If your child doesn’t match up to the developmental milestones, don’t panic, but do pursue it, in my opinion. Pursue an evaluation not just from your pediatrician, but also look into a neurodevelopmental pediatrician or neurodevelopmental specialist - they are trained in evaluating and spotting the signs of a developmental delay or disorder. As a mom to a little girl who was diagnosed at 21 months, I know the importance of early detection and early intervention. IT IS HUGE! I wouldn’t take the “let’s wait and see” approach, because then you’ve lost months or even years of intervention. Heading off something larger and more encompassing than just being that “late bloomer” early on in the child’s life is SO very important to their development and mainstreaming.
Keep in mind that children who are premature often lack the muscle strength and cognitive skills delaying their timeline in development to that of typically developing children. This may also make a pediatrician lax about jumping on intervention because they realize that the child arrived with some deficits; that the delays are to be expected but “we’ll watch them”, so they take a “let’s wait and see” attitude. As a very pro-active mother, just heed the warning signs. By the very nature that the child was pre-mature, early intervention should be sought out to give that child every possibility to catch up and be age-appropriate with their peers.
When children are behind in speech or comprehension, ear infections can be the culprit. But parents or doctors can again take a “laisez-faire” approach by just giving the ears time to clear and all will be better. But the culprit can steal months, maybe even years off the child’s development unbeknownst to the parent. When our ears are tied up with fluid and infection, they don’t process sound correctly and this usually happens at the time that most children are just learning language. They can start to be over-sensitive to sound, holding their ears, or even under-reacitve and not turn around when we call their name. It’s crucial to have our ears working properly and not to just let a hinderance of childhood (ear infections) lull us into a false sense of security where your child’s development is concerned. It’s at this early time in a child’s development that intervention is extremely important…and effective!. All children get ear infections, yes, but too many times, parents or even pediatriicans don’t realize the fall-out from them. They affect everything! The ear infections your child had at 1 year old could affect their jumping on the playground in daycare or their writing and reading in Kindergarten! Am I hitting close to home, yet?
Be on the lookout for a speech problem in conjunction with a socialization issues. Even at 12 months, if you have a child that’s really quiet, that’s not babbling or doesn’t respond to your voice, it’s a RED FLAG!.”While some parents think, “but how can the child socialize if they can’t speak; if they have a speech delay?” Exactly my point! While we need language in order to interact verbally, and there is a maturation factor here, there could be an underlying disorder of AUTISM that they may be overlooking, not knowing what to look for, or brushing it off because a pediatrician told them to “wait and see”. Get your child to a specialist right away. But don’t also forget about the “non-verbal” communication that your child should be doing even when they can’t talk. Like eye-contact, smiling, pointing…! Very Important! Don’t let those go unnoticed by you and don’t foget to bring those up to your doctor if they are a concern to you. Your doctor may forget to ask all the right questions, like “Does your child watch the fan spin, or spin around and around and never seem to get dizzy?” Not always on their checklist….But this is a sign of sensory integration dysfunction. Keep a journal. If these red flags are showing up in your child, even minimally, the child should be screened for autism. Let a neurodevelpmental specialist who is trained in finding these issues confirm or deny. Time doesn’t “fix” these issues. Early intervention does! So don’t take a “wait and see” attitude! To read about the signs of autism go here: http://soundtherapysystems.com/ear_and_brain.html
Early Intervention Is Key
In the U.S., 2% of children have a serious developmental disability (www.webmd.com), and many more have moderate delays in language and/or motor skills. Yet, less than half of children with developmental delays are identified before starting school. That needs to change. I am a mom who got her daughter diagnosed at 21 months. Don’t let any doctor tell you they can’t diagnose that early! They can and they should. They are doing a dis-service to you (who pay them!) and to your child (who they won’t see for possibly a year after you leave their office!) if you have concerns and they are not addressing them. Run the other way. Get a new pediatrician. I did! Read my book “Awakening Ashley: Mozart Knocks Autism on its Ear“. I devote a whole chapter to my pediatrian and how I left him for someone who knew something about autism. www.AwakeningAshley.com.
According to the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, there are studies that are now reporting that children who have intervention early do better than children who do not have intervention. Developmental delays should be treated extremely seriously and you need to pursue the following avenues immediately:
- Evaluation with a neurodevelopmental special or D.A.N. Doctor (Defeat Autism Now)
- Occupational therapy for fine and gross motor delays as well as sensory integration issues
- Hearing evaluation and speech therapy for language and speech delays
- Special nutritional intervention such as the Gluten-Free/Casein-Free diet for “Leaky Gut Syndrome”
- Auditory Training or Listening Therapy for auditory processing disorder or sensory processing disorder (I recommend Lollipop Listening Therapy www.SoundTherapySystems.com)
- Special schools or programs for children with autism spectrum disorders
- County services from the Early Intevention Program in your area
According to the CDC, early intervention not only improves the child’s functioning, but improves the relationship between parent and child and the parent’s understanding of the condition. Early intervention not only benefits the child, but to society in the long term, such as better performance in school and less contact with the juvenile justice system.
How Parents Can Help
Gross Motor Skills
- Place infants on their tummies while awake to develop neck and back muscles
- Create a safe home environment and put babies on the floor to explore
- Give older children time outside where they can run and jump
Fine Motor Skills
- Provide toys with different textures that encourage babies to explore with their fingers
- Provide age-appropriate puzzles, blocks, paper, and crayons
- Encourage older babies to feed themselves
- Play music for newborns to stimulate their ears and brain
- Talk to your child
- Read to your child
- Name objects as you point to pictures in a book
- Laugh and smile with your baby
- Limit television and play with your child
Social interaction is more important than we realized in the past. Don’t leave children off by themselves. Being engaged with your child on a daily basis is key to their acquisition of skills they need to move up the develpmental ladder and their maturation into productive young adults. www.webmd.com
To read about my daughter’s recovery from autism, go to www.SoundTherapySystems.com. To learn more about me, Sharon Ruben, and my mission to help these kids, go here: http://soundtherapysystems.com/media_room.html
Tags: Auditory Processing Disorder, auditory processing problems in children, Auditory Training, Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Autism Treatment, Awakening Ashley Book, Delay in fine and gross motor skils, delay in socialization, Delays in Milestones, Develpmental Delays, Listening Therapy, Lollipop Listening Therapy, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, speech delay