The first thing to realize about developmental delays is that the earlier they are caught, the better you and your child will be equipped to face challenges that may be ahead. Early intervention makes all the difference. Study after study shows that when delays, whether they be motor, learning, communication, autism, etc., are caught early and treated, it increases the ability of the child to compensate for those deficits. This will dramatically improve their overall success in life. So if you suspect that your child is delayed in any area of development, see your pediatrician as soon as possible. Do not be self-conscious or worry that you’re overreacting. Any good pediatrician is happy to investigate your concerns and either put them to rest or get your child the needed interventions. And don’t forget those well-child visits, which are especially key to catching potential problems.
The next thing to know is that more than likely what you’re seeing are variations in the rate of development that are completely normal. Pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon advises parents not to be concerned if their child doesn’t walk by exactly one year. He explains that if they are standing independently then walking is on the horizon. A child whose only deficit is walking at sixteen months instead of twelve is unlikely to have long-term gross motor delays. Who knows, maybe your little one just loves crawling! However late walking sometimes is indicative of more serious issues so check with your pediatrician.
What might happen if your child is found to have a developmental delay? The answer is there will be a lot of evaluation. Your pediatrician will guide you as to what tests and specialists are important in determining 1) if there is a developmental delay and 2) what treatments to proceed with. Child neurologist Dr. Jan Tavyev Asher explains that many times a pediatric neurologist will be on your child’s team of doctors. These doctors are an integral part of the team for children diagnosed with everything from autism to seizures to motor delays. Director at the Los Angeles Center for Early Education Reveta Bowers explains that if your child is in school, there are tremendous amounts of research-based and individualized teaching techniques that can help your child to get on the right track.
Every child is unique. Even children with developmental challenges are an incredible enrichment to their parents, their families, and the world around them. It’s almost impossible as a parent not to worry about your children, but realize that your active engagement as a parent is the driving force in your child’s development.