Like many parents, you may be watching your child grow and wondering whether he or she is developing normally. Babies and young children learn and develop new skills at a rapid pace every day, trying things and building on what they know. They don’t do everything at the exact same rate, but pediatricians and child development experts have agreed on a series of milestones, in language, thinking, social and emotional, and fine and gross motor skills, that children tend to reach at roughly the same time through the months of babyhood and the toddler years.
Your child may reach some milestones during the timeframe predicted, or may be a bit faster or slower. If a child lags behind in one or more areas for a significant amount of time, he may have a developmental delay. If you think your child may be significantly delayed, talk to your pediatrician, who can give you a definitive diagnosis.
Some causes of developmental delays are very straightforward, such as Down syndrome, a genetic condition. Others are harder to trace – such as exposure to an environmental toxin such as lead, or a prenatal infection. Developmental delays are also commonly caused by medical conditions such as autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy, while some developmental delays have no known cause.
How can I help my child with a developmental delay?
Early therapeutic intervention can make a big difference, no matter what the cause or diagnosis. A child with gross motor delays will need the help of a physical therapist to improve strength, coordination, and balance to help with things like jumping, running, and stairs. A child with fine motor delays will work with an occupational therapist on smaller movements such as picking up small objects or drawing. Children with speech and language delays work with speech-language pathologists.
At CTS, our therapists work together to integrate all applicable strategies to treat developmental delays. We can work with your child to improve fine and gross motor skills, social and emotional skills, speech and language skills, and sensory processing skills – all the developmental skills that allow for a full, productive life.