Are you worried that your child isn’t meeting important milestones? Here’s how to make sure your concerns are addressed.
Mona was worried about her son, Jake. He’d just turned a year old but still wasn’t waving at people or pointing at things. He was babbling, but didn’t say words like “mama” or “dada” yet. When she mentioned her concerns to Jake’s doctor, he said that babies grow at their own pace, and Jake didn’t seem delayed to him.
Mona felt confused. She’d read that not waving or pointing by 12 months could be a sign of a serious problem. Why wasn’t the doctor worried? Was her gut feeling wrong? How could she find out for sure?
How to talk to your child’s doctor
It’s important for parents to know the milestones their children should be meeting. Your child’s doctor may not see anything abnormal during a checkup, so it’s up to you to point out any developmental lag you have noticed. It helps to be specific, too, so it’s a good idea to write down what you observe at the time.
If you are concerned about your baby’s development, start by asking your doctor if he or she has done a routine developmental screening on your child. The doctor may observe your child and ask you questions about what he does and doesn’t do. Ask your doctor to share the results with you and go over what they mean.
The doctor only spends a short time with your child during a routine visit. Any concerns you might have from the vantage point of living with your child are important, so bring them up with your doctor. Try not to base your concerns on how your child compares to other children. If you do, the doctor may think the problem is about your expectations, not the child’s behavior.
When intervention is needed
You should always feel like your doctor is taking your concerns seriously. Sometimes, you’re still worried, even after talking to the doctor. If you are, you can refer your own child for an evaluation through your state’s Early Intervention Program. A team of experts will assess your child’s motor, social, adaptive and language skills to check for any delays. If so, the Early Intervention team will talk to you about what services your child is eligible for. Be sure to share all of this information with your doctor.
It’s important to remember that if your child is found to have a developmental delay, you are not to blame. Getting help for your child is an important first step. In the meantime, keep spending as much one-on-one time with your child as you can. Engage him or her in age-appropriate games and activities. Encourage him to speak by talking to him face-to-face at his level. Or help her explore the world around her.
Many children who qualify for Early Intervention services make great strides by the time their follow-up evaluations take place a few months later.