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Welcome to Todderhood – Part 1

Posted on: January 11th, 2012 No Comments

Today we’re going to talk about baby’s gross motor skill development between 12 and 18 months of age.  He has mastered creeping and crawling and graduated to furniture cruising.  His strength, coordination and balance grow daily.  Now, he begins to take those first shaky steps toward independent mobility!  He occasionally will fall as he practices his walking skills.  And, at times he may revert to crawling if he feels that is a more efficient way to reach his goals.  But, walking has opened up the world to him and he will be eager to experience it.

Children with autism may need additional support making the transition from crawling to walking.  Motor planning presents them difficulties.    To understand motor planning, think about trying to cross a stream by stepping on rocks.  You need to evaluate which rocks will best help you cross the stream without falling in, right?  Then, you step, hop and jump from one to the next using your arms to create momentum and maintain balance.  You may also have to adjust course during the trip.  Children with autism need extra practice developing these mental and physical skills.

Obstacle courses made from pillows are great ways for crawlers to grow their motor planning skills.  Whether your baby moves around or over the pillows he is still exercising his problem solving muscle as well as his body’s large muscle groups.  Obstacle courses are just as entertaining and valuable for beginning walkers!

Rocking or riding toys entice children to work on their core balance; learn how to hold on with two hands; and, continue upper body strengthening.  They’ll make use of their motor planning skills when they learn to place their feet on the base of the rocker.  I offer a word of caution, though.  Children with autism may not have the motor planning ability to extend their arms protectively when they lose their balance so stay close!

Just a reminder, early childhood development varies.  Your child’s development may be ahead or behind the age estimates and still be within normal ranges.  If you have questions about your child’s developmental progress, ask your pediatrician to conduct motor screenings during well baby visits.  If necessary, your doctor can make additional referrals to address any concerns that arise.

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