When You Suspect Your Child Has a Developmental Delay

All children are individuals, but what they have in common are developmental milestones. If you have concerns about your child’s development, experts at Autism Alliance of Michigan offer tips on what to do next.

Monitoring growth and development is an important part of well-child visits and typically includes developmental checklists or assessments to determine whether or not developmental milestones are being met. Although most children will achieve developmental milestones as expected, some may show signs of developmental delay.

You may have noticed it first, or maybe a family member or close friend expressed concern. Maybe you have compared your child to another child the same age and noticed that your child isn’t following the same patterns of growth. What if your child isn’t talking or walking like other children the same age? What if you find that your child is highly sensitive to sounds and textures, displays repetitive movements and behaviors, or doesn’t respond to their name?

Is something wrong? Should you be concerned?  Here is some expert advice for next steps.

Consult your pediatrician

“An important first step is for parents talk to their child’s doctor whenever they have concerns about their child’s development,” says Jill Matson, MSN, RN, CPNP, Clinical Specialist and Navigator Manager at the Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM).

Your child’s doctor will most likely want to gather more information to better identify and address developmental delays and may refer your child to specialists like a pediatric neurologist or a developmental and behavioral pediatrician for further assessment. Your child’s doctor may also request evaluations by a speech pathologist, occupational therapist or physical therapist.

You may have questions that you want to ask your child’s doctor, so be sure to write them down and take them with you to your appointment.

Contact Early On

In addition to visiting your child’s doctor for a thorough assessment, you should also contact Early On Michigan which is a program that offers early intervention services for infants and toddlers, birth to three years of age with developmental delays or disabilities or who are at risk for delays due to certain medical conditions.

As its name implies, Early On is all about early identification and action to support kids and families with early interventions that may make a big difference to the child.

The mission of Early On is to help parents and caregivers find learning opportunities in everyday activities. The experts at Early On know that children learn best from their family members and caregivers, so they provide you with what you need to help your child at this age.

Learn more about Early On at 1800earlyon.org or call 800-EarlyOn.

Reach out to your local school district

For children three years of age and older, be sure to contact your local school district to learn about available services. Even if you believe your child is far too young for school of any kind, your local school district can provide helpful evaluations and resources.

“Sometimes we talk with parents who say their child wasn’t ready for school so they didn’t seek out the school district, so we want families to know that their school districts are available to them,” says Heather Eckner, M.A.Ed., Statewide Director of Education Initiatives with AAoM.

Call an AAoM Navigator

The Autism Alliance of Michigan Navigator Program offers free professional consultation services across the state to help families navigate concerns related to their child’s development by answering questions and assisting in identifying appropriate resources and support services.

“If you think your child has a problem and don’t know what to do, or if your child has a complex situation with five different diagnoses, an AAoM Navigator can help you find the right services for your child,” says Eckner.

Contact an AAoM Navigator at navigator@aaomi.org or 877-463-2266.

Learn more with free training

The more you know about child development, the easier it will be to determine whether or not children are meeting age-appropriate developmental milestones.

Another helpful resource is a virtual training program offered through Autism Alliance of Michigan called Watch Me Grow. This free training helps parents, caregivers, early educators, and daycare and foster care providers recognize developmental milestones and red flags.

This free program, funded through the generosity of the Carls Foundation, will be offered this spring and summer.

Register online at Watch Me Grow — Autism Alliance of Michigan.

Learn more about the Autism Alliance of Michigan at autismallianceofmichigan.org.

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