BI, anxious temperament and physical therapy


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Task Oriented Movement Therapy 0-4 website

“Learning to navigate the social world is a core developmental task. To do so adaptively, children must create for themselves a stable understanding of who they are as individuals and their place within the specific social context that surrounds them. One need not be a trained psychologist to note the wide individual differences displayed by children, and later adults, as they come to find their place in the world. Indeed, we have centuries of writing and debate attempting to explain why some children eagerly embrace the ambiguities and uncertainties of their environments as opportunities for discovery and surprise, while other children retreat from the world, overwhelmed by an unpredictable landscape they see as marked by signs of threat and risk. (Perez-Edgar et al 2014)”

Pediatric physical therapists often encounter children who exhibit fear related behaviors that interfere with their ability to learn new skills, as well as their ability to function well and participate fully in home, school and community life.

Difficult behaviors range from negative hyper-arousal and poor emotional regulation to fearfulness coupled with avoidance of certain tasks, meltdowns and tantrums,  strong responses to certain sensory events and separation anxiety. All of these behaviors are part of the profile of a child with a fearful temperament disposition, known as behavioral inhibition (BI), coupled with poorly developed emotion and cognitive self-regulation. In some children these behaviors may be a sign of a clinical anxiety disorder.  Read more