In the most general sense, pediatric therapy would be any medical treatment designed to alleviate or help treat conditions in children, usually from birth to the age of 18. In this way, pediatric therapies could be understood as the care given by doctors to children, for instance. Any condition in the pediatric patient requiring treatment or remediation would essentially require some form of therapy. However, more often, the term may be used to discuss specific types of therapies that have use in the pediatric setting. These might include occupational, speech-language, and physical or mental health therapy, as designed specifically for children.
Often, there are pediatric therapy offices that offer a variety of therapy options to help children with developmental deficits. They might begin working with kids with autism or Down’s syndrome early on, and they could provide a variety of different therapies to deal with multiple disabilities or growth delays. Many of these offices conduct their work on a private basis, but parents in the US should be aware that a child with diagnosed disabilities might be eligible for free pediatric therapy, beginning very early in life, through the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) program. Contacting the local SELPA office and inquiring about these therapies and eligibility is well worth doing, since services from SELPA are free and they even provide things like nursery or preschools for students with a variety of different special needs. Local pediatric therapy offices may also work with a SELPA program.
While things like speech-language, occupational and physical therapy may be offered together, the other form of pediatric therapy, mental health counseling, is usually separate from these. However, counselors like child psychologists or psychiatrists and some licensed clinical social workers or marriage and family therapists, may work closely with other therapists. When children are in need of therapy to address learning issues or delays in development, it is sometimes the mental health counselor who sees this and points it out, though a pediatrician or a teacher might be the one who recommends other forms of pediatric therapy for a child. However occasionally, the state of mental overwhelm of a child is due to learning deficits or developmental disabilities, and learning to fix these helps to create mental ease.
In all these different forms of pediatric therapy, the basic recognition is that children are not adults. Their bodies, their minds, and their spirits need attention through very different methods of treatment than those given to adults. Understanding how children respond to therapy, how to encourage them, and also how to work with frequently worried parents, who may end up as part of the therapy team, is vital. When people are told to seek any kind of therapy for their child, they often prefer working with specialists in pediatrics because they can be assured of this recognition, that any therapy given to a child must be designed specifically for children.