From reading James’s case study it is clear that James suffers from developmental delays in regards to social, emotional and cognitive development- this may have been an ongoing issue from birth. James was born prematurely at 32 weeks and was small for gestational age on the 30-week scan- he remained in the neonatal unit for 4 weeks. James was referred to the community paediatrician at the age of 3, having suffered from many developmental delays such as, speech delays, gross and fine motor skills, weak postural tone, hand-eye coordination difficulties, playing with peers- this indicates that James is failing to meet his developmental milestones. As highlighted by Mooney (2013, 103) ‘Vygotsky, showed that children’s cognitive development is not only affected by their physical development but also by their social surroundings and interactions.’ This essay will discuss how James has made developmental progress, through the scaffolding of his parents, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, and Classroom assistant. Scaffolding children was introduced by Bruner a cognitive theorist but was often used in Vygotsky’s work, supported by Macleod-Brudenell (2008:145) ‘Scaffolding is most effective when it is within ZPD but relates to an activity that the child has not yet achieved competence in.’
As James was born premature he remained in the neonatal unit for four weeks, this was to enable James’s body to catch up on the growth and development that he missed out on in the womb. Kerstjens, Bocca-Tjeertes, de Winter, Reijneveld, Bos (2012) explained that ‘Moderately preterm-born children (32–35 weeks’ gestation) are at risk for both neonatal morbidities after birth and developmental delays in early childhood.’ James was sent home to a supportive environment where all his needs were met. His mum took a career break giving him all the encouragement that was required in the pre-school years. However, he was referred to the community paediatrician by the health visitor at the age of three, where they carried out a neurological assessment. A neurological assessment is carried out to support the child to ensure they do not have any underlying problems in connection to the nervous system, as it can cause delays in the child’s overall development. According to Macleod-Brudenell (2008:330), ‘The theorists Vygotsky and Bruner both expounded the belief that children will develop to their full potential only with the assistance of adults.’ It was shown that James showed a startle response to loud noise and touch was present.
From birth James’s fine and gross motor skills have been delayed. He did not crawl but walked at 18 months, he had difficulty kicking a ball, doing jigsaws and tabletop activities. Mooney,C. (2013, 103) points out that ‘Piaget believed that stages of cognitive development are tied to physical development.’ Supporting James’s needs he was referred to the occupational therapist where they worked to try to encourage his fine and gross motor skills and balance. The occupational therapist then worked with James carrying out massages to his hands and feet, this is done to help improve his motor skills and weak postural tone as they will work on grasping and releasing objects. NHS (2018) conveys the importance of occupational therapists, ‘Occupational therapists will spend time finding out about the child’s and family’s typical daily life and what they want, need or are expected to do. They will then work together with the child, family, and other key people to evaluate what helps or hinders their involvement in daily life roles.’ James’s parents also carried out the programme at home, this meant that James was continuously receiving support at home to help benefit his fine and gross motor skills. The support that James was given has clearly enabled him to make developmental progress, as when James started nursery he was making progress on climbing, throwing and catching- this indicates to me that the work carried out from the Occupational therapist benefited James’s fine and gross motor movements.
A speech and language therapist was put in place to support James giving him the help he needs and to also work with the parents and playgroup staff to ensure they are meeting his needs. According to Bandura (1977), he believed that children learn best through observing, therefore the influence of James’s role models will have a significant effect on his speech and language. The speech and language therapist works with other authorities related to James to develop an education plan, to ensure he is getting all the help he needs eg. Speech and language. Due to James struggling to interact with other children this could have an effect on his language development, as social interaction with other children is a huge impact on children’s speech and language. When children play, they constantly use language, giving instructions and roles to each other- this is when children learn from each other. Supported by Monney (2013:101) ‘Children learn from each other every day. They develop language skills and grasp new concepts as they speak to and listen to each other.’ Within two months of starting nursery James was beginning to initiate play outside and interact with other children, this has shown me that the work carried out from the speech and language therapist has enabled James to become more confident in himself which may help boost his social interaction.
James was also prone to emotional outbursts, avoided eye-contact and preferred to play on his own. As Mooney,C. (2013, 108) stresses ‘Encouraging peer interactions will best support children’s growth and development.’ Piaget argues that in order for children to develop and learn they must take part in activities with other peers. When James started nursery an assessment was carried out by an educational psychologist, this assessment was carried out to tackle challenges which may include: learning difficulties, social and emotional problems. An educational psychologist supports children with additional needs, working alongside other authorities, and in partnership with the parents of the child and other professionals to help the child reach its full potential (Enquire:2017). As James preferred to play alone and avoided interaction with other children, this could affect his social and emotional development, as he is not communicating with others and building friendships. Playing with other children can help James build upon his independence, confidence, and self-esteem. Playground one (2018) states ‘Children learn to socialize with peers and build relationships when playing with others and practice independence when playing alone. Free play helps develop problem-solving skills and may help improve conditions such as ADHD.’ The support that James received helped him interact with other children which was shown when he started nursery, however, it remained limited- this will improve with continual support from the one-to-one classroom assistant.
James then began nursery and was assigned a classroom assistant to help meet his development needs, which worked on a one-to-one basis to ‘Scaffold’ James’s needs. This was set in place to help and assist James, to give him all the support he needed within the classroom- within the influence of the ‘zone of proximal development.’ Wilson and Devereux (2014) explains ‘Scaffolding in ALL contexts entails a very specific kind of support which works with students’ “zones of proximal development” (ZPD) (Vygotsky, 1978) enabling them to achieve far beyond what they could accomplish individually.’ The one-to-one assistant was put in place by the educational psychologist, speech and occupational therapist, in a case conference. This therefore, developed James’s integration into the classroom setting and imported his motor neuron skills by encouraging him to take part in group activities eg. circle time.- which was shown to be improved. Expressed by Children’s Campus (2018) ‘Circle time is a great way for pre-schoolers to get a sense of community with other kids their age and enhance their social skills and improve their attention span.’ The work from the classroom assistant gives James the confidence to interact play, enabling him to communicate with peers.
James struggled to sit still, he preferred to be on the move and he did not engage well in shared activity. This indicates to me that James has a short attention span meaning he struggles to sit still for a long period of time without getting distracted, this may be why James struggles to participate in shared activities as he finds it difficult to concentrate and sit still to complete the activity. A short attention span can indicate that James may be suffering from dyslexia or ADHD, supported by Karen, E., Dakin, M.Ed., and Gerald Erenberg, M.D. (2017) ‘Dyslexic children, like children with ADHD, may have difficulty paying attention because reading is so demanding that it causes them to fatigue easily, limiting the ability to sustain concentration.’ With the help of James’s one-to-one classroom assistant his attention began to improve during circle time, and also his interaction in the classroom was improving. Through the support of the classroom assistant James was becoming more settled in the classroom, as the classroom assistant will follow a routine, quiet teaching environment (little distraction) and give praise when appreciate. These techniques used to support James learning can mean that his overall concentration will begin to increase as he remains focused- through the encouragement from the classroom assistant. According to Bowlby attachment theory (1958), children who have a strong attachment will gain confidence, security- as the child know that the adult will respond to their needs.
Due to the developmental process James has made it was decided to continue his one-to-one support into the school environment, to ensure he was getting all the additional support he may require to meet his developmental milestones. In my opinion, I feel James may be suffering from ADHD, which has yet to be picked up on by the educational psychologist- as he is only showing early stages eg. Emotional outbursts, difficulty in sitting still, no understanding of turn taking. The support that James received from his parents, classroom assistant, community paediatrician, educational psychologist, occupational and speech therapist in relation to the different theories, is evident in the developmental progress James has been showing, as much overall progress has been observed (eg. Initiating play, coordination, fine and gross motor skills).