Movement Matters: Explore the World and Expand the Mind

Acting and knowing are inseparable aspects of human life. Children spend a great deal of time engaging in behaviors such as moving, throwing, and wiggling around, all with no apparent goal. However, research supporting current theoretical views of development reveals that there is more purpose to physical movement than previously thought. Typical toddlers travel 39 football fields in a day creating stimulating learning opportunities about themselves and their environment. The freedom of movement afforded by self-initiated mobility greatly expands opportunities for children to explore and interact as they move toward desired objects, locations and people who are beyond their stationary reach. Research demonstrates that these kinds of experiences are critical for the development of visual spatial cognition, problem solving, communication, social-emotional regulation and postural control and underlie a full range of skill development. In contrast, young children with physical disabilities spend more time sitting than their peers, experience low daily physical activity, and are typically positioned in non mobile therapeutic equipment and pushed in strollers or wheelchairs for mobility. Without a means for self-initiated mobility, they have limited opportunities to access their surroundings, which further limits their ability to initiate, explore, discover, interact and learn. The effects of providing self-initiated mobility experiences to young children with cerebral palsy to enhance learning will be shared. Activities for participation in natural settings and recommendations for matching self-initiated mobility devices and modifications to the child’s abilities and environments will be described through slides and videos.