Monday, November 15, 2010

Touch stimulation and socio-emotional development

When I began working with infants and their caregivers in the fostercare system just 6 years ago I was often met with skepticism and questions from other mental health professionals like: " you know this client is an infant?! Why does an infant need a therapist?" I believe they had pictures in their heads of me sitting behind a couch , notebook in hand, with a baby lying on it pondering a mobile?!!!! Times have changed thanks to brain research and the evidence that early childhood intervention is beneficial due to the plasticity of the brain during the first 18months (particularly as regards attachment) and then first 5 years of life.

If your baby has been in an orphanage or foster-care (this is especially true of internationally adopted children) prior to joining your family you know that their basic needs have been taken care of : feeding, clothing, sheltering, medical attention. However there is often not the time, or the motivation for that caregiver, to encourage the socio-emotional development by holding, hugging, touching, playing, laughing with the baby.

Now your baby is home, the best toy is you the parent and the best stimulation for the brain and nervous system are all these fun interactions.
Infant massage allows focused time for all these interactive experiences. It is duirng these times with the adoptive parent that the baby understands that he/she is special and precious in the eyes of his/her own parent.

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