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Swim Lab International
Delilah sat on a ball reaching for a toy during her Early Intervention therapy weeks

What to expect in our Early Intervention therapy weeks

Early Intervention therapy weeks can play a critical role in reducing the impact of developmental delays for your child, helping them progress their development more quickly and smoothly.

Here at Swim Lab International, we use a unique combination of aquatic and land-based therapy with fun activities to help your child push past their limits and take strides towards living their best life.

We create a nurturing environment, working with your child’s natural desire to play and weave our therapeutic goals into the activities we choose. Our philosophy is that by making the therapy feel fun, your child is more engaged and wants to put in more effort for longer, achieving greater results. This is especially important in our Early Intervention therapy sessions, working with children as young as 18 months.

“I wasn’t too sure at first because Delilah’s not very mobile and because she’s so young, and I did think she might get a bit tired. Now I’m really glad we did! It’s been so good and she’s made so much progress. They’ve adapted to Delilah and her needs really well, which is great, because she has lots!”

Holly & Delilah

At this young age, our Early Intervention therapy weeks focus on more functional movements and the fundamentals like developing upper body strength or gross motor skills such as rolling. We’ll also work on some fine motor skills such as grasping, which paves the way for more independence with self-care activities.

Parents often find that there are added benefits, like an overall boost to self-confidence and communication skills, which can also help improve emotional regulation.

 

One family’s experience of our Early Intervention therapy weeks

We asked Holly, Mum to Delilah, to share their experience of one of our Early Intervention Therapy Weeks at Swim Lab International, Lanzarote.

At age 2, Delilah’s parents describe her as a Spina bifida and hydrocephalus warrior!

Holly shared, “Before coming here, Delilah didn’t feel very safe in the pool. I’m her safe place, normally if I’m not with her, she just doesn’t tolerate it, so I’ve been getting in with her every session and Veronica’s been taking over bit by bit. She was in the water with Veronica for most of the session today which shocked me, but in a good way, obviously!

They’ve pushed her hard enough to get results but not pushed her too much. You can tell she’s still having a great time, but she’s working really hard, they know the limits.”

“We didn’t really have big goals at the start of the week, we didn’t want to put too much expectation onto her, she’s only two, so you can only push so far, and it’s her first intensive so it’s her first time having a lot of therapy in one go. But actually, it’s been really good, she’s done far more than we really thought she would.

The goals were more like groundwork because we’ve got to get the basics before we can start with standing and stuff. We also wanted her to be more confident in the water with other people.”

Veronica, Delilah’s lead therapist for the therapy week, commented “We’ve taken a lot of small steps. As well as the physical progress, she’s more comfortable with me, more comfortable with the water and working really hard, and working really hard against her fears as well, and that counts as progress for sure. 

We have to take into account that babies need to go to discover new environments and meet new people, so they can feel more comfortable every time they go to a new place. This is just as important as the therapy itself, to become more comfortable going into the Early Intervention therapy weeks to get something out of them.

Holly went on to say, “I think our main goal was really to get her crawling position stronger. She’s got great head control when she’s sitting but as soon as she goes onto her belly, that’s when it deteriorates because of the muscles in her neck, so building up the muscles in her neck and the head control. That was the main thing we wanted to get out of it, and for her to be more happy and stable in the crawling position, so when we get home we can continue with that. You can see she’s already doing better with that.

We also wanted to get some exercises that we can do at home, especially in the pool, because at the minute she goes swimming, but we didn’t really know what to do with it. We’ve taken on board what Veronica showed us, so we can continue the therapy and then come back for more exercises, to make more progress.”

Veronica shared “Always on the first day, I just want to see how your kid’s doing because in the time from filing out the form and coming here, things can change, so I want to see how they are during the first sessions. I also like to see how they manage because it’s a new environment and new therapy, it might be the first time they’re doing it. So we see how they’re doing, and then we set the goals for the week. 

The parents tell me the goals they have in the beginning, and then we make a plan to get to the goals step by step; first this, then this, then this, so they always know what happens next.

So with Delilah, we wanted to get stronger with her upper body and the muscles in her neck so she can move her head more comfortably. So every time we did an exercise in the water or on land, I’ve shown how this exercise is good because we’re moving here, and here or using this muscle, or we’re improving balance, so each time they can see an example of what to look for and what to work. It’s important they realise how it’s working and they have some photos and videos as well so they can remind themselves at home.”

Holly continued “I think as well, for Delilah, it’s been great in the pool, but it will be even better next time because she’ll be taller so she’ll be able to stand in the water. For her, she can’t go under the water because she’s got an unsafe swallow, and she can’t stand up in the pool because she’s so small, but when she gets a bit bigger there’s more she can do, and she’ll be ready for it by then with the progress we’re making now.

I’d also really like to try Trexo next time, so we’re going to see if we can add that on, because I think that would be amazing.

The land sessions have been amazing. Veronica’s with her the whole time, holding her, doing exercises, but Delilah’s cracking up the whole time, she’s laughing, you can tell she’s having the best time. So that makes it better for us because we can see she’s having a great time but we can also see how hard she’s working, but because she’s having a great time she doesn’t even realise how hard until the end and then you can see she’s like, I’m really tired now.”

“We didn’t really have any expectations before coming here. I wasn’t too sure at first because Delilah’s not very mobile and because she’s so young, and I did think she might get a bit tired, but because she’s never done it I thought, we’ll try. Now I’m really glad we did! It’s been so good and she’s made so much progress.  

To other parents who aren’t sure about trying one of the Early Intervention therapy weeks, I’d say to go for it. I would definitely come back because we can see that she’s loved it and we can see her progress throughout the week, it’s been amazing. 

Especially with some of the older kids, it creates independence for them and that’s also one of the reasons we would like to come back. As she gets older it’s also a way of learning how to swim while doing physio, but they don’t realise they’re doing physio because it’s just like they’re going for a swimming lesson, in a sense. 

When she’s older, we would love for her to be able to swim not only for the safety part, but with her cousins and her friends, she’ll be able to join in and feel just like one of them, she won’t feel different, because she is different with her diagnosis. She’s not walking, she’s in her wheelchair, but when she’s in the water and she’s swimming she can play and she’ll be just as mobile as they are.

It’s hard in the UK with just normal swim schools because they’re not physios and they don’t know how to adapt so much to children with additional needs and if they do adapt it, are they doing it correctly? You don’t know. 

So I would say to go for it because everyone’s so lovely as well, so it’s not daunting. I was a bit nervous when we first came because we didn’t know anyone, but we literally just arrived at the centre on the first day, met Veronica and got into the first session, it wasn’t awkward at all, it was just really lovely. Everyone’s super friendly too.”

“And Delilah has had the best week, even mentally she’s come on. We’ve seen progress with her communication, like she’ll point to herself and say, Delilah, then to the sofa or the sun bed, and if you ask if she wants to go on she’ll say yes, whereas before she knew what she wanted but she couldn’t put it into context. She has just grown up in this week. 

I think partly that’s to do with the confidence, and to do with being in the water and wanting to be with me in the water at the start of the week, I think she made her mind up that she had to communicate it, so it forced her to communicate. 

Then she realised she knew how to do that so now she’s using it elsewhere. I think as well, she had to find a way to communicate what she wanted to Veronica. Veronica kept checking in with her and asking what she wanted during the sessions, like what toy or to continue on the ball, so she’s been communicating a lot more with her too. 

Even though we’ve come here for physio you get so much more out of it and I think for her the confidence to try things too.”

Veronica concluded “Early intervention therapy weeks are a really good way to start to develop a child’s ability and sociability. Even if they are small, they are really aware of everything that’s happening around them and they can really get a lot of benefits from coming here, even if they are that young. 

We always adapt to each kid even if they have the same pathology for example, but with the younger ones, we’re even more flexible and adapt to how they are on the day and what they need, to get the most out of the sessions. We have the facilities to work with small kids as well, so it makes it really easy.

We can work with mobile and immobile kids too. We have different goals and it’s a different approach, but we can always get something from them and make some progress.”

 

More about our Early Intervention therapy weeks

Ready to find out how we can help your child take the first steps towards reaching their full potential?

Check out our bespoke facilities and how we deliver Early Intervention therapy weeks for our youngest children, including our smaller-sized Trexo. 

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All motor skills need planning, coordination and strength, allowing your child to move their muscles...

If you've ever had conventional physiotherapy, you'll know how hard it can be to stay motivated...

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