifted children, those within the norm, or those with behavioral and academic difficulties, as well as those with various syndromes such as autism, epilepsy, Down syndrome, and others.
I seek the individuality, the needs of the child, their desire for play, interaction, and learning, and I turn them into tools for overcoming lag, fear, unwillingness, and conflict that hinder their progress. At this moment, Individual Psychology by Alfred Adler and the principles of raising children by Richard Dreikurs come into play for empowering and nurturing children.
The main work and interaction are with the parents since they, through their love and partnership, habits, and understandings, create the environment for development on which both the child’s health and the activation of all those mysterious genes for talents and success, which are talked about so much, depend. We hope to see them in our children.
ALL children have genes for intelligence and happiness. We CAN unlock them!
And HOW do we unlock them?
Always with love and respect! The primary function of the brain is love and connection. From there, the game and exploration of the world, others, and oneself can take place. That’s how the brain learns. When we follow these rules, everything becomes clearer.
As a specialist, it is important for me to support parents in this challenge by teaching them daily practices that can ease their care, upbringing, and education of their child, allowing them to enjoy parenthood.
I apply a wide range of assessment techniques from neurology, neuropsychology, speech therapy, pedagogy, and psychotherapy. Therefore, I do not focus on how much the baby weighs or the circumference of their head, which are important aspects of pediatrics. Instead, I observe the skills that need to be well-developed for each specific stage of development the child is going through, in sync with their emotional development and social adaptation to the world and the family as the first and most important social group for the child.
I often observe missed periods, underdeveloped specific skills over time, delayed development, and problematic behavior, which actually demonstrate the brain’s attempts to catch up or compensate. I monitor these symptoms that often confuse and worry parents and assess the child’s place within the family dynamics and structure, their behavior outside the family. As a speech therapist and special educator, I also observe the child’s gross and fine motor skills, speech, attention, and other functions they demonstrate.
I am delighted to see parents with whom I work raising mentally resilient, happy, and supportive children using techniques that they often develop themselves through the process of communication and learning with their children.
How does an individual consultation proceed?
Both parents and the child attend the consultation. We start with the parents’ request, why they have come, what concerns them, or what questions they have. Once we clarify these initial matters, I guide them back to the period of pregnancy, the moment of birth, and the child’s first year, discussing everything specific, unique, or traumatic that has happened in the family in recent years. We talk about how the child has gone through each stage of development, how the parents have experienced it, what difficulties they have encountered, how they have coped, and what they feel they are not coping with. We discuss the roles within the family and observe how parents communicate and interact, who has been taking care of the child, and I ask questions and actively listen to their story.
The consultation moves forward based on the interaction process among all of us that takes place during the consultation itself.
Everything unfolds in a pleasant conversation while the child plays and relaxes in my office, becoming familiar with the environment. Once the child feels safe and calm, if needed, I begin to assess them—through play, of course.
It is important for the child to feel safe, respected, accepted, and understood.
I get down to their level and provoke them to communicate with me and show me what they carry within themselves. I challenge them through the pleasure of play and curiosity.
By the end of the consultation, I already have an understanding of the level of their psycho-emotional and neuro-motor development and their relationship with the parents, as well as their place within the family structure. Based on this understanding, I provide feedback to the parents regarding my professional opinion. If necessary, I guide the child and/or parents to specialists whom I believe would be helpful, or I offer options for working with us at the Academy.
Is one consultation enough?
It varies from case to case. Sometimes, one consultation is sufficient, while other times it may not be enough.
What happens next?
We usually schedule another meeting after about two months, but we stay in touch via phone on a weekly basis. Some consultations serve as advice for specific phases and stages of a child’s development and provide guidance for parents on how to navigate through these stages. I also explain the meaning behind their child’s behavior. We discuss topics such as when a child is ready to transition from diapers to potty training, weaning from a bottle, and more. We address important subjects such as teething, sleep patterns and insomnia, tantrums and feeding, night waking, newborn adaptation to the world or transitioning to daycare and preschool, preparing the first child for the arrival of a younger sibling, and many others.
And who are my clients?
My clients are all parents and their children! I provide consultations to expectant parents, as well as those with premature babies, young children, gifted children, or children on the autism spectrum. I also work with children facing difficulties in school and parents who simply need help and advice immediately after their baby is born. I guide them on what to do and highlight the important moments they will experience, introducing them to crucial stages of their child’s psycho-emotional, neuro-motor, and language-speech development. We discuss how to communicate with their children, the developmental stages the new family member will go through, how to raise their child, how to be good parents, how to be a good parent. We address topics such as sleep and how to help their child easily fall asleep in their own room. When does a child need special assistance? Problems in daycare or preschool. Disciplinary issues in school. Emotional intelligence, and many other questions related to early childhood development.
Being a parent is not easy, and it is impossible to know how to handle every situation on your own. Often, parents themselves go through difficult periods and traumatic events. My work is to support them.
We love our children intuitively, but raising them is a skill that can be learned.
You can read more about early childhood development and primary reflexes in the next article.