Keeping up with the Jones’ – how do I know if my child has a developmental delay?

The iMums are proud to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month #BHSM and publish the following article from a parent who was concerned about her child’s development.  We hope that if you have concerns about your child, you will consider looking into early intervention to help them.  #earlyinterventioncounts

As a parent, you often find yourself asking questions. Is this normal? Should my child be doing this or that. I know that I am guilty of that too, I watch what other children are doing and often compare my toddler to others. For example, my son uses an open cup to drink – does yours?  When do you know as a parent that something might be wrong? Often as parents we turn to others as trusted advisors especially if we are a first time parent. We may suspect that something is wrong – for example Johnny isn’t walking yet, but Ben is and they were born within a week of each other. We might consider asking our pediatrician for advice, some will tell you that more time is needed as there is always a “range” of normal or we might turn to other parents who might be able to offer advice as well as looking at websites about when milestones should be reached.
What if – deep down inside there is a voice telling you that perhaps something is not right? Here in the United States we are extremely lucky to have a program called Early Intervention. The initiative sponsored by the federal government and local state governments is a system of services designed for children from birth to age three who may have developmental delays or disabilities. The program helps eligible babies and toddlers learn and master basic skills which are developed in the first three years of life including: physical skills (rolling over, crawling, walking); cognitive (problem solving, thinking); communication (understanding what is being said, talking); social/emotional (ability to play, feeling secure) and self-help (eating and dressing).

I have an older child who went through early intervention due to multiple developmental delays and has seen great success. When I noticed that my younger didn’t seem to match up with other children at his daycare in terms of skills like sounds (babbling and garbled), he didn’t like new textures when eating and he reached some of his physical milestones later than others such as sitting and crawling I knew deep down inside that it was time to contact Early Intervention to make sure that I wasn’t missing something. I had talked to my pediatrician about this – she had assured me that there was a wide range of “normal” and I was simply comparing things to my older son who had multiple developmental delays and that he would “catch up” after all he was born a little early (36 weeks) and it was okay to be behind.

Another fear of mine was that my son would be “labeled”. Honestly, having a label of delay or autism can be the difference between your child getting the services they need versus not getting them. Waiting until they are significantly behind others means that they will have to catch up in so many more ways.

Deep down, I knew that something was wrong. Today, my son was evaluated for early intervention and today I learned that yes, he was significantly delayed in a number of areas. I wish that I could say it was less scary this time around than it was the first time. As I listened to the team go over the evaluation, I heard what they were saying but my mind kept going back to “what did I do wrong” or “should I have noticed something more?” The answer is – simply I knew as a mom that something wasn’t right and now I’m taking action. I’m helping my son get the services that he needs to succeed.

As a parent, you are your child’s strongest advocate. If you think that something might be off – I encourage you to talk to trusted advisers like your pediatrician, get an early intervention evaluation, talk with other parents and professionals. Early intervention made a huge difference for my older son and I’m hoping this time since we started earlier that now my younger son will make significant strides and catch up with his peers.
To learn more about early intervention, you can visit the ASHA website at Remember, any therapies that your child gets to help them be successful will only help them in the long run. Go with your gut and if you suspect something isn’t right – ask for an evaluation. Many times the early intervention evaluation is covered by your insurance – and knowledge is power when it comes to your child.  If your child is eligible for services as mine were, the therapists will work with your child 1:1 or sometimes in playgroups to encourage mastery of skills and help them catch up to peers.

If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please do what I did and reach out to the local early intervention team in your area.  Remember #earlyinterventioncounts!