Educating Local Communities

Why approach community groups? 
Supporting the community groups that are part of infant and toddler activities, like swim schools, day care centres and Gymberoo, will provide the carers with enough confidence to speak to parents when there is a concern. Some common concerns would be motor delays, a lack of tone or if the child isn’t progressing in the program as expected.  Carers and teachers create a close relationship with the children they see and often they are willing to help by doing recommended rolling exercises with the child at their centre. Providing them with a knowledgeable local professional that can help look after the kids allows the staff and families to make the best choices for their children. 

How to Approach the Groups  
Most centres and community groups will have regular staff development days.  This is a great time to engage with all the employees of the business as they are all going to be at the meeting already.  Explaining the best environment for baby’s brain stimulation as well as the postural reflexes and their purpose, helps the staff to better understand what is necessary for creating the best sensory rich environment for the babies.  Having some basic knowledge regarding normal developmental progression allows them to understand the significance of a delay in motor development and the importance for babies and toddlers to be examined earlier rather than later.

Provide ongoing Resources
Giving a passionate talk to your local groups will get them aware of the benefits of referring to their local chiropractor and enable them to recommend an exam at your office to the parents.  They will have learned a lot of information in a very short amount of time that may seem obvious to us, but is most likely completely new to them.  I find it helpful to also leave a resources pack that includes my office brochures and business cards, the informational A5 flyers from Inspiral and the Ticklish book by Jennifer Barham-Floreani.  These products provide a local contact and easy to read information about normal development and ways to support the infant through the many stages of growth between birth and early school years.  It is up to us as chiropractors to make the link between development and the adjustment for our wider community. 

My Personal Story
I have spoken to both a parent’s group and instructors at a swim school at their staff development meeting.  The staff training day at the swim school was for 15 instructors and I covered information starting with the birth process right through the first year of life.  I had spoken previously to the owner/director of the school and was able to learn about what types of holds, activities and support they were looking for.  By knowing what knowledge they needed, I was able to describe expected tone in the different holds.  I was also able to explain how a child’s lack of engagement with the sea garden toys (low spontaneous movement) and a child’s unhappiness floating on their back could be related to their nervous system.  The instructors reported they understood what they were seeing in the pool better and felt confident recommending chiropractic care children who they felt needed a chiropractic assessment.
When I spoke to the parent’s group, I presented information about the significance of plagiocephaly and the importance of engaged and active tummy time.  I was also able to educate about the importance of wearing the baby and not just creating a “container baby” moving them from capsule to bassinet and back again.  The information about the difference in play between having mum and dad read a book and play with blocks and traditional toys as opposed to watching a DVD or using an educational app or electronic game was well received.  The two things I make sure the mother’s know is to trust their intuition and that parenting is not a competition.  Two things I would have found very helpful to be reminded of when my angel was little. 

If you are passionate about helping children and families, start by learning as much as you can about infant and toddler development, appropriate adjusting techniques and educate your local community groups. 
Written by Edna Giuntini, Chiropractor