Early intervention assists children as they work toward meeting their developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are a variety of motor, speech, emotional, social and cognitive skills that children grow into during the first three to five years of life. In some children these milestones are delayed, developing more slowly than is typical for their age group. Signs that indicate possible delayed development can be found here and can be a preliminary reference for signs of delayed behavior based on a child’s age. Early intervention can help infants and toddlers get up to speed in their development and is highly recommended if there is any sign of delay. Taking experienced and supportive action early makes a big difference in the preparedness of a child as they advance into their adolescent and adult life.
Starting the Conversation
The possibility of a child showing signs of a delay can be stressful for a new parent or a parent experiencing it for the first time. It is important to remember that developmental delays are not unusual. Resources and therapy supporting child development is available and proven to be effective. Involving experienced medical professionals as soon as possible will mitigate the stressful feelings and concerns parents may be dealing with as they explore the possibility of delays in their child. The first step is to make an appointment with an experienced medical organization like Solace Pediatric Home Healthcare regarding concerns about the child’s development. An experienced clinician will be 100% prepared for this discussion and will help guide next steps.
The Benefit of Developmental Screening
For delays to be legitimately diagnosed it is necessary for a child to be evaluated by an experienced professional. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises children to be evaluated for general development using standardized, validated screening procedures at the ages of 9, 18, or 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months. Regardless of these guidelines, if a parent or provider notices a cause for concern, screening by an experienced professional should be pursued immediately. General physicians typically refer developmental delay evaluations to professionals specializing in these kinds of screenings such as Developmental Pediatricians, Child Neurologists, and Child Psychologists or Psychiatrists.
Early Intervention Services
If a child is diagnosed with developmental delays, a pediatric specialist will assemble a team of experienced therapists to build an action plan focused on strengthening the child’s functionality in one to several areas of delay. Each child is different across motor, speech, emotional, social and cognitive skill sets. For best results, it is critical that a customized and integrated program is built using the right tools and therapists to set the stage for the child to catch up and experience success.
A child that has been diagnosed with a delay may receive one or more of the following services as they begin to work with the plan built for their specific needs:
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech and Language Therapy
- Pediatric Nursing
- Hearing or Vision Services
- Pediatric Telehealth and/or In-home Therapy
- Psychological Services
- Assistive Technology (when needed)
- Medication (when needed)
Setup For Success
Success begins with patience for the therapeutic journey a diagnosed child is just beginning. The benefit of supportive and consistent therapy over time will most definitely pay off for a child’s future. Connecting to a specialized team using evidence-based techniques to provide early intervention therapy is key. As an action plan is developed, a delayed child will need access to telehealth or in-home pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapy.
Parents should prepare to be available both emotionally and physically. At times pediatric professionals will find it helpful to incorporate the child’s parent(s) in the actual therapy session(s) to support and address broader family functioning that happens day-to-day in households with a delayed child. Additionally, there are supplementary training programs to help parents understand more about engaging in positive and proactive ways with their child’s therapy program while also taking care of themselves.
Lastly, a child’s program will continue to evolve as they begin to gain new skills and tools to meet their developmental challenges. This means at times there will be more emphasis on one delay versus another based on the treatment program and stamina of the child. All of these variables will be determined by a professional team based on the specific child’s needs, age, and any other factors that may contribute to the most supportive solutions.
Overall, self-care, mitigating stress, and staying flexible are big parental assets while working through this dynamic step to prepare a delayed child for their future through early intervention therapy.
If you think your child may meet the criteria for early intervention services, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Solace Pediatric Home Healthcare to access our team of dedicated clinicians and therapists.