Raising a child is never easy, but it can become even harder when you suspect that yours is not developing at the same rate as your peers. Beyond the rate at which children develop, there could be more issues that are either unseen or slowly unfolding to give you a better idea of what may be going on with your child.
Developmental delays can be a broad range of differences in your child from other children. They may be related to motor function, language, behavior, or it could be a genetic/hereditary condition. Whatever it may be, it is important to diagnose it so you can help your child live a good and happy life, no matter what this delay may be.
If you suspect your child is experiencing these kinds of developmental delays, it is important to understand it quickly. Doing so can be difficult for you and it is certainly an emotional time that will test you. If you need information on how to tell if your child is experiencing a delay, what to look for, and how to help them, then here is some information that will serve you and your family well.
How to Notice Signs of a Delay?
Observe Their Fine and Gross Motor Functions
Motor functions are a good way to notice any delays (or disabilities) because they give a clue as to how well your child can handle basic movement skills. Fine motor functions involve the articulation of digits, like fingers and toes, or the ability to grasp objects, while gross motor functions are bigger movement skills like walking, reaching, and the use of trunks and limbs.
Children by age 5 are typically able to do small tasks like grasp and use utensils or balance on a single leg, but even then some children may simply just be uncoordinated which is also a real possibility. Noticeable signs to be worried about include, stiff limbs, overly floppy limbs, limited movement, excessive involuntary reflexes, and an exceptionally long time to learn how to walk unassisted or stand.
Keep an Eye on Their Speech and Language Abilities
Speech and language abilities are other important areas for parents to pay attention to possible signs of developmental delays or disabilities. Many disorders, like the autism spectrum, are hard to notice, especially children who are low on the spectrum. Children who do not speak often or ever, children who have a hard time understanding words and concepts, and children who do not respond to verbal cues may be exhibiting signs of developmental delays.
Children should be able to speak fairly early in their life. Around the age of 3 years old is when most children begin to speak in simple sentences. It becomes concerning after this age when your child is not speaking, but it does not necessarily mean they are delayed or have a disability. It may even be that your child has poor hearing and can’t hear what people are saying, which would be a good time to get an examination on their ears.
Ask Teachers or Educators About Their Behavior and Functions
Depending on how old your child is, they may have a teacher or some kind of educator that can help spot these issues as well. If this is the case, you need to ask them what kinds of behavior or functions they are doing or lacking. This is rare because a child will likely exhibit many symptoms of a developmental delay early enough that you can spot it before an educator does.
What Should You Do if You Suspect Your Child Has a Developmental Delay?
Talk to Your Family Doctor First
The first step if you suspect a developmental delay or disability is to discuss with your family doctor or physician. They will help walk you through the available options, like the potential for certain types of therapy or tests and examinations you can get. They will help point you in the right direction to help your child get the help they need and you should contact them as soon as you believe there is something wrong.
Physical and Occupational Therapy
As mentioned, there are different kinds of therapy types for children with different kinds of possible developmental delays. Physical therapy is used to help with muscular imbalances or dystrophies and can help your child improve their bodily functions. In more acute ways, the use of an occupational therapist helps children learn better motor functions (fine and gross) to use their limbs and digits properly.
Some children with a developmental delay or disability may have behavioral problems, like anger. Behavioral therapists help children learn to express themselves in better ways, or for the case of children who can’t understand their emotions or actions as well, give them coping mechanisms or strategies. This is usually for children who are school age as they begin to interact with more people and need help controlling their behavior.
Developmental delays are not uncommon in children, many people experienced something that could be described as a delay in their life. Some people took longer to walk or talk, and some people learned at a slower pace, but it becomes a concern when the child is past their milestone age for learning these abilities that a parent needs to intervene. Using this information, you can see what can qualify as a delay or a disability, and what to look for that can lead to solutions to help them.