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Delayed Development or Time for Concern?

Babies develop at different rates, but there are still some milestones that they are expected to reach within a certain timeframe. This is part of what doctors use to determine whether a child is developing ‘normally’ or whether there may be problems. Determining developmental delays is not always easy as children just do things at their own pace.

Knowing When to Seek Professional Help

While there is no right or wrong way to deal with what may be a developmental delay, there are some telltale signs. Firstly, as a parent there are times when you need to go with your gut feeling. If you feel that something is wrong or you see things that cause you concern, err on the side of caution and talk with your pediatrician. It may be nothing, but some developmental delays are more easily corrected if caught early.

Signs of potential problems are based on set developmental milestones that children of a certain age generally achieve. These milestones are categorized into five broad groups, namely:

  1. Fine motor skills: This is the ability to color, sort objects based on shape and color, and stack building blocks or similar tasks.
  2. Gross motor skills: This refers to sitting up, crawling walking, standing on one leg and similar activities.
  3. Language skills:  The ability to understand and speak
  4. Social interaction: How the child relates to caregivers and peers.
  5. Thinking

Some general signs that may indicate developmental delays are when the child:

  • Does not stay as focused on activities as other children of the same age group
  • Tends to stare into space more often than not
  • Does not frequently make eye contact
  • Unable to say short sentences by age three
  • Do not react to sounds such as someone calling their name or a dropped object

While a child may be delayed in some areas this does not mean that this is the case for all areas. This is one reason why some delays are not readily identified. Also interesting is the fact that a developmentally delayed child may be gifted in another area. For example, a child who is slow to speak or who has speech problems can be adept with fine motor skills and be an excellent artist.

How to Deal With Developmental Delays

Early intervention is one of the best ways to get help for a child with certain developmental problems. Once a problem is spotted and after evaluation and diagnosis, the pediatrician or other medical expert will advise on the necessary action. It is important to follow-up with exercise programs or other therapeutic programs the child needs. Keep informed about research in the area of childhood development and discuss your concerns and wishes with a pediatrician. Most importantly, parents need to keep a positive outlook and help their child develop with the capacity to deal with their challenges.



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