I’m Worried My Child Has A Developmental Delay – What Now?
One of the greatest joys of parenting is watching your baby grow. It is amazing to see how much they learn within just a short time — from little things like pointing to people or objects that interest them to bigger milestones like sitting up and saying their first words!
Even though every child is unique and learns new skills differently, and at their own pace, child experts have found that there are certain skills most children learn around the same age as others. If a child doesn’t seem to be learning skills at about that age, it could mean that the child has a developmental delay and needs extra help with learning certain skills.
What is a developmental delay?
Developmental delays refer to a child experiencing an ongoing delay learning a skill by a certain age. For example, by around two months old, most babies have learned to smile back when a loved one smiles at them or turns their head toward new sounds that they hear.
There are four categories child experts use developmental milestones to measure skills they’re learning: social/emotional, language/communication, cognitive (learning and thinking) and movement/physical development. Most children learn skills in each area at similar times during their growth (for example, 2 months, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2 years, etc.) Again, babies and children grow and learn at different rates, so small delays are not a reason to be concerned. However, if a child experiences multiple delays or an ongoing delay in one area, there may be reason to seek advice from a child development expert.
What causes a developmental delay?
There are many causes of developmental delays, from premature birth or pregnancy complications to heredity, a specific disorder or even a hearing impairment. Sometimes, the cause of a developmental delay is unknown. The great news is that identifying developmental delays is incredibly helpful for finding resources to help a child work through or even overcome obstacles to learning.
What do I do if I’m worried my child has a developmental delay?
We know that worrying about a developmental delay can feel overwhelming and frightening. The first thing you can do to help with this concern is to talk to your child’s pediatrician. They will know the steps to take and whether your child should visit with another specialist.
There are also community resources with trained child development professionals that can recommend steps to take. At Child and Family Resource Network, we have a network of support partners that specialize in knowing important developmental milestones and offer free assessments to families in southwest Iowa with children under five years old.
Families that contact us with child development concerns are given the option to be referred to one of our family support programs to complete an assessment. Depending on the assessment results, family support specialists continue visits with the child and family to provide information and developmental activities to help build specific skills and monitor their progress.
If the assessment shows significantly low scores in any skill area, the family support specialist will refer the child to Early Access for more specialized support. We are also able to make direct referrals to Early Access if a family has serious concerns.
All our network support programs follow consistent schedules for completing developmental screenings, which include re-evaluation in two to six months, depending on the child’s age.
Where can I find more information on developmental milestones?
Child and Family Resource Network offers a free guide called “Help Me Grow! A guide to fun brain-growth activities for babies from birth to 2 years old!” The guide is available to download on our website and covers what developmental milestones are, examples of milestones for ages 0-2 years old, and activities you can do with your baby to help them learn skills. And remember, it’s free!
There are also online resources to read more about developmental milestones, developmental delays and many other parenting resources. Sites we recommend include:
Child and Family Resource Network offers free family support programs throughout nine southwest Iowa counties. Our programs meet as groups or offer personal, one-on-one family support from family support specialists. We help with child and social development skills, new parenting and family support resources. Find out more at childandfamilyresourcenetwork.org.