As a mom to two special needs kids, I am very aware of developmental milestones and how important they are, but not all parents feel the same way I do. When your child is born, it’s easy to believe that keeping track of developmental milestones isn’t important. After all, you’re a busy, sleep-deprived mom!
I’ve heard a lot of excuses:
- “Some kids are just more behind than others or develop slower.”
- “I don’t want anyone to compare my child to someone else’s child.”
- “I’m not letting anyone put a label on my child.”
But knowing your child’s developmental milestones are very important. So how do you know if your child is just a little behind or if there is an actual problem?
Developmental Milestones are Important Because…
1. They can tell you if your child is a little behind.
Sometimes a child might be a little behind. That’s ok. Every child grows and changes at his or her own pace and a lot of times there are things you can do at home to help them catch up!
The thing to watch with the child that is a little bit behind, is to make sure that they don’t get too far behind. Sometimes being behind is a sign of something more. Sometimes it can be a sign of something easy to fix or sometimes it’s something more serious.
Here are a few examples (source):
- Problems with a child’s tongue or the roof of his mouth, which makes it hard to form sounds and words.
- Hearing loss. Kids who’ve had a lot of ear infections can have hearing problems.
- A learning disability.
- A developmental disorder, such as cerebral palsy or autism spectrum disorder.
2. They can show your child’s doctor if there is something going on with your child.
Depending on how far behind your child may be or depending on the type of milestones they are missing, your doctor may be able to tell you exactly what is going on with your child.
When my son went in for his 18 month checkup, I had to fill out a developmental milestone form. From that form, my son’s pediatrician told us he thought our son might have autism. 7 months later he was officially diagnosed with autism and because of that form we filled out he was one of very few children to be diagnosed so young.
3. They can help you get early intervention and therapy.
If your child does have developmental delays they may be eligible for early intervention or therapy. What is early intervention?
“Early intervention services can help infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays to learn many key skills and catch up in their development.” – Parent Center Hub
Early intervention programs are located in each state, but usually each state has a different name for them. We used an early intervention program in the state of Georgia that was called, “Babies Can’t Wait.” They provided help and therapy to my son and also helped us with getting into the school system with an IEP.
4. They can help you get your child a diagnosis.
If your child is more than just a little behind, then the number one thing the doctors and specialists are going to look at are the developmental milestones. They will want to know how far behind they are, which ones they have trouble with and what specific areas.
This is so important to getting the right diagnosis, because with a diagnosis your child can get the help and therapy they need to thrive! When my son was being evaluated for autism, we filled out many many different developmental milestone forms. These were key to him being diagnosed and him getting the help he needed.
Today, my son is a thriving four year old who loves life and those around him. He is still in a lot of therapy to help him, but he is doing better then even I ever imagined and it’s all thanks to his developmental milestones being noticed at the right times.
If you think your child may be behind or is struggling with some developmental milestones check out these skill charts from the CDC to see if you need to talk to your child’s doctor.