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Experts tend to advise parents to give their children the freedom to develop at their own pace and not compare them to others in regard to developmental milestones.  While some children may take longer to walk, others may skip crawling altogether and go straight to walking.  However, it is important for parents to be mindful of their child’s development as most children develop new skills in a predictable order.  In the case of a developmental delay, early intervention services are crucial.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when monitoring your child’s development:

Parents are the first identifiers

No one knows your child better than you do.  If you notice your child is not meeting important milestones at a specific age or is exhibiting behavior that doesn’t seem ordinary, speak to your doctor about scheduling an evaluation.  A parent’s intuition could be the first step in recognizing a developmental delay.

Be aware of what your child is doing

Since parents can be a crucial starting point in the diagnosis of a developmental delay, it is important for parents to be aware of how their child performs day-to-day activities.  Take the time to get down on your child’s level and play with him.

  • How does he interact with you?
  • Does he look you in the eye?
  • Babble, coo or speak words?

Observe your child while he’s eating, sleeping and playing alone.  Being aware of how your child interacts with his world, and the people in it, will make you better able to spot any red flags.

How to find early intervention services

As part of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), each state is required to offer early intervention services.  Here are a few suggestions on how to connect with these services:

  • Talk to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns and ask for a referral for early intervention services.
  • Visit your state website and search for the office that manages early intervention services in your state.
  • Contact your local pediatric/children’s hospital and ask for information about early intervention services in your area.

Services are available for eligible children 3 years of age and older through the public school system.  Regardless of whether your child is a student there or not, you can call your local school to inquire about maintaining an evaluation through IDEA.

If you are confronted with the possibility of your child having a developmental delay, it is important to remember that help is available.  Early intervention services are the best way to make sure that your child functions at his fullest potential in school and everyday life.  By trusting your instinct and scheduling an evaluation for your child, you are taking an important step in ensuring your child’s welfare.

For a helpful list of age appropriate developmental milestones, click here.