One of the great joys of parenthood is watching your child grow and develop. Nothing really compares to the excitement of seeing your child crawl for the first time, take their first steps, or hearing their first words.
Developmental milestones have been established for children aged two months to five years, to provide approximate timelines that parents can expect most children to develop – when and how they move, speak, act and play.
While most children without a developmental disability can be expected to meet development milestones, it is important to know that these milestones are simply guidelines. Children develop at different rates, and being a “little behind” is typically not something to be concerned about. However, if you are concerned that your child is significantly behind in meeting developmental milestones, it would be a good idea to seek professional assistance.
The First Step – Talk To Your Pediatrician
The first step to take if you suspect your child has a developmental delay is to speak to your pediatrician. Your pediatrician can screen your child for any other medical issues, such as hearing or vision disorders, that could impact your child’s development. If everything checks out fine in those other areas, but your doctor agrees that a developmental delay is present, then it would be best to have your child see a specialist.
Your Child’s Age Determines The Best Place To Connect For Specialized Support And Therapy
If your child is less than 3 years old, you may be eligible to receive services from your state’s Early Intervention program. These programs provide services and support for free, or at a reduced cost, to help babies and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities. Eligibility for Early Intervention services is determined by an evaluation of your child. This evaluation will also help determine the type of therapy and support your child will need. You can contact your state’s Early Intervention Program through this directory provided by the CDC.
If your child is 3 years old, or older, you can contact your local school district and ask to be connected to their special education department for an evaluation and assistance. You can also connect with private specialists, such as developmental behavioral pediatricians and therapists.
With Developmental Delays And Disabilities, Early Action Can Make A Huge Difference. Don’t Wait!
Sometimes parents may think that in time their child will “catch up”, and take a wait-and-see approach, but this simply won’t work. Early diagnosis and treatment provide the best chance for success.
Your child’s brain is most adaptable to change in the early years of life, as the neural connections that create the foundation for behavior and learning are forming. As your child grows, these connections solidify and can become harder to change, so successful outcomes really depend on initiating therapy as early as possible.
The sooner a developmental delay is identified and treated, the better the chance your child has to achieve their full potential. With the right care, your child can thrive!
If you have any questions about developmental delays and disabilities, or need a referral, please reach out to us. We are always here to help!