Steps to Take When You Suspect a Developmental Delay

Steps to Take When You Suspect a Developmental Delay

Every child grows and develops at their own pace, but what if you notice your little one isn’t reaching certain milestones at the same rate as their peers? It can be a daunting experience to suspect that your child might have a developmental delay. However, it is essential to remember that early identification and intervention can make a significant difference in your child’s life. This blog aims to guide parents through the steps they should take if they suspect a developmental delay in their child.

When Bambino was small, there were two developmental delays that we noticed. As a Physical Therapist, I felt more aware of his development and the issues. First, he struggled with rolling and transitioning into quadruped at ten months old. I had him evaluated by a Pediatric Physical Therapist, and they reported that he was experiencing gross motor delays. Physically, he presented like a six-month-old instead of a 10-month-old. He was in Physical Therapy for six months, where he was able to catch up and even surpass his milestones.

The second time we noticed a delay was when he was 18 months old. Bambino screamed anytime he needed something. I wasn’t expecting him to talk, but I knew there had to be a better way for him to communicate without so much stress. So, he was treated for a speech delay.

doctor talking to a toddler

Speak With Your Child’s Doctor

If you suspect a developmental delay in your child, your first step should be to consult your child’s doctor. As a professional who is familiar with your child’s health history, they can provide valuable insights into whether your concerns are warranted. During the consultation, be specific about the behaviors or traits that you’ve noticed and how they differ from typical developmental milestones. 

No detail is too small to mention. These observations can help the doctor determine if there is a need for further evaluation or if the child is developing well at their own pace. I was worried my doctor would dismiss my concerns, thinking they were minor. But I was so relieved when she agreed that he shouldn’t be screaming each time he tried to communicate. 

a baby in quadruped touching stacker with adult behind them

Consider Early Intervention Options

Early intervention refers to services and support designed to help children with developmental delays catch up in areas where they may be behind their peers. There are many different types of early intervention programs, from speech therapy for language delays to occupational therapy for motor skill challenges. If your child’s doctor agrees there might be a delay, they may recommend early intervention services. It’s crucial to understand that these services are not meant to label your child but to provide them with the support they need to reach their full potential. The earlier you start one of these programs, the more effective it can be.

Bambino was in Physical Therapy for three months and Speech Therapy for five months, and he made significant strides with each. He was 14 months old when he started Physical Therapy. And he was 17 months old when he began Speech Therapy.

a therapist holding a child over a swiss ball

Schedule a Screening or Evaluation

Depending on the results of your initial consultation, your child’s doctor might recommend a screening or a more comprehensive evaluation. A screening is a short test to tell if children are learning basic skills when they should or if they might have delays. If your child fails the screening test, don’t panic. This doesn’t automatically mean your child has a developmental delay. Instead, it suggests that further evaluation is needed. 

An evaluation is a more in-depth examination that involves a team of professionals evaluating your child’s skills and abilities. These evaluations can provide a clearer picture of where your child stands developmentally and guide the next steps in their care.

a child and an adult sitting at a table playing with playdoh which is one of the Steps to Take When You Suspect a Developmental Delay

Seek Out Support and Resources

Seeking out support and resources is an essential first step when you suspect a developmental delay in your child. Numerous organizations, professionals, and online communities are dedicated to helping parents navigate these challenging waters. Reach out to your pediatrician, a child psychologist, or a developmental specialist who can provide guidance and suggest appropriate evaluations or interventions. Look for local or online support groups where you can connect with other parents facing similar situations. These platforms can be invaluable for sharing experiences, advice, and emotional support.

Here is a list of local resources for those who live in California. We used our local Regional Center, and they covered the cost of treatment because Kaveh met specific qualifications, which lifted a huge burden off our shoulders during a stressful season of life.

a mother and child talking to a doctor

Advocate for Your Child’s Needs

You know your child better than anyone else and can best ensure their needs are met. If you believe your child may have a developmental delay, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns to healthcare providers, educators, and anyone involved in your child’s care. Request assessments and services that you feel will benefit your child and educate yourself about your child’s rights to access educational accommodations and therapies. Empower yourself with knowledge and use it to champion your child’s needs.

Once again, if you’re worried your child isn’t meeting natural milestones for their age, try not to panic. Everyone grows and develops at their own pace, but it’s important that you are doing your best to support them no matter what the situation may be. 

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